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.

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But would the Eagles give up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, either Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersely and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and the Eagles' lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie isn't often very outspoken on football or political matters. 

He has apparently made an exception. 

Just a few days before Lurie is tentatively scheduled to speak to Philadelphia reporters while in Phoenix for the league's annual meetings, the Eagles owner authored a story for Time Magazine railing against political polarization in Washington.

Lurie has not spoken to reporters publicly since last March in Boca Raton, Florida, at the 2016 owners meetings. 

The owner's essay was published just hours after House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday afternoon. Lurie, for the record, donated money to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

Lurie, the Eagles' 65-year-old billionaire owner, in the story, uses football as an example for which Washington should strive. 

Here's how Lurie begins the piece:

"What do football, political polarization and autism have in common? They all illuminate aspects of the human condition, explaining who we are, where we are headed and the hurdles along the way. As a sports team owner I rarely publicly discuss politics, but as a member of a family touched by autism, I often think about the unspoken millions of people who live with the daily challenges of this disorder."

Lurie then goes on to explain why football can act as a guide for Washington when it comes to united for the common good:

"What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent -- not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

"What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence and institutional racism to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering."

Lurie then writes that we, as Americans, have the "necessary resources" to tackle serious problems, like autism, but lack the leadership to put aside differences. 

The whole piece isn't very long and is worth reading in full to gain a better understanding of its context. 

Next week while in Phoenix, Lurie will surely be asked about what motivated him to write the piece.