Sunday, June 10, 2018

Terrell Owens Decides to Not Attend Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and His Critics Lose Their Minds

Terrell Owens announced that he does not plan to attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this fall and that has provided fodder for his many critics to crawl out of dark corners to pick on him yet again. Instead of delving into the media-created controversy or relying on second-hand accounts about Owens' thought process, here is Owens' official statement:
I am so grateful for all of the support my family, friends, and certainly my fans, have shown me throughout my entire career in the National Football League. When it was announced that I was going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the response received from my fans was overwhelming, and I am truly humbled. I am honored to be included among this group of fellow inducted individuals.

While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton. I have already shared this information with the Hall. After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere. At a later date, I will announce where and when I will celebrate my induction.

I would also like to thank the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys, the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals for the time I was granted with each organization. I am thankful for the relationships forged and the lessons learned while part of each team.

I wish to congratulate all past, current and future inductees. It is quite an honor to be part of such elite company. This honor is something that I will cherish forever.
Forget what anyone else says or has said about this issue. Owens' own words are measured and respectful toward the Hall of Fame, each of his former teams and his fellow inductees. Owens has the right to decline to attend the ceremony and he has made the public announcement of his intentions months in advance so as to not inconvenience or surprise the event's organizers.

Let's also make something else clear: Owens should have been selected as a first ballot Hall of Famer. It is obvious that he did not somehow become a better player or a more deserving Hall of Fame candidate three years after he became eligible for induction. The Hall of Fame voters--not just in pro football, but in other sports--have often revealed themselves to be ignorant and/or biased. If I were Owens or anyone else who was repeatedly snubbed for no good reason then I would be upset/outraged and that upset/outrage would not instantly disappear upon belatedly receiving the honor. The voters did not do anything for Owens and he does not owe them anything; Owens earned Hall of Fame status by virtue of his productivity and his durability.

What would I do if I were Owens? I would show up at the ceremony, speak about my journey to the Hall of Fame, thank those who helped me to achieve that honor and perhaps say something about the flaws in the voting process that result in deserving players either not being selected or having to wait for many years before being selected. I understand the perspective of those players who are already inducted in the Hall of Fame who feel like Owens should show up at the ceremony and publicly embrace joining the only team from which you cannot be traded or cut. It is a great honor to be selected as a Hall of Famer.

Does that mean it is wrong for Owens to not show up?


If Owens feels hurt by being snubbed and/or if Owens prefers to celebrate this milestone achievement in some other manner, he has earned the right to do so. The Hall of Fame invited him to the ceremony and he politely declined. While Owens' decision is unprecedented, he has the right to make this choice and he announced his choice in a respectful manner.

Owens' critics should do some real soul-searching about why his words and choices elicit such a visceral reaction.

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