Behold the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018: Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and …
He whose name shall not be spoken.
Come induction weekend (Aug. 4-5) in Canton, Ohio, the seven aforementioned honorees will receive their gold blazers. They will be presented to an adoring crowd and will give poignant speeches from the heart.
Terrell Owens, former 49ers problem man-child, has decided to shun the Canton shindig in favor of appearing at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, his alma mater. Typical T.O. It has always been something with him. Doing situps in his driveway; ripping Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb after a Super Bowl loss; tearfully supporting Cowboys teammate Tony Romo (“That’s my quarterback”); yelling “Security!” in the 49ers locker room when a reporter deigned to ask him a question; appropriating a cheerleader’s pom poms after a touchdown; standing on the Dallas star (while a 49er) after a touchdown; pulling a Sharpie from his sock after a touchdown, signing the ball and handing it to a fan; helping himself to a fan’s popcorn after a touchdown.
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He always has taken the path of most resistance. But come the first weekend in August, it will be the Hall of Fame that looks the fool. That’s right — the Hall is out-T.O.’ing T.O. by pretending he doesn’t exist. There will be no reference whatsoever to Owens — second in NFL history (to Jerry Rice) with 15,934 receiving yards, fifth with 156 touchdowns, and eighth with 1,078 receptions.
“The focus is on the guys who are here,” Hall of Fame executive director Joe Horrigan told Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network. “There is no reason to bring him up as an individual. He’s not here.”
The phrase, “Invitation withdrawn!” comes to mind.
It seems only fair to let Owens have the last word: “As many of you know, I am foregoing the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton,” he wrote in a statement. “After giving it much thought, 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.
“I have decided to give my Hall of Fame speech at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in McKenzie Arena on Saturday, August 4. “I’m proud to be a Moc, and 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 and where I truly began to find myself as an athlete. I look forward to seeing you all in Chattanooga.
“Getcha popcorn ready.”
See? Always something.