Thursday, February 11, 2016

Put Terrible Owens In The NFL Hall Of Fame

Use This For His Bust
Want to know how to keep people talking about your athletic career years after it is over? Have a bunch of context-free numbers that allows a lot of people who only watch numbers, instead of the games, to pule that you should be in the Hall of Fame.

Because, well, its February, and watching what might be the best team in NBA history involves watching regular season basketball games. And watching hockey is watching hockey, and continuing to watch Super Bowl ads three days after its over is just like eating three day old pizza. That wasn't any good to start with, but I digress.

Which leads to the life and times of Terrible Terrell Owens, destroyer of worlds and multiple franchises, owner of nearly 16K receiving yards, over 150 TDs, a 4-8 playoff record with an 0-4 close, and jerseys from five teams, three of which he more or less destroyed with personal weirdness. It's been five long years since a 37-year-old Owens gimped his way to just under 1K yards for the Bengals, following a nomadic wandering through the CFL and reality television. Since Owens, well, destroyed three franchises rather than just played football, he's got no real constituency for the Hall; if he were to go in, his helmet should have a dollar sign or a microphone on it, really. But in our modern age, a constituency exists for him: fantasy nerds who never cared about whether or not he won a playoff game, since those didn't count for their nerd gambling game!

There is no denying Owens' talent or productivity, of course; you don't get to those numbers and last 15 years with most people wanting to take your head off without being a world-class talent. And sure, his game really had a lot to do with relatively ineffective force-feeding of targets due to his toxic personality, but hey. 1,078 career catches coming on 1,711 targets, or a 63% catch rate, isn't that bad. He was only around 50% for the last three stat-hogging years of his career. Between the lines, he belongs.

But to explain his career as just numbers, or to feel that these things just overwhelm anything else involving his candidacy, is kind of like insisting that OJ Simpson is historically relevant based on what he did on the field only.

When Owens left San Francisco, it was a hot mess, but one that a career could recover from. The organization was going strongly downhill from the Young / Montana era, and getting out by any means fair or foul was defensible. He went to the Eagles in 2004, had 1200 yards and 14 TDs in 14 games, then came back in the Super Bowl to be the best player in the laundry, despite injury. Had he simply, well, played football from that point on, or never recovered from the injury, he would have owned this media market for the rest of his life. No, seriously; his jersey outsold everyone's, everyone was all-in for him, and the way he clowned the media was fantastic. Fighting with the media is always OK when it's the Philly media.

Instead, he did sit ups in his driveway, destroyed the locker room with clear air turbulence contract demands, then forced his way to a release. Honestly, Andy Reid's coaching career was never the same. Owens replicated the trainwreck with years of more trainwreck, because Dallas. He ended there being more or less hated by both fan bases, which is honestly hard to do, and set the standard for Toxic Wideout for years to come. There's nothing that Dez Bryant is going to do to this franchise that he didn't learn from the Terrible Playbook.

So does he belong in Canton? Sure, fine, whatever, because as soon as he's in, the sooner we can never talk about him again, and honestly, there's nothing else we want, as football fans, than to never talk about Owens again. (Hey, Terrible? This also means I want you to outlive me, so I don't have to deal with the head-popping positive eulogies that will come your way. Eat some kale.) So long as he doesn't pollute America's airwaves by showing up in studios (because there's no team that will ever be so crazy as to hire him to coach), we're all good. Put him in Canton.

Preferably in his own room, that no one else can go into, so it also has room for his ego, and his friends, and the teammates that will be happy for him. It'll also give the nerds somewhere to go, so they don't ruin the building for people who care about who actually won the games.

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