Say it's not so, T.O.
Please, please, please say it's not so.
Sweetly tweet or loudly shout to the world today, tomorrow or on any other reasonable date prior to the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 4 that you, Terrell Eldorado Owens, really will be there in one of those pale beige/yellow blazers that all inductees dutifully wear.
Please, please, please tell the world by social media, telegram or smoke signal that Thursday's news flash that you will reportedly be the first inductee ever to decline an invitation to attend that ceremony was all a silly joke gone wrong.
That you'll quite happily and proudly join past inductees such as your childhood hero Jerry Rice, Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, Sam Huff and Walter Payton in being rightly recognized as one of the all-time bests of your sport.
For whatever reason — pride, insecurity, selfishness, narcissism — you've always wanted to stand out in a crowd. Joining the Hall of Fame assures you of that for the rest of your life and beyond. Period.
And given that, do you really want to go down in history as the ungrateful jerk who became the first player to turn his back on the Hall? Do you really want to be perceived as some megalomaniac who let the incredibly petty argument — at least we're assuming this is your argument — that you should have gotten in sooner justify such bewildering behavior?
If nothing else, what about all the folks who've helped you along the way? Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Buddy Nix and his staff and all your Mocs teammates. The NFL quarterbacks for San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia who threw you most of the 153 career touchdowns you caught (third in NFL history) and 15,934 receiving yards you gained (second all-time). Your mother and grandmother who raised you back in Alexander City, Alabama.
What about all of them? How can you deny them that single night of national recognition?
The sad part is, you seemed to be growing up and out of your long troublesome nobody-appreciates-me attitude. You've begun to embrace your college roots after years of largely turning your back on so many folks in the Scenic City who care about you.
Maybe you didn't exactly handle the original announcement during last winter's Super Bowl weekend that you were in on your third try as well as you might have. But even leaving Minneapolis before the announcement had a certain amount of sweetness to it, since you reportedly were afraid you'd be denied a third time.facebook
And had your "Hall of Shame" line been heard by more voters before you were voted in, you might still be a Hall of Fame wannabe. But you did get in. And if you'd wanted to needle a few of the people who voted against you in years one and two, what better stage than your induction speech in August.
Instead, you've apparently chosen to deny all of us who've believed in you a chance to celebrate that you were always right and a few prejudiced voters always wrong. And that gesture alone — refusing to attend — gives needless ammo to all those folks who've long said your attitude wasn't worthy of the Hall, that your behavior far more closely mirrored a Hall of Shame.
Yes, your Thursday statement was well done: "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. 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."
But being there in Canton would be so much better. So much more appreciative. So very much smarter.
So please, please reconsider, T.O. Don't let a childish boycott of your crowning sports moment become the lasting memory most folks have of your Hall of Fame career.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.