I always look forward to the NFL Hall of Fame induction weekend. I overlook the fact the game itself is poorly executed and terribly boring, which is understandable considering both teams are barely a week into training camp and trot out an array of backup players to start the game. It only goes down hill from there.
It may not be quality football, but at least it’s football. Football is back, Baby!
The highlight of the weekend festivities are the player’s acceptance speeches. There have been many passionate and memorable speeches through the years. This is an opportunity for many of the inductees to let their guard down and give us all a glimpse behind the curtain at the passion, character, and support system that helped them achieve personal greatness on the field.
Steeler greats such as Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, and Jack Lambert have thrilled us with inspirational speeches about their undying love for the team, the city, and the fans.
Players like Jim Kelly, Brett Favre, and Curtis Martin immediately come to mind.
These men spoke openly about their struggles and triumphs. About an extra-ordinary drive to be successful and what really mattered most in their lives. They talked about their faith and their families with a clarity that can only happen after taking the time to step back and honestly reflect on one’s life. There is a special bond with their teammates and their community who are on hand to celebrate the moment with them.
It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the highest honor that can be bestowed on a professional football player. An experience you would never forget and something definitely not to be missed.
That is why I did something I never thought I would do when contemplating writing this article. I felt sorry for Terrell Owens.
However, now that the ceremony is over and I have had the opportunity to hear the player’s speeches, I have changed my mind. I now believe Owens didn’t attend the induction ceremony because he didn’t want to stand up there and give an honest account of his actions during his playing career.
Terrell's actions this weekend resembled a child taking his football and going home after not getting his way. I feel certain Hall of Fame president David Baker would have loved to have given Terrell a big old bear hug and whispered in his ear, "That type of behavior is frowned upon in this establishment!"
Terrell Owens wants us to believe there is a conspiracy among the sports writers who vote on each year’s inductees. Is it possible that the voter’s were so petty as to gang up and make Owens wait to his third year of eligibility before voting him into the Hall to teach a player renowned for his moody and boorish behavior toward them a little humility? I’ll let you make the call on that one.
Terrell would have you believe he bears little blame in this whole mess he created, but I believe his disrespectful actions were not only a smack in the face to the Hall of Fame but also to the rest of this years’ inductees.
Terrell was scared to stand before his peers and proclaim to be a good teammate when the truth is he wasn’t one. He was a me-first player. His famous quote was “I love me some me!” He would throw a teammate under the bus, just ask Donovan McNabb, almost as fast as he would throw a sideline tantrum. He was never a champion, but he was a cancer in the locker room.
You can never question his staggering numbers, but I believe there is more to being Hall of Fame worthy than just numbers.
Now before someone jumps on their soapbox, I am not suggesting they only induct choir boys. Lawrence Taylor’s bust already resides in the hallowed halls of football immortality, for Heavens sake. But every aspect of a player’s body of work has to be taken into account before nominating them as first ballot worthy.
This could have all been avoided if the voters would have made Terrell wait another year and instead chosen a more worthy candidate for enshrinement in Steelers own Hines Ward.
Hines Ward is basically the polar opposite of Terrell Owens.
Ward was a true warrior. He was such a fierce competitor on the field that opposing defenses both respected and feared him. His devastating knockout blocks on defensive players caused the league to outlaw the crack back block. He was an excellent teammate and beloved in the community and by Steeler Nation. He was a classic over achiever, never blessed with the freaky genetics possessed by Terrell Owens. He achieved his success through hard work, heart, and hustle. And he did it all with a big ole infectious smile on his face.
Did I mention that he was a two time Super Bowl champion? If I didn't, he was.
I believe the Hall of Fame voters were correct in enshrining two wide receivers this year. Sadly, they could have chosen a more worthy candidate. He would have not only showed up, but you can bet he would have been all smiles.