Rickey Jackson, Willie Roaf say Terrell Owens may regret skipping Hall of Fame induction
Of all of the honors a football can receive, being voted into and being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is the highest possible achievement.
After being denied enshrinement in his first two years of eligibility, Owens was voted into the hallowed Hall for the Class of 2018.
Two years is not a long wait, yet Owens was miffed at being passed over. As a result, he announced late last week that he will not attend his induction in August, the first person elected to elect not to attend.
Most observers feel Owens deserved to go in previously but he is hardly alone in having to wait a big longer than perhaps he should have. Owens ranks second in NFL history in receiving yardage, third in touchdown receptions and eighth in receptions. He is the only receiver in history to score a touchdown against all 32 teams in the NFL.
Many have appealed to Owens to reconsider his decision, including former 49ers teammate Steve Young. Many others have criticized Owens’ decision, including Michael Irvin.
The move is unprecedented.
No previous honoree has skipped the actual induction.
Rickey Jackson has been inducted into the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the Saints Hall of Fame and the Saints Ring of Honor. In 2010, he became the first “true” New Orleans Saint to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, earning the honor on the same weekend that the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. Jackson appeared in six Pro Bowls.
Speaking on All Access on WGSO 990AM Monday evening, Jackson reminisced about his special moment.
“You’ll never forget that, you know, they’ve only got 310 in it and about 160 are dead,” Jackson said. “It’s a tight-knit group. It’s always great. Anytime you’ve only got 150 or so in the world, that’s great. You’ve got o many great football players and you always want to be in that company. You are just waiting on your time to get in. That’s the whole thing, just waiting. I knew I was going to get in sooner or later.”
Like Owens, Jackson had to wait longer than he should have to bet inducted but unlike Owens, he appreciated the opportunity to be honored.
“Everybody has their own opinion and their own life,” Jackson said. “That’s the route he chooses. For me to judge anybody, it’s not my call. He thinks he’s doing what’s best for him. That’s his decision. My decision was to go and get my jacket and honor the game that I love so much. I played the game ever since I can remember. It was something I was looking forward to and wanted. Every year went by and you wondered what was taking them so long. It was something I wanted. He’s (Owens) a different cat.”
Owens will miss out on some big opportunities by skipping his induction on August 4.
“He’s missing a lot of signing he can make a whole lot of money,” Owens said. “He has a lot of classmates. What he’s missing more is his parents, brother and sisters coaches and everybody. You get a chance to thank a lot of people. You can tell them thank you but it isn’t like the world knowing you are thanking them. Once the world sees you thanking people, that’s a whole lot different than you telling them. You have great coaches and family members. That’s just him. He’s making his decision.”
While Owens feels like he should have been in previously, Jackson says he should take the example of another player who waited a long time to be honored.
“If Robert Brazile would have done that, it would have been justified more than T.O.,” Jackson said. “Robert Brazile, he was the best linebacker before me and L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) came around. He was in the top one or two linebackers in the NFL for a long time. He made eight or nine Pro Bowls. A guy like that didn’t get in for years and he should have been in. If somebody like that did something like that, it would be different. He didn’t do that. Everybody realizes T.O. is a different cat. He may regret it.”
Brazile will be inducted this year as well.
Willie Roaf played for the Saints from 1993-2001 before playing four more years for the Kansas City Chiefs. He played in 11 Pro Bowls, including seven as a Saint. He was inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the Saints Hall of Fame and was an inaugural member of the Saints Ring of Honor.
On WGSO Monday evening, Roaf said none of those great honors compare to being honored into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which happened for him in 2012.
“Going into the Hall of Fame, that was the biggest thing,” Roaf said. “I didn’t get a chance to play in a lot of playoff games and I won only one (2000). You never go into it thinking you will get into it. I didn’t even know I was going to play college football, let alone pro football. Making it to the Hall of Fame and having your family and everybody being there to be a part of it, that is the highlight of the career, the icing on the cake. It was the pinnacle for me in sports.”
Roaf thoroughly enjoyed his time in Canton.
“It was great,” Roaf said. “We had a good time. It’s a great event. We had a great party afterwards. It was all that and more. The fact that I get to go back every year and be a part of it, they encourage us to come back and they take care of everything. You get to see those guys and interact. The fact that I get to go back every year to be a part of it and be around those guys and see them a lot is great. It’s always a lot of fun.”
The actions of Owens will not sit well with those who preceded him in the Hall of Fame.
“He’s missing the coming in with that camaraderie,” Roaf said. “The fact that he’s doing this is going to rub the older guys the wrong way. You’ve got guys like Larry Little, guys that have been in the Hall and have never missed a year in 25 to 30 years. They’ve been back every year. It’s a kind of respect for the game for you to show up with your classmates. I have two of my classmates
“I have two of my classmates that I went in with, Jack Butler passed away right after that year and Cortez Kennedy isn’t here, anymore,” Roaf said. “He passed away last May. You never know what’s going to happen in life.”
Roaf feels Owens, who was not well liked by the media or by opposing fans, is missing an opportunity to make amends.
“This would have been a chance for him to clear up a lot of the misunderstanding and make it positive about him, the fact that he would be there,” Roaf said. “He could haven taken away the negativity from everything they said about him during his football career. Him not showing up hurts that and I know he has children. He has a legacy to worry about. His bust is going to be there. He’s going to get his jacket and his ring but you get that once in a lifetime experience to go in with your class and he won’t be able to do that.”
Roaf feels Owens may end up regretting his decision.
“He won’t be able to go across that stage, unveil his bust and have his coach or people that impacted him and helped him with this journey,” Roaf said. “He earned and worked hard for everything he got. You can’t take away what he did on the football field as a player. It’s just sad that he won’t give his family and the people that were there for him a chance to experience that and that was one of the highlight’s of my father’s life was him walking across that stage. He passed away last September. He (Owens) is missing out on that.”
Roaf feels that Owens likely feels slighted by not going into the Hall of Fame earlier.
“I didn’t go in on the first ballot,” Roaf said. “I had a great career. I’m a two-time all-decade player in the league and I was more pissed I wasn’t on the all Top 100 team than going in on the first ballot of the Hall of Fame. I had to wait a year. It happens. There are a lot of great players. That doesn’t take away from how good a football player I was. It is the same with him.”
As the saying goes, to each his own.
Despite being one of the all-time greatest in NFL history at his position, Terrell Owens has always been all about his own. Ultimately, he will have to own his decision as he stands alone with his conviction as he allows his ego to get the best of him, preventing him from experiencing what could be the best moment of his lifetime. It is his loss.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…