Terrell Owens may be second all time in receiving yards and third all time in receiving touchdowns, but the sometimes polarizing receiver has not received a nomination for the Hall of Fame. He has been eligible for the past two years and has not been shy to voice his displeasure.
Unfortunately I DID NOT MAKE IT again this year. Thanks to ALL my fans & supporters. #FlawedProcess
— Terrell Owens (@terrellowens) February 4, 2017
The votes for the Hall of Fame are kept anonymous, but on occasion, one of the voters will write an article detailing why they made their selections, and the Boston Herald’s Ron Borges did just that in a combative piece. If the headline wasn’t enough to show that he’s a little agitated, then the lede definitely should be.
“This is the time of year when people with too little to say and too much time to say it talk the loudest. It is also the time when those with minimal knowledge but access to a microphone or pen make clear that Abe Lincoln was right many years ago when he said: ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.'”
Borges then lists four receivers who have not been selected to the Hall of Fame that are “still waiting” including, LaVern Dilweg, Billy Wilson, Billy Howton and Sterling Sharpe. What he fails to mention, however, is the most important fact that separates Owens from the four when it comes to being considered for the Hall of Fame, Owens is better than all four of them.
“Dilweg was considered the best end in pro football history until the arrival of Don Hutson. He retired in 1934. He’s still waiting, T.O.,” Borges said in his article, which begs to ask, if he was ever considered the best in pro football history, why isn’t he in yet? Dilweg has been eligible ever since the Hall was established, and in the 55 opportunities he has had to be enshrined, he hasn’t made it.
“Wilson led the NFL in receiving three times. He made the Pro Bowl six times. No less a passing expert than Bill Walsh repeatedly said he belonged in the Hall of Fame. He retired in 1960. He’s still waiting, T.O.,” he also wrote. Owens also made the Pro Bowl six times and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns on three occasions. Wilson retired in 1960, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame as early as 1965. In 53 opportunities, he hasn’t made it.
“When Howton retired he was the NFL’s all-time leader in yardage and receptions, breaking Hutson’s long-held records. Not second. Not third like T.O. The leader. He retired in 1963. He’s still waiting, T.O.,” he wrote. Howton retired in 1963 and by the time he was eligible for the Hall of Fame, he wasn’t the league’s all-time leader in yardage and both Don Maynard and Lance Alworth were closing in on him fast. Not to mention, Howton only had two 1,000 yard seasons in his career, though he played in a less aerial era and the league didn’t expand to 14 games until his last four seasons. By comparison, Alworth, whose career began as Howton’s ended, had seven consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. You can easily argue that he wasn’t even the best receiver of his era.
In his case for Sharpe, he brings up the fact that Sharpe is one of seven receivers to win the receiving “triple crown” by leading the league in receptions, yards and touchdowns in the same year, as well as the fact that Sharpe set the single-season reception record and broke it again a year later. Sharpe made five Pro-Bowls and a trio of first-team All-Pro selections before a neck injury ended his career. I don’t disagree with him that Sharpe is worthy of the Hall, but I wouldn’t put him in over Owens. Not to mention, Sharpe had a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett Favre throwing to him. Owens began his career with Steve Young throwing to him, but Young was also at the tail end of his career and did not play a full season once with Owens. No other quarterback Owens played with will be in the Hall of Fame.
Borges then brings up an interesting point while simultaneously slamming New York Daily News writer Manish Mehta:
“Mehta claimed those who voted against Owens did so because they were either old, out of touch or suffered from “lazy thinking.” He cited Owens’ stats but conveniently left one big one out: Owens not only led the NFL in drops once, he finished in the top four in drops seven other seasons during his 15-year career.”
Drops are not an official NFL stat. But even if they were, Owens was heavily targeted throughout his career, drops are going to happen. Nobody is immune to it, as Pro Football Talk pointed out. What is an official NFL statistic, however, and worse than drops, is interceptions thrown, which Favre owns the record for, yet he had no problem making it into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Borges also defends kicker Morten Andersen making the Hall of Fame over Owens, because Andersen made two first-team All-Decade Teams while Owens made none, it’s fair to point out that Owens was on the second team for the 2000s roster and did not play enough years to be nominated for the 1990s team, and plays a much more grueling position that requires much more athleticism. Andersen played 25 years as a kicker, retiring at age 47. There is no way he has a career that long if he played wide receiver. Not to mention Andersen’s career field goal percentage of 79.7 is not that impressive by today’s standards. If he played today, 22 kickers would have a better field goal percentage than him.
Borges argument is weak on multiple levels and Owens will be in the Hall before anyone else he has argued for. He is the best receiver eligible and should have been inducted this year, regardless of how long anyone else has waited. The Hall of Fame is here to enshrine the greatest players. Owens should not be stuck waiting to get in over who he was better than.