The Hall of Fame selection of a beloved Detroit Lion should be a celebration, and a celebration only. Especially for an unabashed Lions fan who followed the entirety of Calvin Johnson’s career, from playing with “Georgia Tech WR #21” on the 2005 NCAA video game, all the way through his 10 for 137 performance on the road against Chicago in his final game for the inept Lions franchise.
But Calvin’s Hall selection was marred by an unnecessary distraction.
Calvin was a first ballot Hall of Famer, but Terrell Owens was not.
Instead of celebrating the man appropriately nicknamed “Megatron”, social media went into a bit of tizzy, questioning how Johnson could be a first ballot Hall of Famer when Owens had to wait until his third year of eligibility to be honored.
It’s a reasonable question.
Owens finished his career third all time in both receiving yards and touchdowns and eighth in receptions. As dominant Johnson was, his career was relatively brief by comparison and his numbers did not threaten the all-time record books like Owens’ numbers did.
For comparison, the other first ballot wide receivers include Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, Paul Warfield, Lance Alworth and Raymond Berry. The passing boom of the early 2000s arguably revolved around both Moss and Owens. Owens is undoubtedly in the conversation as one of the 3 or 4 best receivers of all time.
But fans shouldn’t pit Johnson and Owens’ careers against each other. Both deserved their respective selections. Instead, fans should direct their attention to Hall of Fame voters, who need to answer some questions. After all, the questioning of Johnson’s Hall of Fame selection is their fault.
Johnson deserved to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
But so did Owens. Period.
The fact that he was not is evidence of the voters holding a years long grudge against Owens, perhaps for doing sit ups in his driveway during training camp. Sure, Owens had his issues, but let’s not pretend that first ballot selections are reserved for righteous men.
Brett Farve held the Packers hostage for years with threats of retirement and he forced his way to a division rival. He made questionable decisions off the field during his time in New York. Lawrence Taylor’s drug abuse and partying did not prevent him from being selected in the first year of his eligibility.
Quite simply, Terrell Owens was an elite player for portions of two separate decades.
Whether someone believed that he was a nice guy should not have played a role in his Hall of Fame selection.
But it did.
And that’s a shame.