Voters, non-voters and even Terrell Owens himself have said a lot about the receiver being part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Everyone so far has missed the point.
It isn’t about TO waiting.
Nearly every one of the 25 modern-era receivers in the Hall of Fame had to wait. Michael Irvin earned induction on his third try; Andre Reed needed nine years, Art Monk eight, Marvin Harrison three, Cris Carter six and Tim Brown six.
Only 75 players were elected on the first ballot, including only four modern-era receivers -- Raymond Berry, Paul Warfield, Steve Largent and Jerry Rice. Fair or not, receivers today are judged against Rice.
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None have lived up to the greatest of all time, so waiting isn’t the issue for Owens; it is that Owens hasn’t even made the cut to 10.
I had Owens on my final 10. I’m not sure how any of the other 47 voters looked at that list of 15 finalists and decided he wasn’t among the top 10, but many obviously did.
Owens was among the first cuts, along with Isaac Bruce, Don Coryell, Alan Faneca and Joe Jacoby. John Lynch, Brian Dawkins, Tony Boselli, Ty Law and Kevin Mawae were eliminated in the cut to five.
The five modern-era players elected -- LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen, Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis – are worthy. Owens is, too.
A two-year wait for Owens doesn’t mean he was “snubbed.” It doesn’t mean he isn’t a Hall of Famer. He just isn’t one yet.
But the concern is Owens isn’t even getting enough support to make the cut to 10. Randy Moss becomes eligible for the Class of 2018, and he neither deserves to be first ballot nor go in before Owens.
(For those who believe Owens is hurting his case by criticizing voters, I respectfully ask: How? He has yet even to make it past the final 15.)
The pros and cons for Owens are obvious and well documented: He ranks second all time in receiving yards (15,934), fifth in total touchdowns (152) and eighth in receptions (1,078). He never led the league in receiving, and he had 10 or more drops in nine seasons. Owens never won a Super Bowl, but he had nine catches for 122 yards in returning from an injury in Super Bowl XXXIX. The 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys went 121-68 with him. All three elected to move on without him. Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo had their best win-loss records with Owens as their No. 1 receiver. But Owens never made an all-decade team.
Owens is a Hall of Famer. He is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
But now that Owens twice has failed to earn election, the question becomes: When will he? It seems about time for him … to at least crack the top 10.