The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, during Hall of Fame weekend is a bucket list item for me.
One day I’ll make an appearance and listen to all of the induction speeches from legends who bled and made an impact in the violent sport that is football.
In a Hall of Fame class that is loaded with star power with the likes of wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, and hard-hitting safety Brian Dawkins, former 49ers’ wideout Terrell Owens will be inducted this upcoming weekend. But you wouldn’t know it.
Owens is finally making the Hall, but he’s not happy about being snubbed from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, so he’s decided that he’s not going to Canton to receive his gold jacket. Instead, Owens, 44, will skip the festivities and will hold his own induction event in Chattanooga, Tenn, where he went to college.
“I’m not really worried about the criticism, everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” Owens said. “At a later date, I’m some things [sic] to clarify and validate why I’m doing what I’m doing. At the end of the day, people can speculate, I’m not going to let anyone’s opinions about be deter me from what I’m doing.”
It’s a terrible decision. It’s selfish and disrespectful. He’s the first NFL player to snub the honor, and it’s puzzling to me why Owens can’t get over himself and attend the ceremony.
Carmen Policy, a top 49ers executive during the team’s glory years, chimed in Owens’ decision to skip his Hall of Fame induction this past Monday on 95.7 The Game with Joe, Lo, and Dibs. He didn’t hold back when he shared his thoughts on the situation.
“I thought, ‘How sad. How very, very sad,’ and I felt very bad for Terrell,” Policy said. “And I talked to him after he was notified that he was going to be inducted. And the player I talked to was humble and he was just upbeat about the honor and talked about the early days at the 49ers. And he had talked to Eddie DeBartolo (Jr.) and he said, ‘I miss you guys.’ and you know this, that, and so forth.”
“It’s horribly sad and I think he’s just so alone out there. I hate to put it in those terms because it sounds so maudlin, but that’s honestly the way I feel.”
It is sad, and I totally am on board with what Policy said.
Owens is one of my favorite 49ers of all time, despite his shenanigans both off and on the field. Didn’t matter that he was caught up in drama with the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys. Whether it was causing a ruckus inside of the 49ers locker room or feuding with his quarterback in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb, I rooted for Owens to succeed.
Following in the footsteps of Jerry Rice had to be daunting, but Owens took the torch and developed into one of the best wide receivers of all time. He could run every route, he was tough and he was a game-changer. The defense was always focused on shutting down No. 81 — he was that good.
But his talent was never the issue. It’s the “other” stuff that forced him to bounce around the league and damage his reputation.
Again, Owens was a beast on the field, catching 1,078 balls for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns, but the kind of stunt he’s pulling this weekend is exactly why he was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
In my mind, Owens was snubbed from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but writers obviously held the outbursts, throwing teammates under the bus, and basically being a me-first guy against him.
I thought that was wrong on the writers’ part, and I felt bad for Owens. I don’t anymore. Nope. To not be at Canton to be inducted is shameful, and surely will be something he regrets in the future.
I, like Policy, am in Owens’ corner, but we both realize that he may never change. The “me, me, me” attitude has become nauseating.
“Every time a bridge was built he burned it,” Policy told Joe, Lo, and Dibs. “Every time there was some connection — some huge clippers were used to cut it off. And he finds himself on this small island with no access to it and no means to leave it and nothing connected to it. And it’s terribly sad and I just wish his life were different.”
I love Owens, but like Policy, I wish his career and his life decisions played out differently. I wish he was going to Canton to be alongside Moss, Lewis, Dawkins, and Urlacher. Unfortunately, Owens will isolate himself in Chattanooga.
After all the bitching and moaning about not making the Hall, he’ll have to live with this mind-boggling decision for the rest of his life. That’s just shameful.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.