Hall of Fame to "honor" absent Owens as part of 2018 class
By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
Despite his decision to not attend Saturday's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Terrell Owens will be "honored" by the hall for his NFL career.
Hall President David Baker tells The Associated Press on Monday that the Canton, Ohio, shrine's mission statement begins with the goal "to honor the heroes of the game."
So Owens, who instead will be making an appearance at the University of Chattanooga , where he played college football, will be part of the 2018 class exhibit that includes a glass locker for each new member; their pictures on the light standards of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium; a role in opening videos shown within the stadium; and mention in any reference to the 2018 class.
Baker said NFL Network and ESPN, which both televise the inductions, will show a video of Owens' career to the audience at home. That video will not be shown in the stadium.
"It's difficult he will not be here to put on the jacket, unveil his bust, make a speech, and attend the parade," Baker says. "For those things, there's nothing we can do."
Owens has cited the fact it took three years of eligibility for him to make the hall, claiming there were false representations of him as a teammate during the voting process. He also noted that no former players vote, ignoring that Hall of Famers James Lofton and Dan Fouts are among those on the committee.
The 44-year-old Owens had a mostly sensational 15-year career playing for San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. He is second to Jerry Rice in receiving yards and third in touchdown catches behind Rice and Randy Moss, who is entering the hall this week and will attend the festivities.
But he also eventually wore out his welcome in those cities, and now Canton probably can be added to that list.
Though he will always be received properly at the hall, Baker says.
"I told him I am very disappointed, it is unprecedented, and we've certainly been trying to persuade him to come," Baker says. "He has a whole city here, with 4,800 volunteers who do everything to honor these guys. For him, this could be the opportunity to be honored the way I believe he always felt he should be honored.
"We respect he has strong feelings of his own and I respect his right to make that decision. I invited him to the hall, even at the last moment he would be welcomed, and he is welcomed every day the rest of his life. Even though he is not here, we will honor him to the best of our ability."
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