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: Patriots reach deal with former Jets LB David Harris

NFL Notes: Patriots reach deal with former Jets LB David Harris

BOSTON -- A person familiar with the situation says the New England Patriots have agreed to terms on a deal with former New York Jets linebacker David Harris.

The new two-year pact could be worth as much as $6.75 million, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal has not yet been announced.

Harris, a 2007 second-round pick from Michigan who has spent all 10 of his NFL seasons in New York, was released earlier this month by the Jets in a series of offseason moves to cut high-priced veterans. He was the franchise's second-leading tackler.

He now moves within the division to play for Bill Belichick, who has lauded Harris' play in the past. It also gives the Patriots some veteran depth to pair with Dont'a Hightower.

Jaguars: Rhaney claimed off waivers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The Jaguars announced the move Wednesday and said they released rookie offensive lineman Parker Collins to make room on the roster for Rhaney.

The 6-foot-2, 301-pound Rhaney was a seventh-round draft pick out of Tennessee State by the Rams in 2014. He spent his first season on injured reserve but played in every regular-season game the past two seasons, starting once at left guard in 2015.

Packers: Guion arrested on suspicion of DUI
HONOLULU -- Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Letroy Guion has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in Hawaii.

Honolulu police booking records show Guion was arrested early Wednesday in Waikiki. He was released after posting $500 bail.

Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey says in a statement that the team is aware and will refrain from making further comment because it's a legal matter. He says he doesn't know what Guion was doing in Waikiki.

Guion was suspended without pay by the NFL for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

He started 15 games last season, making 30 tackles. The nine-year veteran agreed to a three-year deal worth $11.25 million in February 2016.

NFL: Former player Ryan Jones shot dead
RENO, Nev. -- Nevada authorities say former NFL linebacker Ryan Jones was shot dead over the weekend in a Reno apartment and two other people suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds.

Reno Police Department spokesman Officer Tim Broadway declined comment Tuesday on the circumstances that led to Sunday's shooting because detectives were still interviewing people for their investigation.

Jones, 26, signed a free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and had a stint with the New York Giants before becoming a mixed martial arts fighter.

He was the first Montana Tech football player in the college's history to sign an NFL contract.

Jones graduated from Hug High School in Nevada before attending Sierra College and then Montana Tech in 2011.

Eagles LBs coach thinks there's more ceiling for Jordan Hicks

Eagles LBs coach thinks there's more ceiling for Jordan Hicks

Jordan Hicks is a good middle linebacker. 

After his first two seasons in the NFL, the former third-round pick has piled up some eye-popping numbers. 

In his first 24 games in the league (his rookie season was cut short with a pec injury), he has seven interceptions, 14 passes defensed, four fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and two sacks. 

He's just the fifth player in NFL history — and only linebacker — to have that many INTs, fumble recoveries and forced fumbles in the first two years of his career. 

Hicks, who turns 25 later this month, is already really good. The next step is to become great. 

Is there room for more growth? 

"I would hope so," Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole said last week. "We're all emotionally tied in with our guys. I think he's done a great job for us. Is there room for improvement? No question. But he works at it. It's important to him. I know it's important for him that he puts the team success above himself. 

"I would suspect that there's more ceiling for him at linebacker. And I expect him to work at those things." 

Hicks actually had a chance to work on some of those things this offseason. As he exited last year, it was clear Hicks possessed ball-hawk traits, but admittedly needed to get better against the run. 

After his first NFL season, Hicks was stuck recovering from his torn pectoral and subsequent surgery. The rehab didn't allow him to strength train as much as he would have liked. 

This year, it's been a different story. He's hit the weight room hard, put on some extra weight, and hasn't been hamstrung by a tedious rehab process. 

"It's been great, man," Hicks said. "Having a full offseason to get in rhythm, having a full offseason to lift and get stronger and not have to take a step back to rehab and do everything over again, it's huge. Huge. To just build and stack and stack on top of each other."

Flajole agrees with Hicks, that the extra time in the weight room will help him against the run, specifically at the point of attack.  

Flajole isn't the only person in the NovaCare Complex who thinks big things are still ahead for Hicks. After the season finale against the Cowboys last season, Malcolm Jenkins said he thought Hicks is "trending to be one of the better linebackers in this league."

While Hicks wants to improve his run defense, it's undeniable that the strength of his game — to this point — is his knack for being around the ball. He always seems to be making a big play, whether it's an interception or a fumble recovery. 

It might seem like chance, but Flajole doesn't discount it as such. 

"He's a very instinctual guy and I think he understands the game," Flajole said. "The thing that can't be discounted for Jordan is that he works at it. He watches a lot of tape and because of those things, he feeds off of tendencies that the offense would give him, either by down and distance or formation. And he uses those to his advantage." 

For the second straight year, Hicks will be in the same defense under Jim Schwartz and will have the same battery mate in Nigel Bradham, who enters the second year of his two-year deal. 

At some point before the 2017 season starts, Hicks will set some personal goals for himself, like he does every year. While he hasn't set them yet, Hicks said they are normally leadership-based or stat-based. 

"It definitely gives you something to reach for and keep you on track," Hicks said. "Just like you set team goals. If you're not setting goals, you're just working towards nothing, just shooting in the air at nothing." 

One thing the goals won't be is accolade-based. Sure, Hicks would like to be named to his first Pro Bowl, but that won't be on the checklist. 

If he gets better than he's been in Year 1 and 2, it'll only be a matter of time before the recognition catches up with his stats. 

"I'm not really worried about the accolades at this point," he said. "It's not really what I'm focused on. I believe that if you're doing what you need to do, day in and day out, you're giving it everything you got, the rest will come. I'm focused on what I can do for this team, what I can do to make this team the best it can be. And let the rest fall in place."