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Terrell Owens Protests His Own Hall Of Fame Induction


Former pro-football star Terrell Owens was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday in Canton, Ohio. But Owens wasn't there. He was celebrating with fans in Chattanooga, Tenn.. WUTC's Michael Edward Miller explains why.

MICHAEL EDWARD MILLER, BYLINE: Owens has the second all-time NFL record for receiving yards, the third in receiving touchdowns and is considered one of the greatest wide receivers in history. He once snuck a Sharpie on the field...


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: A just-makes-the-catch touchdown.

MILLER: ...So he could immediately autograph the ball after scoring. ABC announcers were surprised and not surprised.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: Who would even think of that?

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Who would think of that? Terrell Owens would think of that.

MILLER: One of his favorite catchphrases is exuberant self-love.


TERRELL OWENS: Because I love me for me.

I love me for me.

MILLER: Sportswriters choose who gets in the Hall. The first time he was eligible, they snubbed him. Some say his arrogance overshadowed his record.

NATHAN SMITH: You either loved him or you hated him. And I think a lot of the media hated him. So I think that's why he probably got pushed back a few years.

MILLER: That's Nathan Smith, a fan who drove from Missouri to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. This is Owens's alma mater. Owens said he was honored to be inducted, but he had his own ceremony here 600 miles away from the Hall and the other inductees, a courageous choice according to Owens himself.

In a campus arena, some wear Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys jerseys, a couple of his old pro teams. He stepped up to the podium...


OWENS: So I want to address the elephant in the room.

MILLER: Why was he boycotting the ceremony in Ohio? He claims the Hall of Fame voting process is flawed. Players should be judged on performance, not personality.


OWENS: That the sportswriters are not in alignment with the mission and core values of the Hall of Fame.

MILLER: Also he says he skipped Ohio because he wanted to give back to his fans at UT Chattanooga.


OWENS: This was for you.


MILLER: Eric Winters was one such fan. He watched with his son and appreciated it. If Owens had gone to Ohio, Winters would have missed this.

ERIC WINTERS: So, you know, it's historic to me. So I just wanted my son to be a part of it. And we can look back on it and say, hey, we were there, you know, and all this stuff. So maybe we'll get to meet him. I mean, you never know, so...

MILLER: On stage, Owens teared up when his mother presented him with his gold Hall of Fame jacket. Today he was humbled. For NPR News, I'm Michael Edward Miller. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michael Edward Miller