After Being Snubbed for Being an Unapologetic
Black Man Unafraid to Challenge White Authority

After two years of being literally blackballed from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former NFL receiver Terrell Owens was finally selected as a 2018 inductee in his third year of eligibility. 

At last, the “haters” finally reality-checked themselves and voted in arguably the second greatest receiver in the modern era of football, behind only the great Jerry Rice. 

FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2005, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens (81) reacts after a 30-yard reception against the New England Patriots during the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The two teams meet in a rematch in Super Bowl 52 on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

But now that Owens is finally in, I find myself extremely curious to know how he truly feels about getting into the same “good ole’ boys” club that once tried so passionately to keep him out. 

Owens sent out a tweet upon hearing the news, congratulating the rest of the 2018 class, which included former Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins and Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. The 44-year-old Owens hasn’t spoken with the media yet, but according to Yahoo Sports, Hall of Fame President David Baker said Owens was “humbled” upon receiving a phone call notifying him of his induction. 

“He was very calm, but very respectful, I would even say kind of humbled,” Baker said. 

More than anything, Owens was probably just surprised that he was even selected in the first place. Despite the jaw-dropping statistics he produced throughout his 16-year career, Owens failed to even make the list of finalists during his first two years of eligibility. Media pundits who vote for the Hall of Fame offered arguments against Owens’ induction, claiming that his controversial antics on the sidelines and in the locker room divided the teams that he played on, ultimately hurting those teams’ chances at success. 

Well, I’m calling bull. 

Owens had been left out of the Hall for one reason and one reason only: the media guys that have a vote simply didn’t like T.O. and the persona of unapologetic Black excellence that he presented. 

Most NFL fans probably remember Owens as a once-in-a-lifetime entertainer. Nobody could catch a 60-yard touchdown bomb and then celebrate in the end zone quite like T.O. But what I most remember about Owens was his incredibly high self-confidence and his willingness to always speak genuinely from the heart. He was a big, strong Black man who didn’t look at any of the White men who coached him as some sort of fake father figure. He was his own man with his own mind and his own voice, and was never afraid to voice exactly what was on that mind. If his coach was blowing the game with bad decisions, Owens wasn’t afraid to publicly challenge that coach. 

Of course, White America never liked a confident Black man unafraid to challenge authority. Some would even say they fear such a man, which breeds dislike. Colin Kaepernick would probably testify to that, as would most of the Black men in America. We all can relate to the disdain Owens experienced from privileged White folk during his pro career and after. And that makes it that much sweeter to see him finally getting the props he rightfully earned. 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor