Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Will T.O. Supporters Please Explain Their Terms Better? Thanks.

UPDATED 2/16/2017
By John Turney
It's Valentine's Day and there are still new stories about the so-called T.O. "snub" of not making the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week. It is the same kinds of things we heard last year.

ESPN and New York Daily New's Manish Mehta stated in this video that the committee, is apparently too old and too out-of-touch based on his thinking, I suppose, that Owens should have been a first- or second-ballot electee. Yet, all he cites is the receiving numbers. He says there are "too many out of touch and entitled voices that need to go".

And who might they be Mr. Mehta? The ones who disagree with you? And they need to be replaced with people who do agree with you? It would be good journalism to explain, outside of Owens, who he thinks these men and women are and what oversights, again, outside of Owens he is upset about.

It would also bee interesting to see how he thinks such changes would affect the voting process. Would putting in the "right" players satisfy? Would there then be another group of critics that would then oppose the new and improved voters and call for their heads?

Today, a post by Pro Football Talk wrote that Bill Parcells said, "Asked directly on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles if he would vote for Owens, Parcells answered, “I think I would. I think I would.

On February 9th, Pro Football Talk posted that Steve Young said "Yeah,” Young told KNBR regarding whether Owens should be enshrined in Canton. “Because I played with him, I felt like I knew him. I knew the abilities he had. There’s no question he’s struggled with a lot of things, but in the end, yes. . . .

Yesterday, Pro Football Talk posted about Terrell Owens defending himself on Twitter and explored those details and finished with this, "Regardless, Owens isn’t a close case for Canton. He’s a no-brainer, slam-dunk Hall of Famer. And those who are resisting can either continue to hide under the bed (with the exception of Vic Carucci) or they can stand up, own their vote, and explain their case. Maybe, just maybe, the process of talking it out will cause them to realize that maybe, just maybe, they were wrong to exclude him." (emphasis mine).

It is my view that Owens is not excluded. He has not been elected YET. Many great players have waited for three, four, and more years to be elected. So, while it may not be a "close case for Canton" is it a rock-solid case that Owens was a first- or second-ballot type of player? Being delayed is not being denied. Ask Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Michael Irvin and others.

Mehta said the system was "flawed and had to be changed" and cited "lazy thinking".I ask, can looking only at numbers be considered "lazy thinking"?

Florio, like Mehta, has called for sweeping changes even citing a list of suggestions. All that is fine, but the impetus for these called for changes are based only on someone not getting in on the first-ballot or even a second ballot, nothing more, it seems from the limited speeches and posts.

Don Hutson was elected to the initial Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963. Many years after his retirement he still held most of the NFL receiving records, he won championships, was many-time All-Pro and was a two-time MVP.

Lance Alworth was a first-ballot wide receiver (he played flanker) in 1978. He was a UPI Player of the Year and perhaps the best player in the history of the AFL, being many time All-AFL and was part of their championship and won a ring with Dallas in 1971.

Paul Warfield was a six-time All-Pro, many time Pro Bowler, won two rings for the Dolphins was one of very few players to end career with a 20.0 yards per catch average. He played most of this career in the "dead ball" era of passing in the NFL, roughly from 1970-77 where it was not as easy to pass the ball due to the rules. Opening up the rules in 1978 and then emphasis in how penalties were called caused another wave of passing in the early 1990s.

Steve Largent broke Don Hutson's touchdown pass mark and had other credentials and Raymond Berry was number one of the top categories, not second of third and he had championships on his resume, making it more complete.

Jerry Rice was, well, Jerry Rice. He was an MVP, an Offensive Player of the Year, won multiple rings, was an 11-time First-team All-Pro, 12 Pro Bowls, and held almost every record in the receiving book.

Those are the First-ballot WRs. Hutson, Berry, and Alworth, along with Rice, hold up. Warfield and Largent maybe not so much. Rice, simply put, set a new standard by which to measure wide receivers and to really be a first-ballot, in my personal view, he needs to have some of the things Rice had. Maybe not all, but some of them.

