The passing of Yahoo! Sports NFL reporter Terez Paylor was a devastating one, not just for media colleagues and fans of his writing, but for players, too.
Terrell Owens, in particular, was especially moved by Paylor.
While Owens was undoubtedly a Hall of Famer, his polarizing personality was intensely debated among the mostly white voters, which was enough to keep him out of Canton his first two years on the ballot.
According to Bob Glauber of Newsday, it was Paylor who gave an impassioned, heartfelt speech in Owens’ favor that left a lasting impact on many of the writers.
After hearing Paylor’s speech, the voters were left speechless and many with a different perspective of the wide receiver, according to Glauber and Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.
Owens had not known about this speech on his behalf until this past week.
“I get glassy-eyed just thinking about it,” he told Glauber. “My condolences to his family. It’s so sad. I didn’t hear anything about Terez and his perspective and how they were deliberating on me. It’s so unfortunate that I’m learning this after this man’s passing. Honestly, I wish I could have spoken to him to say thank you for what he did.”
Maiocco said that Paylor presented the argument about the impact Owens had on young, Black NFL fans growing up and how he embodied a Hall of Famer.
“To hear a young Black man talk about what drew him to the sport that he loved and what made an impression on him as a young man growing up was a perspective that I had personally never considered when it comes to that [Hall of Fame] room,” Maiocco said.
Owens believes Paylor’s lobbying was courageous.
“What he did is what I did,” Owens said. “You’re being courageous. You’re standing up, sometimes against giants. For him to be that young in a room of elders and people that have been on that committee for some time, that speaks volumes.”
Owens did not attend his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he does wish he could have known Paylor personally to thank him.
For [Paylor] to have the courage to stand on the table…he didn’t know me personally, but I think him being a Black man and being a young guy and understanding where this generation is now, using our voice, is meaningful,” he said. “I just wish I could have thanked him.”