Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 6/4/12
Bengals-receiver-terrell

To use a famous Terrell Owens quote, “Get your popcorn ready” because it is only a matter of time until T.O. will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But will he be a first ballot Hall of Famer, which his stats suggest he is? Or will T.O.’s off-the-field and locker room antics doom him when he name comes up for a vote?

And will he do sit ups while giving his acceptance speech?

The Impressive Statistical Legacy of Terrell Owens

Outside of winning a Super Bowl, Terrell Owens has done it all as a wide receiver.

In terms of career statistics, he ranks close to or ahead of all-time great receivers such as Jerry Rice, Chris Carter, Tim Brown, and Randy Moss. T.O. is second in all-time receiving yards, fourth in total touchdowns (second among wide receivers), and sixth in career receptions.

After fifteen seasons in the NFL, in which he played for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals, he accumulated 1,078 receptions, 15,934 receiving yards, and 156 total touchdowns (153 receiving). Owens was named to six Pro Bowls, five All-Pro teams, and played in the Super Bowl during the 2004 season.

T.O. has first-ballot Hall of Famer talent and production, but since the voting process can be very political, his touchdown celebrations and off-the-field controversies may negatively impact his chances of being a first-ballot selection.

Owens was an exceptional talent at wide receiver–arguably in the top five to seven players at the position in the history of the NFL. Of that elite group of wide receivers, Rice was the only one who was a first-ballot Hall of Famer as Carter, Brown, and Andre Reed were not voted in this spring, but they will most likely be enshrined in Canton within a year or two.

Jerry Rice will forever go down in NFL history as the greatest wide receiver to play the game because of his untouchable statistical accomplishments, three Super Bowl rings, and thirteen Pro Bowl selections. While Terrell Owens cannot match Rice’s playoff success, his receiving numbers are at the top of the all-time charts, occasionally second to only Rice.

Owens’ play on the football field, however, may be forever overshadowed by the rest of the package that came with T.O.

The Confounding Off-the-Field Legacy of T.O.

Despite his 9-reception, 122-yard performance in Super Bowl XXXIX, he is most remembered for calling out Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb for “getting tired at the end of the game.” Then there was his hydrocodone overdose incident in Dallas, in which he allegedly attempted suicide and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance to receive treatment. Later in that same year, Owens spat in the face of Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall and later apologized for his actions.

Terrell Owens eventually landed his own reality show, “The T.O. Show.” The show aired for three seasons and followed the life of the wide receiver and two of his close female friends. During his time in Cincinnati, he and fellow wide receiver Chad Ochocinco teamed up to create a show called the “T.Ocho Show,” which turned out to be a major flop.

Sadly for T.O., his great playing career ended with a whimper. With no more NFL teams interested in him after his one season with the Bengals, he was forced to play for the Indoor Football League’s Allen Wranglers in order to continue his professional football career. He was released midway through the season even though he was reportedly part of the team’s ownership group.

What makes many wide receivers in the NFL so great is their desire to succeed and receive the glory that comes with it. However, this can come back to haunt them when it become selfishness and they begin the wear the hat of a celebrity or a diva instead of an NFL player.

Sadly, Terrell Owens’ highly successful playing days often take a back seat to the conflicts he started with teammates throughout his career, his failed reality television shows, and having all 32 NFL reject him in 2011.

Had T.O. been a more team-oriented player, maybe he could have helped a team win a Super Bowl and added team success to his resumé that is filled with individual glory. Jerry Rice is one of the greatest football players the NFL has ever seen because he used his skill at wide receiver to help the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowls.

If T.O. could have won at least one Super Bowl, he too could have been a realistic candidate for a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

*****

What do you think? Does T.O. have any chance of being a first ballot Hall of Famer when his time comes?

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