NEW YORK (AP) – Terrell Owens said that he will not attend the induction ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, an unprecedented decision by an enshrinee. Owens was voted into the hall in February after being denied in his first two years of eligibility.
In a statement released Thursday by his publicist, Owens said, “While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton.” The hall confirmed that the former All-Pro receiver informed them that he would not be on hand August 4 for the enshrinements.
“We are disappointed but will respect Terrell’s decision not to participate in the enshrinement,” Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker said. “While unprecedented, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the nearly 5,000 volunteers and the entire community are committed to celebrating the excellence of the Class of 2018 that will kick off the NFL’s 99th season.”
“As we do not want to detract from this great honor being enjoyed by the seven other members of the class of 2018 — Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher — their family, friends, and fans, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will have no further comment on the decision made by Terrell Owens,” Baker added.
Owens entered the league as a third-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 1996 and developed into a star known for some memorable playoff appearances, including his winning 25-yard touchdown catch to beat the Green Bay Packers in 1999, his 177 yards in a comeback win against the New York Giants in 2003, and his nine catches for 122 yards in the 2004 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots just seven weeks after breaking his leg.
Owens ranks second to Jerry Rice with 15,934 yards receiving and is third on the all-time touchdowns receiving list with 153.
Owens heavily criticized the voting process when he failed to be elected in 2016 and 2017. Among the reasons that he fell short were his being considered a divisive teammate and negative presence in the locker room. Still, he received strong consideration for the hall before getting in last February, along with Moss, another standout receiver.
As perhaps an indicator that he might skip the August ceremony, Owens did not attend the announcement that he had been selected to the hall.
On Thursday, Owens said in his statement, “After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere. At a later date, I will announce where and when I will celebrate my induction.”
Owens added his thanks to the 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
“I am thankful for the relationships forged and the lessons learned while part of each team,” Owens said. “I wish to congratulate all past, current and future inductees. It is quite an honor to be part of such elite company. This honor is something that I will cherish forever.”
Owens just won’t be on hand to see his bust unveiled in August.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)