Before this season, every Hall of Famer who could show up for their induction ceremony in Canton did so.
Terrell Owens is the first to tell the Pro Football Hall of Fame that he doesn’t want to show up to their party. He said he’ll give a speech at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga instead, and the Hall of Fame said it won’t announce Owens at its ceremony.
It’s remarkably petty by the Hall of Fame, which could easily take the high road and announce Owens, show his highlights and let the fans there give him a hand. How hard would that be? Owens earned that through his play on the field, which is what this should be about. But a lot of Hall of Famers, who did show up for their speech in Canton, agree with the Hall.
Michael Irvin, LT aren’t happy with Owens’ decision
Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, who gave one of the most emotional speeches the Hall of Fame has seen, thinks the Hall is doing the right thing by ignoring Owens.
“We can’t spend this moment for all these other guys talking about the guy that is not here,” Irvin said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “You cannot do that and take that away. He’s doing his own thing wherever he’s doing his own thing, and God bless him. And when they mention the class they’ll mention him, but why should you steal those other guys’ moment because of the decision of this one?
“I think it’s the right move. They’re not saying he’s not going to have a bust in the room. They’re not saying he’s not getting his jacket. They’re saying, ‘We’re honoring his wish. He doesn’t want to be here with us, we’re going to mention him as little as possible.’ I think it’s the right move.”
Irvin also said “we will be cheated as a Hall of Fame team” by Owens’ decision.
Former New York Giants great Lawrence Taylor didn’t take it personally that Owens won’t be going to Canton. But he disagreed with the decision.
“I don’t feel disrespected by any means. He can do what he wants,” Taylor told N.J. Advance Media. “I really think he is making the wrong move by not going to the Hall of Fame (ceremony) just because he is giving the doubters too much room to make a judgement on him.”
Others feel Owens should show up
Irvin isn’t the first Hall of Famer to express displeasure with Owens, and there will likely be a few more before the ceremony. Rod Woodson said he thinks Owens is cheating not the other Hall of Famers, but the people in his life who helped get him to this point.
“I really don’t care if he comes or not,” Woodson told NFL Network, via the New York Daily News. “But what bothers me more than anything is that in T.O.’s life, he’s had different things that happened to him in his life, but there’s people who helped him come along through his childhood, high school, college, to get to the point where he’s at to be one of the better players to ever play in the National Football League … you can be there to acknowledge them. And they lose out, because he’s thinking, ‘It’s all about T.O.’”
Former Steelers defensive tackle Joe Greene expressed a similar opinion.
“You are missing one of the most important days of your life,” Greene said, according to the Daily News. “It’s for those people who saw you before you became that big NFL star. The thing you learn when you walk up there is it’s not all about you.’’
Kenny Easley says Owens’ decision “blows my mind”
Former Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley had to wait to make the Hall of Fame, like Owens did, and he told WTKR in Norfolk, Va. that he’s bothered by Owens decision. He said it hopes it doesn’t set a precedent of young players “thinking they’re bigger than the game.”
“I just blows my mind,” Easley told WTKR. “It makes me angry, actually. I don’t want to get back to the anger I had when I first heard he was going to do that. I have so much respect for the Pro Football Hall of Fame because they have traditions.”
Thurman Thomas: Owens shouldn’t feel offended
Owens said he is boycotting for other players who had to wait, but former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas said he thinks that’s the wrong approach.
“Every guy thinks they should have been a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer,” Thomas said, according to the Buffalo News. “I remember (former NFL defensive end) Deacon Jones telling me after I didn’t get in the first time … He said, ‘Whether you’re going to get in the first time, the second time, the third time, it’s when you get in that you should enjoy it.’
Unless Owens has a last-minute change of heart, his absence from Canton will dominate the weekend. And between now and then, we’ll hear from plenty of the game’s greats about it.
“I’m a little ticked off that he’s not coming,” Thomas said, according to the Buffalo News. “But it’s his choice … I think it was a bad PR move on his part, but I do get it.”
Eric Dickerson told NFL Network he thought it was wrong for the Hall to not mention Owens, and said Owens is a “really good guy.” He said he tried to talk Owens into going, and that Owens shouldn’t hold it against the Hall because he wasn’t a first-ballot selection, because that was the voters’ decision.
“I asked him, ‘If you had went in first ballot, would you have gone (to the induction)? Don’t lie to me,'” Dickerson said. “He said ‘Yeah, I’d have went.’ I said, ‘OK. Don’t let them win.’
“I told him, ‘When you get older, you may be 70 years old and I may be dead and gone, but I really believe you’re sit one day and you’ll look and say, man you know what? I kind of wish I would have went.'”
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