Terrell Owens #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass in front of Ryan Clark #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)
Halls of Fame are absolutely worthless, a subjective attempt to reclassify what’s already happened objectively. Terrell Owens’ exclusion from the Pro Football Hall of Fame confirms that notion with gusto.
Owens is a jerk. A constant distraction. Never won a Super Bowl. Displayed erratic behavior that suggested psychiatric counseling might be useful. Bounced from team to team, leaving mostly disarray in his wake.
But, looking at the NFL’s career leaders list, Owens is second in receiving yards, third in receiving touchdowns, fifth in total touchdowns and eighth in receptions. He made first-team All Pro five times.
If Owens’ ability to irritate got him dumped, his overwhelming football abilities kept getting him picked up.
Looking at Owens’ statistics, he’d have to murder somebody to be logically kept out of Canton.
Then again, O.J. Simpson committed a double homicide and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ray Lewis becomes eligible next year.
Those 48 schmucks on the Hall of Fame’s selection committee shouldn’t moralize, or go into malleable abstracts like locker-room impact. When you do that, it becomes a popularity contest -- which is what it really is. The committee meets, and members campaign on behalf of hometown players and cronies.
The committee should look at the numbers, rubber-stamp candidates that are obvious and parse more carefully those that are borderline. At that point, consider intangibles.
But Owens isn’t borderline. He’s obvious.
Former NFL executive Bill Polian spoke for the anti-Owens clique when he said, “The Hall of Fame ought to be for people who make their team better, not for those who disrupt them and make them worse.”
By way of proof, Owens joined San Francisco as a rookie in 1996. The 49ers went from 11-5 the year before…to 12-4, 13-3 and 12-4, and only went downhill when iconic quarterback Steve Young retired. Sorry, Bill.
Owens then went to Philadelphia in 2004, and the Eagles…made it to the Super Bowl in his first season. Sorry again, Bill.
Owens moved to Dallas in 2006, and the Cowboys…made the playoffs for two straight seasons after missing the postseason the two years prior and missing it five out of six. Sorry one more time, Bill.
Owens was a gigantic pain in the backside. Still is, probably. But if you’re going to argue against Owens, be accurate. Because his stats can’t be disputed.
It doesn’t speak well, though, that Owens had a very solid year with Cincinnati in 2010 -- 72 catches, 983 receiving yards, nine touchdowns -- and nobody wanted him. At 37, Owens finally ran out of second chances. His career ended.
Owens never got arrested. Was never connected with PEDs. Very few who played with Owens call him a bad teammate, at least not out loud. Owens was a knucklehead, nothing worse. The Halls of Fame are filled with those.
If Owens can’t get in the Hall of Fame, what chance does Hines Ward have with his meager stats? Ward in, Owens not: That would be the final indignity.
Anybody who hates Owens should hate Antonio Brown, too. Brown is an economy-sized version of Owens. Not as big, not as good, not as wacko, but every bit as narcissistic and annoying.
Brown has one year left on his contract and wants a long-term deal worth $16 mil per year. Emboldened by a huge payday, there’s every reason to believe Brown can catch up to Owens and even surpass him in terms of combining catches and chaos, then wrongly be kept out of the Hall of Fame, too.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).