Terrell Owens ranks second all-time in receiving yards (15,934), third in receiving touchdowns (153) and sixth in receptions (1,078). And yet, he is not in the Hall of Fame, presumably for his reputation as a bad teammate and divisive locker-room presence.
But is Owens’ reputation fact or fiction?
“Well, it just depends on who the media ask,” Terrell Owens said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Somebody such as a Donovan (McNabb), those guys are the ones that matter. I’ve had this conversation with Skip Bayless, who (has) basically said there’s a number of people that he’s asked (who said I was divisive). I’m like, ‘Okay, who are those people? Don’t just give me hearsay or anonymous sources.’ So again, I have attached some names for a number of players for a number of the teams that I played on to dispute that and dispel some of those rumors.”
McNabb recently appeared on Tiki and Tierney and said that Owens made the Eagles better and that he is absolutely a Hall of Famer.
“To hear Donovan say that, that’s commendable,” Owens said. “I think during the times that we played, I think had he been asked that, I don’t know if that would have been the answer. But I’ve never been the locker room divisive type of player that people have really pinned me to be. So again, not everybody is going to be a perfect football teammate. Throughout my career, I realized I made some mistakes throughout the course of my career. But at the end of the day, if you ask one or two people, they don’t speak for the majority – or shouldn’t speak for the majority – of the locker room.
“For me, I went to Philadelphia to do exactly what Donovan said,” Owens continued. “I tried to give them that oomph, that swagger, to get beyond the four NFC Championships that they didn’t get beyond. That’s commendable on Donovan’s part. What I did with Philadelphia and every other quarterback, I can’t do on the football field without the quarterback. What I did there, it goes hand-in-hand. So he’s one of the better quarterbacks that I played with in my career.”
Both Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney feel there’s a lot of merit to what Owens is saying, but they can’t past one potentially telling tidbit: If Owens was so great – and he was – why did he play for five different teams?
“There was never really a problem (in San Francisco),” Owens said. “From the point that I stood on that star (in Dallas), I became a lightning rod – I became a target – for the media. That’s when everybody started to say (I was) a bad teammate. All of my celebrations and all of my touchdowns were to really just have fun with the game. So when people started to not like me because I was doing dances and then the players started complaining and the coaches from opposing teams start complaining that I was dancing, it was no different than what Cam (Newton) did this year. They started not to like me. So I became a target for (anything) and everything that was really minuscule, especially in comparison with what’s happening with today’s players.
“What did I do that disrespected the integrity of the game?” Owens continued. “What I did when I scored, I just had fun with the game. It’s no different than what Cam Newton was doing. He was dancing, he was celebrating with his teammates. Every team that I played on, in the locker room, my coaches knew what was swirling around as far as the media was concerned. My coaches and my teammates were like, ‘Dude, we don’t have a proem with it. Go have fun. If you’re having fun and we’re winning games, there’s no problem in the locker room. It’s only the media’s perception of what you’re talking about.”
Owens, 42, said he will in no way lobby to be a Hall of Famer because his career speaks for itself.
“If you don’t like me and that’s the reason I’m not in the Hall of Fame, then so be it,” Owens said. “I think it’s a black eye for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and everybody that’s associated with it because that’s not what the Hall of Fame is about.”
Owens was released by the Eagles in March 2006 and signed with the Cowboys days later. He spent three years in Dallas and said he tried his best to fit in and not be a distraction. Still, he was released in March 2009, which may or may not have had something to do with Owens allegedly saying that Tony Romo and Jason Witten were drawing up their own plays on offense. Owens, the story goes, complained that he wasn’t getting the ball enough, which angered Jason Garrett, which led to Owens’ release.
Owens denied that.
“Dude, I’m not an ignorant person,” he said. “I wouldn’t go into Dallas and try to disrupt or try to create any havoc considering I’ve already left two franchises where people said it was my fault for ruining them. I’m trying to be a leader. I’m trying to do things differently, so I learned that whatever is said in-house should stay that way.”
If Owens had any issue in Dallas, he would’ve addressed it with the source as opposed to airing it publicly.
“These are things that we have kept in house,” Owens said, “and I knew that. I already had issues in San Francisco and Philly, so why would I do something to disrupt something we were trying to accomplish? I’m not a vocal guy and I led by example by what I did on the football field. Me learning through my process of trying to be a leader, we went to Garrett and he said his door’s open and whatever’s said in there stays in there.”