Terrell Owens was initially wearing a black suit jacket adorned with logos of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But during his personal induction ceremony, there was a wardrobe change.
Owens’ mother, Marilyn Heard, brought him his gold Hall of Fame jacket.
The jacket appeared to fit but the scene was out of place Saturday as Owens celebrated his induction into the Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, Tenn., approximately 600 miles away from Canton, Ohio.
While seven other people voted into the Hall of Fame are to be inducted on live television later in the evening, Owens celebrated his induction in front of less than 4,000 people at McKenzie Arena on the Tennessee-Chattanooga campus.
Owens played football and basketball at the university before embarking on his stellar NFL career. The locals serenaded him with numerous “T.O, T.O” chants while providing a friendly environment. Owens is the first living inductee to skip the Hall of Fame ceremonies.
During his speech, Owens explained why he wasn’t in Canton — and sharply criticized the selection committee, which is mostly made up of media members. Owens wasn’t inducted until his third year of eligibility.
“I want to address the elephant in the room,” Owens said during his speech. “Many of you may be wondering why we are here instead of Canton. There has been a lot of speculation and false reports as to why I chose not to be there. I would like to set the record straight.
“It’s not because of how many times it took for me to be voted into the Hall. It’s about the mere fact that the sports writers are not in alignment with the mission and core values of the Hall of Fame.
These writers disregarded the system, the criteria and bylaws in which guys are inducted, and ultimately the true meaning of the Hall of Fame and what it represents.
“I wanted to take a stand so the next guy coming after me will not have to go through what I and others have gone through, whether it’s three years or 45 years, you should get what you’ve rightfully earned.”
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.
He has heard all the chatter — good, bad and ugly — about his decision from fans, from media types, and from fellow Hall of Fame member. And he insists he will not look back later in life and wish he had attended the induction ceremonies in Canton.
“People say I may regret not being in Canton (today) 10, 15, 20 years from now, but I choose not to live in regret,” Owens said. “I will leave a legacy that will leave an imprint on this world forever.”
Owens also recognized his ties to Tennessee-Chattanooga during the ceremony and the school announced it was changing the name of a campus street to Terrell Owens Way.
In addition to his three seasons on the football team, Owens spent three seasons on the basketball squad and averaged 1.5 points per game.
Former Chattanooga basketball coach Mack McCarthy looked at Owens and offered up the following:
“If you had just listened to me, if you’d just played basketball. ... You wouldn’t be here today.”
The others members of the 2018 Hall of Fame class will be inducted in Canton on Saturday night. They are former players Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher, along with front-office executive Bobby Beathard.
—Field Level Media