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Hall of Famer? Making a case for Terrell Owens

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Terrell Owens was understandably outraged as the most controversial Hall of Fame snub at NFL Honors last Saturday night.

One of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, Owens ranks second in career receiving yards and third in career touchdowns.

The case against Owens' candidacy starts with the three organizations that cut ties with him during the prime of his career. A divisive locker-room force at times, Owens developed a reputation for undermining or alienating teammates -- particularly, his quarterbacks.

"The Hall of Fame ought to be for people who make their teams better," Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian told The Dallas Morning News in 2016, "not for those who disrupt them and make them worse."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, one of the executives forced to ultimately discard Owens, firmly believes the five-time All-Pro's production outweighs his disruptive antics.

"I know what it is with T.O.," Jones said, per ESPN.com, early this week. "I had a guy that I love and respect and everything (coach Bill Parcells) that never called him anything but 'the player,' OK, so I understand.

"He made serious contributions with us and his team involvement with us does not deserve it to have it be a negative for him being in the Hall of Fame. He was a plus for the Dallas Cowboys."

Hall of Fame voters are instructed to consider only what a player does on the field, leaving arrests, drug issues and other off-the-field concerns out of the picture. Locker-room incidents and public interviews detrimental to the team, on the other hand, are fair game for scrutiny.

It's fair to question the true extent of Owens' corrosive influence when his teams compiled a .556 winning percentage and eight playoff appearances in 15 NFL seasons. If you hold his lack of rings against him, don't you have to acknowledge his shining Super Bowl XXXIX moment when he dominated with nine catches and 122 yards just seven weeks after breaking a bone and tearing ligaments in his lower leg?

Owens' numbers, honors and game film suggest he's a no-brainer choice for the hallowed hall built to memorialize the sport's immortals. What he's missing to date, the Pro Football Journal points out, are the testimonials from peers, teammates and coaches.

In that case, NFL Network's esteemed analysts are here to help.

» Hall of Famer Deion Sanders on NFL GameDay Morning: "When someone like Terrell Owens doesn't make the Hall of Fame consecutively, that's not good for the Hall. That's not what we represent. I played against this guy. This guy was a man amongst boys."

» Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson on NFL Total Access: "When T.O. came to the Seahawks, everybody's work ethic stepped up a bit. ... As soon as T.O. stepped on the field, he was instant offense, he was instant points. Instantly, he made your quarterback better. Period."

» Former Texans and Giants quarterback David Carr on NFL Total Access: "What he did on the field was as good as anyone I've ever seen at the receiver position. ... Take your best three receivers, Owens is in everyone's top three. Every quarterback I've ever talked to, he's in the top three. How is that guy not a Hall of Fame player?"

» Former Vikings, Seahawks and Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson on Good Morning Football: "When you watched T.O. ... you knew right out of the gate he was a living legend in the game, head and shoulders above the competition. His numbers speak so loudly."

» Future Hall of Famer Steve Smith on The Rich Eisen Show: "I think, personally, they want to stick it to him. ... There are a number of Hall of Famers who had numerous off-the-field issues that were 10 times worse, detrimental to their team and detrimental to them individually. And, also, would probably be detrimental to some of their families, some activities that they did."

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