LaDainian Tomlinson: Terrell Owens is a Hall of Fame player

LaDainian Tomlinson (right) is an honorary starter for the Daytona 500.
LaDainian Tomlinson (right) is an honorary starter for the Daytona 500. AP

Count one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, among those who feel wide receiver Terrell Owens should have a bust in Canton, Ohio.

Tomlinson, elected to the Hall of Fame earlier this month, addressed Owens’ controversial status before serving as an honorary starter for the Daytona 500.

“He has the numbers without question,” said Tomlinson, the former TCU great. “I think at some point he will be in. He’s a Hall of Fame player. I think we all know it. We know what a Hall of Fame player looks like and that’s certainly T.O.

“Some people can question the off the field stuff that’s holding him back and that might be the case, but I think he will hear his name called at some point.”

As Tomlinson said, Owens has the numbers to justify a spot among the greats. He ranks second all time in receiving yards (15,934), fifth in total touchdowns (152) and eighth in receptions (1,078).

But, among the nitpicky negatives, Owens never led the league in receiving and had 10 or more drops in nine seasons. Owens also never won a Super Bowl, although he had nine catches for 122 yards in returning from an injury in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Plus, the off-field concerns were real. The 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys went 121-68 with him, but all three organizations moved on without him. Quarterbacks 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.

Regardless, most believe Owens will receive football’s highest honor eventually even though it may take longer than expected.