The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions will take place on Saturday and Terrell Owens will be approximately 600 miles away.
Instead of standing at a podium in Canton, Ohio being applauded by his peers, Owens will be inside McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn., giving his speech in front of an audience admitted for free.
It is slated to start at 3:17 p.m. ET, to signify that he is the 317th member of the Hall of Fame.
Spending the afternoon at Tennessee-Chattanooga — where he attended college — is just fine with Owens, who asserts he does not second-guess his decision to be the first living inductee to shun the induction ceremonies.
“I understand why I’ve made my decision,” Owens told reporters on Friday before taking 32 boys on a shopping spree. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. But again, obviously the criteria and the system put in place for the Hall of Fame in order for guys like myself to be inducted, there are guidelines that the writers — the sportswriters — are supposed to adhere to.
“This is not (about) not being inducted the first or second ballot, but it’s about the process in which guys are nominated and ultimately inducted. There is a flaw in that system. So this is not only about me, but it’s about the guys that went before me, that’s going to come after me. And I can make a stand for those guys so they won’t have to go through this situation.”
Owens ranks second in NFL history with 15,934 receiving yards, third with 153 touchdown catches and eighth with 1,078 receptions. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection during 15 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals from 1996-2010.
Those glittering numbers didn’t prevent him from being passed over on each of the first two times he was eligible and Owens certainly held a grudge.
He stated in June that a visit to Canton earlier this year helped him see that he didn’t want to be at the festivities and preferred to spend “one of the most memorable days of my life elsewhere.”
The 44-year-old Owens is aware there are plenty of dissenting viewpoints and that many Hall of Famers feel he is making a big mistake.
“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Owens said. “I don’t expect a lot of people to agree with what I’ve done. I know what I’m doing. I know who’s more important. For me, it wasn’t about the Hall of Fame. I never played this sport to be in the Hall of Fame. Everything that I’ve accomplished was a lot of hard work. It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And when I feel like there are certain people put in position to not really adhere and honor and respect what I’ve done for the game, then that’s an issue.
“My family is happy. The community is happy. And I can’t be more grateful for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga for affording me the opportunity to receive one of the greatest honors right here where it all began.”
The others members of the 2018 Hall of Fame class are former players Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher and front-office executive Bobby Beathard.
—Field Level Media