Let’s just call this what it is: the media hates Terrell Owens.
It’s really that simple. It’s the only reason he’s not in the Hall of Fame. There is no legitimate argument, football or otherwise, that has him below the standard of entry.
Was his character problematic at times? Sure, but Michael Irvin is in the Hall of Fame and he stabbed a teammate in the neck with scissors over a haircut. Are we seriously going to argue that anything Owens did was worse than that?
Is it his numbers? Well, there are 15 wide receivers in the Hall of Fame. Terrell Owens is eighth in NFL history in receptions, third in receiving touchdowns and second in receiving yards. So if he’s not a statistical Hall of Famer, then pretty much nobody except Randy Moss and Jerry Rice are.
So are they keeping him out because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl? Well then, we’d have to kick out Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Andre Reed, James Lofton, Steve Largent and Charley Taylor too because they didn’t win one either.
But Hall of Fame voters are stodgy old white guys who think football is some sort of sacred enterprise that represents all that is good within the hearts of men. It’s not. It’s a goddamn sport, and Terrell Owens was really, REALLY good at it. He might not have always gone about it the right way, but in no way should keep him out of the Hall of Fame. He has absolutely met the standards for entrance.
And frankly, a big reason for that is how low we’ve pushed that standard to accommodate unworthy players. Never has that been more evident than in the case of Morten Andersen.
Morten Andersen was a great kicker. I’ll grant that. But he was a great kicker. Great kickers do not offer as much value to their football team as great wide receivers. It’s not particularly close.
There’s no exact way to measure how much value a player provides, but I’ll throw out one of the better models as an example: pro-football reference’s approximate value stat. It attempts to compile all of a player’s contributions on the field into a single number. For his career, Morten Andersen has a career approximate value of 97. Let’s compare that to some wide receivers. For his career, Derrick Mason accumulated an approximate value of 114, and Keenan McCardell posted a 113. Nobody is clamoring for Mason or McCardell to reach the Hall of Fame, and their numbers are much better than Andersen’s.
It might make sense to include Andersen in the Hall of Fame if he were the best kicker of all time. The Hall of Fame is a museum meant to tell the history of the sport, so having the best player at every position makes sense. Ray Guy making the Hall of Fame as a punter was important. Devin Hester should one day get in as a returner on this very principle. But Andersen is not the best kicker of all time. Adam Vinatieri is.
Andersen made 79.7 percent of his field goals in his career. Vinatieri made 84.3 percent. Andersen never made 90 percent of his kicks in a season. Vinatieri did it five times. Andersen made 47.6 percent of his field goals of 50 yards or more. Vinatieri made almost 62 percent. Yes, Vinatieri will also make the Hall of Fame, but it shows that Andersen is making it not as the best ever, but just a really good kicker. And by the way, there’s already a kicker in the Hall of Fame in Jan Stenerud. And, Lou Groza is in as well as a kicker/tackle. So Andersen is getting in as, at best, the fourth-best kicker of all time. Terrell Owens might be the fourth-best wide receiver of all time.
And he’s not getting in?
That’s ludicrous. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how football games are won. Kickers are generally replaceable parts. Wide receivers are essential, and few played the position better than Terrell Owens. That Andersen is getting in and he isn’t is a mockery of the entire sport.