That means retiring with some of the receiving records, not all but some or a couple. That means not being second or third. To me, that shows second or third ballot. Maybe a key figure in a Super Bowl win. Not a Super Bowl loss. Maybe getting a lot of votes for Oppensive Player of the Year. Rice got 141 over his career. Randy Moss got 10.5, Marvin Harrison got 14.5, Owens got 4. None of them really broke out to be a dominant receiver like Rice.
Look, none of these things, including the above chart, in a vacuum means much, but taken as a whole, the stats, the honors, the awards, the rings, the possible intangibles, and yes, the testimonials. What are testimonials? The things people say, like what Young and Parcells said. "In the end, yes" and "I think I would" are not exactly the stuff of first-ballot are they?

Yes, for sure, there are positive testimonials and they are part of  Owens's case, one that WILL land him in Canton. I think, soon, if measured in Hall of Fame years. But if there are so many that do suggest his antics affected the team or he would run poor routes or dropped too many passes (Owens led NFL in drops once, and was in the top four in drops seven other times) for an elite, first- or second ballot receiver, or when the HOF voted for the 2000s All-Decade team he was not First-team but Second-team then maybe the vocal critics can cool their jets as listen to those factoids. Fair is fair, right?

It is possible I am missing something that elevates Owens to the level of Rice and demands that he should have been included in 2016. We look at things close here and we see a strong case for a T.O. induction but not a strong one for inclusion right away like a Rice or Hutson or even Alworth.

We've not even explored the relative value of the "numbers" or "stats" given the rule changes. We just let them speak for themselves. And being second in this and third in that category that does speak loudly the words "Hall of Fame". It just may not be scream sure-fire, slam-dunk first-ballot the vocal critics who want to change a system think it does.

Additionally, the proper way to look at any skill players "numbers" is on a per-game basis. Back in the day the NFL season was 12 games, then, beginning in 1961 it was 14 games, and then in 1978 it rose to 16 games. Those extra games add up over a long career and allow for the compilation of numbers. Also, we've mentioned the issue of eras, but leaving that aside, the numbers most often cited is that Owens is 3rd in touchdowns, all-time and 2nd in yards, all-time.

But what about his all-time rankings on a per game basis?
The numbers are still excellent, but sure-fire first-ballot, as Owens, himself suggests?

Maybe not. Maybe a closer look shows the numbers, at least reasonably, could be considered less than first-ballot.

So, without giving specifics of why it needs to be changed, other than they disagree with a temporary result. They simply tar and feather voters with whom they disagree. Calling them, really, old, white, and out-of-touch in so many words.

If Bill Parcells and Steve Young give qualified "yeses" to the T.O. question, that may be the answer to the questions in and of itself.

My view, not that it matters is, Yes . . . but not a first- or second ballot. Next year would be a good fit, then Moss the year after.

Backing data
Click to enlarge:

A quick and dirty chart, from Pro Football Reference.  The problem is it left out Lofton and Largent, so they were added in. So, we have not independently verified if it left others out. Will do so as time permits, but even so, Owens 11th in Pro Bowls with 6, which is very good.


  1. http://wpkyonline.com/nfl-terrell-owens-is-definitely-a-hall-of-fame-player-charles-woodson-expresses-disappointment-in-six-time-pro-bowlers-hof-snub-espn/

    1. Appeciate that link. It is a good quote. It should be noted that Woodson said, "Marvin Harrison was the best receiver I played against"

      He could have picked anyone. So, to me, Woodson is a 'testimonial' that Harrison was better but both are HOFers. It tells me that Owens is not a first ballot HOFer but should get in soon.


  2. Also, Steve Young is unequivocal in his support, and Parcells's idea of a good receiver is a reliable McConkey type. A Keyshawn Johnson. He wasn't interested in flashy playmakers.

    1. Young said, "in the end, yes". That's positive but not unequivocal.

  3. Ray Berry was also first ballot. No gripes about him being so, either.