Philadelphia Eagles

Terrell Owens' Hall of Fame snub unfair backlash for attitude during career

Terrell Owens' Hall of Fame snub unfair backlash for attitude during career

I never liked T.O. very much, and he didn’t like me. No big deal. It happens all the time when you cover a team. Some guys you click with, some guys you don’t.

In 2014, nine years after he last played for the Eagles, T.O. came after me on Twitter after someone asked me who I thought was the greatest wide receiver in Eagles history, and I answered Mike Quick. Owens didn’t like that.

Time heals all wounds, and in 2015 T.O. did a guest appearance with me and Derrick Gunn on Quick Slants. We had a blast. We cracked jokes on each other, we laughed throughout the whole show, and when it was over I gladly accepted his offer to help publicize his charity whenever he had an event in Philly.

A few days later, he blocked me on Twitter.

I don’t know why. I haven’t talked to him since. It doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the greatest receivers in NFL history, and there’s absolutely no question he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and anybody who didn’t vote for him – which apparently is an awful lot of the voters – had to do it solely for personal reasons.

This is the problem with writers voting for the Hall of Fame. It’s their way of getting back at guys who didn’t give them interviews or weren’t good with the media. Guys they didn’t like.

And that’s a travesty.

How else do you explain Terrell Owens, second in NFL history only to Jerry Rice in receiving yards and third in touchdowns, being snubbed a second straight year by the Hall of Fame voters?

You just can’t argue with the numbers. So there has to be another reason.

And that reason is personal and has nothing to do with football.

Last I checked, it’s not the Hall of Good Guys. But it seems like a lot of the guys that get in these days are media types themselves, national TV analysts, color commentators. Guys who were always around for interviews during their career and were considered cooperative with the media when they played.

Heck, half of the six inductees this year work for NFL Network.

Owens is a different kind of guy and took a different kind of path. I remember trying to interview him in an almost empty locker room after he had a massive game against the Chiefs in Kansas City early in 2005.

He had 11 catches for 171 yards that day in a win that pushed the Eagles to 3-1 a year after their Super Bowl appearance.

Things were about to fall apart, but we didn’t quite know that yet.

T.O. sat there at his locker listening to music through his earbuds, his eyes closed, simply shaking his head no when I asked if he had a couple minutes to talk about the win and his performance.

Finally, without removing his earbuds, he nodded over at Greg Lewis a few lockers away and said: “G-Lew will answer any questions you have.” Then he walked away.

Multiply that sort of experience with all the football writers in the country and all the Hall of Fame voters and you see why T.O. keeps getting denied.

But what really mattered that day was the 11 catches for 171 yards, not the fact that he was surly and uncooperative.

And that’s a metaphor for his entire career.

When he was on the field, he produced. He wouldn’t always talk about it, but inside that 100-by-53-yard field, he flat-out produced.

For 15 years.

Like almost no one else.

Nine 1,000-yard seasons. Five 1,200-yard seasons. Two more over 900 yards. Led the league in TD catches three times. Averaged 10-and-a-half TDs per year over a decade and a half.  

Five-time all-pro.

Do you know how many wide receivers have been first-team all-pro five times in modern NFL history?

Five.

There is simply no argument that T.O. doesn’t belong in Canton other than the fact that he came across much of his career as a jerk.

But that didn’t stop the Hall of Fame voters in the past.

They didn’t hesitate to induct Lawrence Taylor on the first ballot, and his list of off-the-field issues was WAYYYYY longer and way worse than T.O.’s.

Taylor was suspended twice during his career for testing positive. He was arrested twice on drug-related charges. He admitted on 60 Minutes that he sent hookers to opposing players’ hotel rooms to distract them the night before a game. He admitted submitting the urine of teammates to avoid testing positive. He once arrived at a team meeting wearing handcuffs.

All this before he was voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Now, L.T. was an incredible talent, one of the greatest defensive players in history. But he was also great with the writers. Always had a funny quote and time for an interview.

You can certainly make a case that T.O. is one of the greatest offensive players in history. He has more receiving yards than 24 of the 25 wide receivers already enshrined in the Hall.

In fact, only 11 of the wide receivers already in the Hall are within 5,000 yards of T.O.

And last I checked, he’s never been arrested. And the worst thing he did was have a knack for not getting along with quarterbacks.

We saw both sides of T.O. up close in 2004 and 2005. Brilliant enough to help carry the team to a Super Bowl – and catch 9 passes for 122 yards on a broken leg in the game – but also disruptive enough to get kicked off the roster a year later.

I’m not saying he was a choirboy. He wasn’t. But you just can’t debate 1,078 catches, 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.

One other human being in the history of Earth has ever done that, and that’s Jerry Rice.

