His bust? That remained 600 miles away in Canton
And yes, the man known as T.O. later brought out a big bucket of popcorn.
Owens entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a celebration uniquely his own Saturday afternoon at his alma mater before approximately 3,000 fans who frequently cheered, chanted “T.O.” and gave him the occasional standing ovation. Owens also made clear why he chose to enter the Hall of Fame with a ceremony in Chattanooga instead of with Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and former Eagles teammate Brian Dawkins in Ohio.
“A lot of people say that I may regret not being in Canton 10, 15, 20 years from now,” Owens said. “But just like my choice to be here today, I choose not to live in regret. I will leave a legacy that will leave an imprint on this world forever.”
Owens used part of a speech lasting about 39 minutes to explain why he was in Chattanooga instead of Canton, addressing the “elephant in the room.”
“It’s not because of how many times it took for me to be voted to the hall
“These writers disregarded the system, the criteria and bylaws in which guys are inducted, and ultimately the true meaning of the Hall of Fame and what it represents. I wanted to take a stand so the next guy coming after me will not have to go through what I and others have gone through. Whether it’s three years or 45 years, you should get what you rightfully earned.”
The wide receiver who ranked second in NFL history with 15,934 yards receiving and third with 153 touchdown catches didn’t mention that Hall of Famers Dan Fouts and James Lofton also are on the selection committee. Owens later discussed his issue with the current selection process at a news conference that lasted 26 minutes, saying writers never played the game, with no “blood, sweat and tears” invested.
Only one person makes a speech in Canton to introduce an inductee. By holding his own ceremony, Owens heard short speeches from five coaches, including three former position coaches
A friend of Ray Lewis was at Friday night’s gold jacket ceremony and brought it to Chattanooga for T.O. The original plan had been to mail it on Saturday to him.
T.O. said he had a Plan B in case it didn’t arrive in time. He also wore a “C” for Chattanooga pin on each lapel.
Owens thanked everyone from his late grandmother and mother to coaches from his high school days in Alexander City, Alabama, through his time at Chattanooga and into the NFL. At times, he was grateful for help received along the way, cited a Bible verse from Deuteronomy, and even thanked people who “defamed” him behind his back and teammates who hated him.
“This is for you,” Owens said.
Near the end of his speech, Owens asked anyone who had ever felt isolated, misunderstood or bullied to stand up. Then Owens encouraged them not to be afraid to be themselves.
“We have more commonalities than differences. This entire speech you thought was about me, this was for you,” Owens said.
None of his former NFL teammates could be seen in the crowd. Johnny Taylor, the 17th pick overall in the 1997 NBA draft by Orlando
“He’s always going to do it his way and what’s beneficial to him and his family,” Taylor said. “Me personally, I’m excited that he is doing it here. It means so much to the city, it means so much to the university. It speaks volumes to the type of person that he is, even though other people may think other of him.”
Fans wore Owens’ No. 81 jersey from his stints in Dallas, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Renee Davis of Philadelphia canceled tickets she bought to see Owens inducted in Canton and arrived in Chattanooga on Friday to see the receiver she called the best ever give his speech. She wore Owens’ No. 80 from his college days, bought when he was an NFL rookie.
Missing the Hall of Fame’s other seven inductees and all the pageantry of Canton was no loss for Davis.
“Can’t compare to being here with my favorite,” Davis said. “Can’t compare.”Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. has been arrested on charges of rape and other sex crimes on the day he was to appear in court on an unrelated burglary charge.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports sheriff's deputies arrested Winslow on Thursday at his home in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas.
The 34-year-old Winslow was charged with two counts of rape, two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit rape and single counts of forcible sodomy, oral copulation and indecent exposure. He's free after posting $50,000 bail.
Defense attorney Brian Watkins declined to comment to the Union-Tribune.
Winslow was due to appear in court Thursday after being charged with burglary following an incident last month at a mobile home park. He now faces arraignment Friday.
The son of Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, the younger Winslow spent 10 seasons in the NFL from 2004-13 with Cleveland
Once NFL's highest-paid tight end, he was suspended in 2013 with the Jets for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. In November 2013, he was arrested after a woman told police she saw him masturbating in a parked car outside of a New Jersey department store. Winslow was arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana, and the charge was dropped after he completed court-ordered terms.
Drafted No. 6 overall by Cleveland, he broke his right leg in his rookie season, then sustained a serious right knee injury in a motorcycle accident that offseason.