Terrell Owens has been characterized as a certain type of player. He has been called a baby, a prima donna, a team-obliterator and selfish his entire career. Those words, whether true or not, rang out about Owens for his entire NFL tenure..
So naturally going into his Hall of Fame speech at the University of Chattanooga, there were many that expected Terrell Owens to be all about Terrell Owens during the time when the spotlight was all his. They expected him to talk about his touchdowns, his celebrations and his many moments of defying what people were used to seeing from a guy his size.
Well, those that expected him to talk about himself were thoroughly surprised by what they got to see on Saturday afternoon.
As Owens stepped up the microphone, there were tons of fans yelling his name. “TO! TO! TO!” rang out across the entire room as fans showed their admiration for him.
Owens soaked it all in and was emotional as the love from the fans broke him down just a little bit. When he stepped up to the mic, he began to go into all the different parts of his career and life. He spoke on his mother, his grandmother, his kids, his siblings, the fans, the teams he played for and the many different coaches, people and father figures that affected his life.
Instead of accepting the Hall of Fame induction for himself, Terrell Owens said the induction was for all of them. After he mentioned each and every person that affected his life, he spoke on how they touched him and helped mold him into the man that he became.
After he spoke on each person or group of people, he then followed up with “This is for you.” That theme rang out for the entire speech as instead of him giving the love to himself, he gave it back to those that helped him throughout his journey in life.
To many, this speech was one that was unexpected. They were used to the person that was consumed with himself and what he did on the field.
If you listen to those that were around his entire time, you would think otherwise. The media has a way of molding a narrative they can see. After all, that narrative is in play for the reason it took Owens three tries to get in the Hall of Fame.
Those that know him know he is nowhere near the “diva” he is portrayed as. His former wide receivers coach in Dallas, Ray Sherman, summed it up perfectly: “He’s hardworking, loving, passionate, thoughtful and a leader. That’s the Terrell Owens I know.” From his coaches in college basketball and football to his first receivers coach in the NFL, praise rang out about his work ethic and passion for what he did.
Perception is an interesting thing. It seems the view of Owens created by misconceptions and misunderstandings created a player that was viewed as a selfish guy you could not win with. The reality is he was a passionate player who would do what it took to win.
He believed in his ability, but he also believed in doing what he could to put his teams in position to win. The biggest thing that came out of his speech today was not that it wasn’t in Canton but that he was not the guy everyone perceived him to be.
That perception many had of him could have actually been built on the fact that some did not understand him nor cared to try to understand who he was.