Former NFL star Terrell Owens will not receive individual honors by the Pro Football Hall of Fame after declining his invitation to the ceremony on August 4 in Canton, Ohio. According to Hall of Fame executive director Joe Horrigan, Owens will not have a montage of his career played during the ceremony.
“The focus is on guys who are here,” Horrigan said. “There’s no reason to bring him up as an individual, he’s not here.”
Owens will receive his gold jacket via mail and the Hall will send it the day after the ceremony, Horrigan says. Photos of Owens will appear in the materials during the ceremonies and his name will be mentioned when the whole class is announced.
Instead of reciting a speech during the ceremony, T.O. announced that he will say his induction speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on August 4.
“I have realized just how much I want to celebrate what will inevitably be the best weekend of my life at a place that means so much to me,” Owens stated on Twitter. “I’m honored to be able to share this experience with my family, friends, teammates and fans at the place that provided me an opportunity beyond high school.”
Owens will still receive a bust, the Hall made the move to nix Owens out of the ceremony to “respect Terrell’s decision not to participate in the enshrinement,” said Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker.
The talented wide receiver was a finalist for the Hall two years in a row and was not inducted. This left many to wonder why he was denied the honor in sooner years. A fellow inductee, Jerry Kramer, was a finalist for ten years. There has been speculation that T.O. denied his invitation based on both him and Kramer having to wait for their induction.
Kramer won three NFL championships and in the first two Super Bowls, he was also selected to be All-Pro five times. Owens is currently eighth in the NFL All-Time receiving leaders list with 1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 receiving touchdowns.
Since turning down his enshrinement invitation, Owens has given each of his fellow class members a pair of personalized Vans shoes.
Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Brian Dawkins, Robert Brazile, Ray Lewis and Bobby Beathard will be inducted along with Owens and Kramer.
Waiting to be inducted has happened to other former NFL players. Take into consideration Kenny Easley, who played for the Seattle Seahawks from 1981-1987; he was inducted in 2017. The news of T.O. denying the Hall infuriated Easley.
“It bothers me that perhaps somebody like this might be setting a precedent for other young guys thinking they’re bigger than the game,” he said. “It makes me angry, actually … I have so much respect for the Pro football Hall of Fame because they have traditions.”
Other former NFL players agree with the actions the Hall of Fame took, including Thurman Thomas, Rod Woodson and Michael Irvin.