By the time Terrell Owens’ Hall of Fame acceptance speech would have been set to begin, he not only will be nowhere near Canton; he may actually not even be in the US. Owens, one of the all-time greats at the wide receiver position in the history of the NFL, appears to be serious about making a return to football at the age of 44.
Earlier this week, he invoked a 10-day clause that opens up a window for the CFL team that claimed negotiating rights to him to either sign him to a contract or to release his rights. Needless to say, the CFL works a little differently than the NFL.
The Edmonton Eskimos were the team that claimed his rights, and they have until about the middle of next week to make a decision. Owens’ agent told David Naylor that his client is “absolutely 100 percent” committed to returning to the game.
“He still feels like he has some football years left in him. He just loves the game and wants to get back to playing whether it’s the CFL or the NFL”. Owens also said that he is not actively seeking a return specifically to the NFL, but of course if a team were interested, so would he be.
While he has done some eye-popping things on the football field over the course of his long career, Owens is probably at least as well known, especially by younger fans, for his antics on and adjacent to the field.
His flair for theatrics and generally drawing attention to himself has rubbed many people the wrong way and has made it difficult for him to find sympathy, let alone the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure that many are skeptical about this resurfacing.
Owens has chosen to boycott the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in the name of all the NFL greats who were made to sit in line and wait their turn for enshrinement. In spite of the fact that he ranks second or third all-time in most meaningful receiving statistics in NFL history, he had to wait until his third year of eligibility to get in, while Randy Moss went in during his first year.
The Hall of Fame responded by saying that they would not acknowledge him during the ceremony, and would largely be persona non grata going forward. While he will be mentioned as part of the class of 2018 whenever it is discussed in that manner, there clearly is some animosity on their end, with multiple voters expressing regret over having elected him.
The cynic would surely argue that Owens’ desire to return to football, and perhaps even literally playing in a football game at the same time as the Hall of Fame Game is taking place between the Ravens and the Bears, is simply a spiteful response to the Hall’s own spiteful response.
A player must be retired for at least five seasons in order to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. A player who unretires restarts his eligibility clock. This applies only to the NFL (and I’m certain he would like to play in the NFL), but to be playing in the CFL during Hall of Fame weekend while he is supposed to be being inducted into the Hall of Fame would certainly not go unnoticed.
Then again, he rarely does.