Terrell Owens should have had a better excuse for blowing off his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
You know, like maybe he was going bowling.
That, at least, might have been understood in the tiny universe of T.O., the one the former wide receiver lives in and no one else seems to penetrate. Owens was so into bowling after his football career was over that he tried to go pro, only to be undone by slippery lane conditions.
Owens was a lot more successful in football, where his numbers were so good he arguably — and Owens argues this most — should have been inducted in Canton in his first year of eligibility. It wasn't until his third year that Owens was voted in, part of a class that includes, among others, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis and fellow wide receiver Randy Moss.
They'll all be there, slipping on the gold jackets for the first time that signify they're the best of the best.
Owens probably will get his in the mail.
That's entirely on T.O., and it's not entirely surprising. His great numbers always came with great problems, and he's never been one to forget a slight, perceived or otherwise.
That's why he's still engaged in a mostly one-way feud with Donovan McNabb, 13 years after the Philadelphia Eagles lost the 2005 Super Bowl to New England and Owens famously said he "wasn't the guy who got tired" in the game.
It's also why he's spending the day he should be getting his gold jacket at a ceremony of his own at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he went to college.
Hard to say exactly, but it seems T.O. is not happy with the way the media covered him over his 15-year career. He believes he got a bad rap as a bad teammate, and didn't get the credit for the things he did on the field for his teams.
And he's really not happy with being skipped over two years before finally being voted into the hall.
Just T.O. being T.O., a familiar scene to anyone who followed his career. Now Owens can claim a first that may hold a long time — the only living player of the 318 elected to the Hall of Fame who refused to attend his own induction.
"It wasn't like he had to wait that long," said Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News, who championed Owens cause to his 47 fellow Hall of Fame voters. "A lot of people have waited a lot longer than three years."
Owens may not be there to get his jacket, but he'll still be a Hall of Famer. There will be a T.O. bust, and provisions have been made to send him a jacket.
But he won't be inducted individually like the others in his class in what should be one of the greatest moments of his life.
His call, yes. But if Owens is trying to make a point, it's likely to get lost in the fuss being made over those actually in Canton for their inductions.
Then again, this is a player who held a bizarre press conference while working out in his driveway after being suspended for arguing with Eagles coach Andy Reid prior to the 2005 season. Shirtless and doing sit-ups, Owens mostly answered "no comment" before exasperated writers asked him if he was trying to set a record for offering no comment.
"No comment," he said.
Wide receivers tend to be a strange breed, even if Owens took it to a new level. Moss, after all, once famously walked off the field with 2 seconds left in a game and his Minnesota Vikings lined up for an onside kick attempt.
Moss will be in Canton on Saturday for his induction, and maybe Owens didn't want to share the stage with him. Unlike Owens, Moss got in in his first year of eligibility.
A look at the numbers makes the case for Owens, who had a great career playing in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. Owens is second only to Jerry Rice in receiving yards, and third in touchdown catches behind Rice and Moss. He was a six-time Pro Bowl pick, and his touchdown celebrations live on in NFL lore.
Yes, he once questioned the sexuality of one of his quarterbacks. Yes, he threw quarterbacks and coaches under the bus whenever it suited his fancy.
But he deserves to be in Canton. He should be in Canton.
"I don't understand what he's trying to accomplish here, but he's a tough guy to understand," Domowitch said. I think he's going to regret it later on because a lot of the Hall of Famers are going to hold it against him. Part of the joy of being one of those guys is not just getting inducted but all the things you go to together in the future. When the other Hall of Famers get together, he won't really be welcomed."
No, he won't, though to Owens it doesn't seem to matter.
It's just T.O. being T.O.