It wouldn’t be a revelation to say Terrell Owens has had a tendency to be unconventional.
And the last few days have been a perfect example of this.
The wide receiver, one of the best that’s ever played in the NFL, decided a few weeks ago he wouldn’t attend his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last weekend because he felt somewhat slighted by the process and length of time it took to be inducted.
For the record, Owens only had to wait three years.
Instead of going to Canton, Ohio, to pick up his hideous gold jacket, the NFL shipped it to his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. And it was there that after slipping it on that he bit the hand that has fed him.
But more on that in a minute.
What’s new is even more bizarre. After he left Chattanooga, he tried out for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Owens is 44 years old and he hasn’t played an NFL snap since 2010 with the Bengals, although the Seahawks gave him a tryout in 2012.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports Owens was one of a gaggle who ran for Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones on Sunday. The tryout took place at nearby South Pittsburg High.
“He has some football-shape stuff that he’s going to have to get into,” Jones told the newspaper. “He caught the football well today, he got in and out of his breaks decent. Football-wise he’s got a ways to go.”
We bet you didn’t know that Owens recently became a CFL free agent after the Edmonton Eskimos banished his rights.
Here is what T.O. said about his tryout:
“I know I’m truly blessed and I can still play the game,” said Owens. “What I did out there is just a small little snippet of what I can do. I just appreciate the opportunity. I guess he wanted to assess and see where I am physically.
“It’s key when you’re trying out to put your best foot forward, and I’m very pleased with what they saw and what I did out there. To be inducted into the Hall of Fame and come back and play, why not me? I know I can do it; it’s just a matter of someone giving me the opportunity.”
If you saw Willie Mays play for the 1973 Mets when he was 42 (trust us, it wasn’t pretty) you have to wonder what the NFL’s second all-time leader in receiving yards has left.
Perhaps plenty, it seems. When he was working out with Falcons receiver Julio Jones in the offseason, reports filtered out that he was built like Adonis and still had 4.4 speed in the 40.
But as we’ve seen recently with Johnny Manziel, who threw four interceptions Friday in his first CFL start with Montreal, the league is not above giving a new gimmick a go.
Now on to what Owens said in his “induction” speech.
“It’s not because [of] how many times it took me [to be] voted [into] the Hall,” said Owens. “It’s about the mere fact the sportswriters [who vote] are not in alignment with the mission and core values of the Hall of Fame. These writers disregarded the system, the criteria, and bylaws in which guys are inducted and ultimately the true meaning of the Hall of Fame and what it represents.”
Once translated, its clear Owens feels the antics that otherwise characterized his career were held against him by the voters, invoking what the rest of us might call the “dumbbell” clause.’
He told GQ Magazine in 2012 that he had frittered away most of the $80 million he made in his 15-year career. A small percentage of those losses, but not insignificant in terms of his NFL reputation, was the $150,000 in fines he reportedly paid for doing things like excessively celebrating touchdowns.
You’ll also recall when he sprinted to the 50-yard line at Texas Stadium in 2000 and mockingly stood on the star with his hands folded across his chest.
“It was worth it. That’s the least of my worries,” he told GQ.
Consider what veteran Hall of Fame voter Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News wrote in February 2017 about Owens’ candidacy.
“But Owens’ inability to stick with the Niners, Eagles and Cowboys is significant because it goes to the heart of the problem that numerous people with whom I have spoken about him have: He was a horrible teammate. He was a divisive force that the people who ran those teams had no problem cutting loose.”
If Owens thinks the system did him a disservice, consider how the classy Packers offensive lineman, Jerry Kramer, must feel. He was good enough to be selected to the NFL’s 50th anniversary team, but not good enough to get into the Hall of Fame until last Saturday when he was 82.
“I wanted to take a stand so the next guy coming after me will not have to go through what I and others have gone through,” said Owens in Chattanooga. “Whether it is three years or 45 years, you should get what you rightfully earned.”