Now, I don’t worry about Dawk, because Dawk is going to get into the Hall in the next couple years. And as much as I love Dawk, I don’t think his omission at this point is as glaring and as egregious as T.O.’s.

With T.O., it’s simply the panel of voters saying, “We don’t like you, and we’re going to get back at you now the only way we can.”

And that’s not what the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be about.

NFL Notes: Rookie QB DeShone Kizer to start in Browns' 3rd preseason game

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NFL Notes: Rookie QB DeShone Kizer to start in Browns' 3rd preseason game

BEREA, Ohio -- Rookie DeShone Kizer is Cleveland's new starting quarterback.

Coach Hue Jackson has elected to go with Kizer, a second-round pick from Notre Dame, over veterans Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. Kizer has been the most consistent of the three during training camp and led the Browns to three touchdowns during his two exhibition appearances.

Jackson said Kizer will start Saturday's exhibition in Tamp Bay and "is certainly positioning himself well to earn the starting job heading into the regular season."

The Browns open the season on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh.

Unless he stumbles against the Buccaneers, Kizer will be the 27th different quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. The big-armed 21-year-old has shown no signs of being intimidated by the jump to the pros after making 23 starts in two seasons for the Fighting Irish (see full story).

Bears: OT Charles Leno Jr. signs extension
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears have signed offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr. to a contract extension.

The Bears announced the extension Wednesday.

Leno started all 16 games at left tackle last year and is entering his fourth season with the Bears. Last year marked the second straight season in which Leno made 16 starts. He was one of two Bears offensive players to start every game in 2016.

He helped Chicago finish third in the NFL in rushing as Jordan Howard rushed for 1,313 yards, the most by a Bears rookie.

Leno, a former seventh-round pick from Boise State, has 30 career NFL starts.

Steelers: Bell hints at return date
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers star Le'Veon Bell has suggested on Twitter that he will return to the team on Sept. 1, the day after Pittsburgh's final preseason game.

Bell hasn't signed his franchise tender and has been holding out through training camp. Responding to a fan Tuesday night asking when he plans to end his holdout, Bell wrote: "9-1-17" and added a wink.

The franchise tender offered Bell will guarantee him $12.1 million for the upcoming season. The two-time Pro Bowl running back has been seeking a long-term deal.

Bell rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns last season and also caught 75 passes for 616 yards and two TDs.

Redskins: Jordan Reed makes on-field debut at practice
ASHBURN, Va. -- Jordan Reed is back at practice with the Washington Redskins.

The 27-year-old tight end made his on-field debut Wednesday after missing almost the first month of practices with a toe injury. Reed missed the team's first two preseason games and was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday.

Reed was examined by a foot specialist Aug. 1 and recently started using wider shoes and orthotics to help alleviate the soreness in the big toe on his left foot. Last week he said it felt better when running routes and walking around and doesn't expect the injury to affect him during the season.

One of quarterback Kirk Cousins' most consistent and effective targets, Reed had 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns last season despite missing four games with injury.

Giants: OL Bowie waived after domestic charges disclosed 
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have waived Michael Bowie days after finding out that the offensive lineman had been charged with assault and battery in Oklahoma.

The Giants announced the decision Wednesday along with three moves.

The team learned of the charges on Saturday and did not allow the 25-year-old free agent to make the trip to Cleveland for a preseason game against the Browns on Monday night.

Bowie is accused of grabbing his girlfriend by the neck during a fight at her home in Bixby, Oklahoma, then broke two televisions and punched a hole in the wall.

Court records don't list an attorney for Bowie, a Tulsa resident. His agent says Bowie is working to prove his innocence, saying there was no physical contact with the girlfriend.

New York also waived offensive linemen Corin Brooks, and waived/injured wideouts Darius Powe and Andrew Turzilli (see full story).

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman heading to Saints

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USA Today Images

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman heading to Saints

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman has agreed to terms to join the New Orleans Saints on a one-year deal, according to his agent Sean Stellato. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the deal. 

Braman, 30, spent the last three seasons with the Eagles and played a major role on Dave Fipp's unit, which has been considered one of the top in the NFL during that span. He had been a free agent throughout the spring and summer after his contract ran out with the Eagles. 

Braman came to Philadelphia as a free agent from the Texans before the 2014 season on a two-year deal and later restructured his contract to take a pay cut and give him an extra year in Philly. 

While Braman rarely made it on the field for the defense in those next three seasons, he played a total of 1,214 special teams snaps, the most of any player on the team. He played in all 48 games over the last three seasons. 

Even without Braman, the Eagles still have plenty of key special teams players like Chris Maragos, Najee Goode and Kamu Grugier-Hill.