The Schein Nine  

 

Terrell Owens heads guys who deserve love on Valentine's Day

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I love love.

And on Valentine's Day, I'd like to give some love to the guys who don't get enough of it.

So here we go: The Schein Nine ... with a Cupid twist!

1) Terrell Owens, retiree

The fact that T.O. didn't make the Hall of Fame earlier this month is absurd, illogical and backward. I know what some of you are thinking: Who would you take out of the class to allow Owens in? Let me be crystal clear here: Everyone. Terrell Owens should've been the first one in. Truthfully, he should've been included in the Class of 2016, in his first year of eligibility.

Owens is an all-time great, plain and simple. Bad teammate? At times, absolutely. But that's not what this is about. On the field, he was out of this world. And the sportswriters/gatekeepers who vote need to toss out personal biases against Owens for being a tough interview. This is a bad look for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It shouldn't be a debate.

T.O. was brilliant during his eight-year stay in San Francisco, averaging 10 touchdown grabs a season and earning first-team All-Pro honors three times. After being highly coveted by the Ravens -- and nearly ending up in Baltimore via trade -- Owens went to Philly in 2004, nabbing first-team All-Pro honors yet again and nearly carrying the Eagles to a Super Bowl win on one leg. For those voters who say he should be judged as a bad teammate, do you remember what he went through at the end of that '04 campaign? Why don't you ask former Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder (now with the Chiefs) if Owens should be in the Hall of Fame? After breaking his leg and tearing ligaments in his ankle in Week 15, Owens returned in Super Bowl XXXIX to record nine catches for 122 yards in a tight, 24-21 loss to the Pats. Lastly, T.O. was dynamic in Dallas, too, scoring 38 touchdowns in three seasons and earning yet another first-team All-Pro nod in 2007.

All in all, the guy ranks eighth in career receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934) and third in touchdown grabs (153). Yes, the stats were majestic. The feel of watching him play was even better.

I'm not telling you Owens was a perfect teammate. When he eventually gets his due in Canton (he had better), it's possible nobody shows up to the induction. What I'm telling you is, it doesn't matter. His frosty relationship with the press shouldn't matter. The fact that he forced his way out of certain teams shouldn't matter.

There are Hall of Famers who set out to push the envelope in their playing days. There are Hall of Famers who had major off-field issues. O.J. Simpson is in the Hall of Fame. But that's the thing: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is about just that: pro football.

Until Owens has a bust in Canton, there's an asterisk on the Hall of Fame.

He deserves more love -- even if you didn't love dealing with him.

2) Jon Robinson, general manager, Tennessee Titans

The Titans GM is off to a great start in his first 14 months of running the show in Tennessee. As my colleague Conor Orr pointed out in our Rookie Grades series, Robinson scored a fantastic haul in his first draft with the team. (SEE: first-team All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin, bruising running back Derrick Henry and later-round steals Kevin Byard and Tajae Sharpe.) Another coup from last offseason: the trade for DeMarco Murray, who bounced back to rush for 1,287 yards in 2016.

Robinson scooped up tough, physical players, helping propel the Titans into a legit playoff chase all year. When Marcus Mariota comes back from his broken leg, the Titans are going to be flying.

And here's the educated guess for this offseason: Tennessee adds an impact receiver. Titans fans should be energized to see what's next. Robinson is a gem.

3) Jordan Howard, running back, Chicago Bears

I joked to Howard when he joined me on radio row at the Super Bowl that no rookie has ever authored that brilliant a debut season without having any chance whatsoever of winning any kind of award. Don't let the neophyte genius of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott completely overshadow what the Bears' rookie just accomplished. Despite entering the league as a fifth-round pick -- and the 10th running back selected -- Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing with 1,313 yards (behind only, yes, Elliott).

I love the Year 1 Pro Bowler's attitude. His confidence, likability and love of Chicago poured through as we spoke. And the 6-foot, 222-pounder runs like Marshawn Lynch. Don't let the Bears' dreadful season cloud the love.

4) Andy Reid, head coach, Kansas City Chiefs

Yes, the Chiefs lost to Pittsburgh at home in the playoffs. But don't let the fact that Reid guided Kansas City to a 12-4 record, AFC West title and first-round bye -- despite the fact that he lost his top ball carrier (Jamaal Charles) and, down the stretch, his defensive leader (Derrick Johnson) -- go unnoticed.

I know the critics point to Reid not winning a Super Bowl. I point to the fact that Reid consistently gets teams to overachieve and remains a top-five coach in the NFL. After a fine run with the Eagles -- which saw Philly make five NFC Championship Games, including four in a row -- he has flourished in Kansas City. His records in four season with the Chiefs: 11-5, 9-7, 11-5, 12-4. Show this man some love!

5) Zach Brown, linebacker, Buffalo Bills

Lost in the shuffle of Rex Ryan's three-ring circus in Buffalo last year was Brown's stellar breakout season. After four mediocre campaigns with the Titans, the former second-round pick was a model of consistency amid a sea of pure chaos in his first year with the Bills.

Brown finished second in the NFL with 149 tackles, but that wasn't all he supplied. The 27-year-old also stuffed the stat sheet with four sacks, two forced fumbles and a pick. This guy has emerged as a true difference maker in this league.

6) Casey Hayward, cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers

Think the Packers could've used their former corner this past season? Yeah, I believe so.

Hayward led the league with seven picks in his first year with the Chargers. New Bolts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley certainly will get a lot out of this cover man, who is right in the prime of his career.

7) James White, running back, New England Patriots

With all due respect to the best quarterback in NFL history, White should've been the Super Bowl LI MVP. (Just ask Tom Brady himself!) That's why I'm giving him a mention in this column. On the biggest stage in American sports, the guy racked up 139 total yards and scored three touchdowns, including the game winner. Yet, his efforts have been (understandably) overshadowed by the all-time greatness of Brady and Bill Belichick, as well as the all-time choke job by Atlanta.

Still, the Patriots' Super Bowl star couldn't wipe the smile off his face when we chatted Monday on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein On Sports." White is smart, humble and versatile -- i.e., he's a vintage Belichick player. And now he will never have to buy a beverage in Boston again. But the love should extend beyond Beantown.

8) Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins

There are a few different levels of the WR1 Club in today's NFL. Landry isn't on the top line, but he's knocking on the door -- and without a big-time quarterback to deliver him the ball.

In his first three NFL seasons, Landry has racked up 84, 110 and 94 catches. He just provided his second consecutive 1,100-yard campaign, making his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. And he's a blue-collar guy who handles his business with class. Love it!

9) Malcolm Jenkins, safety, Philadelphia Eagles

This cat is a very, very good safety for the Eagles. In 2015, Pro Football Focus rated him the best strong safety in football. He was productive again this past year, starting all 16 games (as he's done in each of his three seasons with the Eagles) and logging a pair of pick-sixes.

But honestly, it's Jenkins' work in the community and intelligence on very important social issues that have captured my attention, appreciation and respect. Earlier this month, Jenkins received the 2017 Byron "Whizzer" White Award, which recognizes "players who go above and beyond to perform community service in their team cities and hometowns."

The former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ is a stud, on and off the field.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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