BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — It’s almost impossible to separate the careers of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.
Owens played from 1996-2010, Moss’ first year was 1998 and he retired after 2012. Both made six Pro Bowls. Both had Super Bowl heartache. They’re neighbors on the all-time lists: Moss is second in career touchdown catches and fourth in yards, Owens is third in receiving touchdowns and second in yards. They were both outspoken, controversial and never boring. Both looked like sure Hall of Famers when they played.
It would be fitting if the duo made it to Canton together. Moss and Owens are a part of the group of finalists who voters will decide on Saturday. The hall’s class of 2018 will be announced Saturday night. No more than five modern-era finalists can be elected, but it seems there’s only one lock (linebacker Ray Lewis) and perhaps first-time finalist Moss should be a lock too. But as Owens can attest, it’s not always as easy as it seems.
Despite five All-Pro nods and 1,078 career receptions, 15,934 receiving yards and 156 total touchdowns, Owens has been passed over twice as a finalist. It’s the most controversial snub by the Hall of Fame voters in recent years. As a player, it’s undeniable Owens was a Hall of Fame talent. Voters clearly are considering everything else with the Owens package, which often included creating controversy and wearing out his welcome. There’s a reason one of the greatest receivers ever played for five teams.
Owens has been on radio row at the Super Bowl all week. He has expressed frustration with the process before, and told Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he planned to be back in Los Angeles for a couple of basketball games on Saturday, rather than waiting around to hear if he finally got in the Hall of Fame.
“I feel more disrespect than disappointed,” Owens told Hill this week. “And I’ve always said, too, that when you align your expectations with reality, you’ll never be disappointed. So I think in terms of my body of work and what I’ve done for the game, then that speaks loudly for itself.”
Moss seems like he should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, though it should give him pause that Owens has had to wait, as did other great pass catchers like Marvin Harrison and Shannon Sharpe. Moss was one of the most electrifying players of his generation, from a record-setting 17-touchdown rookie season on. Moss should be in right away, but then when you look at his resume vs. Owens (Owens had more yards per game, five All-Pro nods to four for Moss, Moss had 157 touchdowns in 2018 games while Owens had 156 touchdowns in 219 games), they’re eerily similar and it would be a bit weird if Moss got in on the first ballot while Owens waited at least twice, and perhaps longer.
Voters generally don’t include multiple players from the same position in the same class, whether that’s subconscious or not. Though, they did vote for running backs Terrell Davis and LaDainian Tomlinson last season. It’s not impossible that Moss and Owens could both get in. It’s also possible the voters resist putting them in the same class. Then how do you choose? Their numbers are startlingly similar. Owens is probably waiting because of his various off-field controversies, but Moss has some of those too.
There will be an uproar if Owens doesn’t get in again. There will be an even louder uproar if Moss doesn’t make it. It’s hard to believe neither would get in, but it has become tougher to predict what the voters will do. Ask Owens.
Here are the 15 Hall of Fame finalists (Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer and Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile are senior finalists, and longtime general manager Bobby Beathard is a contributor finalist):
- Tony Boselli, Tackle – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars
- Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers
- Brian Dawkins, Safety – 1996-2008 Philadelphia Eagles, 2009-2011 Denver Broncos
- Alan Faneca, Guard – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals
- Steve Hutchinson, Guard – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans
- Joe Jacoby, Tackle – 1981-1993 Washington Redskins
- Edgerrin James, Running Back – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks
- Ty Law, Cornerback – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos
- Ray Lewis, Linebacker – 1996-2012 Baltimore Ravens
- John Lynch, Free Safety – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos
- Kevin Mawae, Center – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans
- Randy Moss, Wide Receiver – 1998-2004, 2010 Minnesota Vikings, 2005-06 Oakland Raiders, 2007-2010 New England Patriots, 2010 Tennessee Titans, 2012 San Francisco 49ers
- Terrell Owens, Wide Receiver – 1996-2003 San Francisco 49ers, 2004-05 Philadelphia Eagles, 2006-08 Dallas Cowboys, 2009 Buffalo Bills, 2010 Cincinnati Bengals
- Brian Urlacher, Linebacker – 2000-2012 Chicago Bears
- Everson Walls, Cornerback – 1981-89 Dallas Cowboys, 1990-92 New York Giants, 1992-93 Cleveland Browns
– – – – – – –