The Hall of Fame will be fighting petty with petty.
Apparently miffed that receiver Terrell Owens has decided not to attend the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, Owens will get minimal attention as he officials enters the Hall of Fame.
As explained by Hall of Fame voter Clark Judge (in an article that makes his feelings on the matter abundantly clear), the Hall of Fame will not announce Owens’ name during the Friday night gold jacket ceremony or during Saturday night’s enshrinement.
“The focus is on the guys who are here,” Hall of Fame executive director Joe Horrigan told Judge.
Of course, that same reasoning would apply to new Hall of Famers who are inducted posthumously (and that attitude partially exists when it comes to induction speeches and Hall of Fame jackets and rings). But this isn’t about Hall of Famers being available to attend; it’s about one of them having the perceived audacity to choose not to attend. In obvious retaliation for Owens’ choosing not to be there, the Hall of Fame is acting like he doesn’t exist.
Sure, he’ll get his jacket in the mail. And, yes, he’ll be mentioned when references are made to the entire class. Beyond that, nothing.
“There’s no reason to bring him up as an individual,” said Horrigan. “He’s not here.”
Judge responds to that sentiment by saying, “Bingo.” I’d use a different word that starts with B.
This was the opportunity for the Hall of Fame to take the high road, to acknowledge Owens by name, to display a video of the achievements that earned him a spot in Canton. Instead, the proprietors of the museum have decided to mimic the scattered members of the Selection Committee who have a bug up their butts because T.O. won’t take his seat alongside the rest of the class.
The enshrinement festivities are (or at least should be) about celebrating the greatness that earned the player a permanent place in the Hall of Fame. It shouldn’t be about settling scores or acting on vendettas or engaging in tit-for-tat exchanges. The Hall of Fame is (or at least should be) better than that.
Clearly, it’s not. But we already knew that, given the manner in which specific members of the Selection Committee opted to justify the decision to omit T.O. on his first and second try not by explaining that there are too many worthy finalists and most need to wait a bit but by trashing him so viciously that it made some say, “Why are you even considering him?”
But they did consider him. And they did enshrine him. And even if they don’t like the fact that he’s exercising his right not to show up and display appropriate gratitude and deference to the custodians of the museum, he should at least be mentioned individually, and his bust should be unveiled in front of everyone in attendance.
With so many owners and other persons of influence on the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees, here’s hoping one of these grown-ups makes a grown-up decision.