Posts Tagged ‘pro football hall of fame’

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Antonio Gates wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to see LaDainian Tomlinson officially become football royalty.

After several days of uncertainty about whether Gates would be at his former teammate’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday – uncertainty that started after a report suggested the Chargers wouldn’t let Gates and Philip Rivers miss training camp to attend – the veteran tight end ultimately got the green light.

But that’s not to say he was really seeking permission. As Gates told Marty Caswell of Mighty 1090 before the ceremony got underway, he was prepared to make the trip to Canton, Ohio even if the Chargers fined him for a brief training-camp absence.

“Absolutely,” Gates said. “I would’ve paid the fine twice to be here.”

Rivers didn’t join Gates for Saturday night’s induction ceremony, but the quarterback did pass along a congratulatory video message recorded from the end zone where Tomlinson broke the single-season touchdown record in 2006.

The star trio combined to lead a stellar offense in that season and each of the three that followed, posting top-five scoring finishes and capturing AFC West titles in four straight years.

LaDainian Tomlinson pleaded for racial unity and harmony during his Hall of Fame speech, a common theme of the evening amid a turbulent political climate.

The former Chargers running back recounted a story of his great-great-great grandfather coming to the United States on a slave ship from West Africa, and called for harmony in these polarizing times.

“The family legacy that began in such a cruel way has given birth to generations of successful, caring Tomlinsons,” he said Saturday. “I firmly believe that God chose me to help bring two races together under one last name: Tomlinson. I’m of mixed race, and I represent America. My story is America’s story. All our ancestors, unless we’re American Indian, came from another country, another culture. Football is a microcosm of America. All races, religions, and creeds living, playing, competing side by side.”

Tomlinson continued, invoking the message of change championed by former President Barack Obama.

“On America’s team, let’s not choose to be against one another. Let’s choose to be for one another. My great-great-great grandfather had no choice. We have one. I pray we dedicate ourselves to be the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind, leading the way for all nations to follow. One of the most eloquent orators of our time said it best in his farewell address. Paraphrasing and humbly building upon what President Obama said, ‘We all have to try harder, show up, dive in and stay at it.’ I am asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change, to hold fast to the faith and the idea whispered by slaves: ‘Yes, we can.'”

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LaDainian Tomlinson paid his respects to his former coach, Marty Schottenheimer, during Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Tomlinson, arguably the greatest player in Chargers history, lauded Schottenheimer as the greatest coach he had during his decorated career.

“I spent nine years with the San Diego Chargers. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer was the best coach I ever had, and we won five division titles,” Tomlinson said. “Marty, would you and your wife, Pat, please stand to be acknowledged?”

The crowd then broke out into a “MARTY!” chant to honor the 73-year-old. Schottenheimer, who is battling Alzheimer’s, was visibly moved by Tomlinson’s shout-out.

It should be noted that three of the division titles Tomlinson referenced were won under the guidance of head coach Norv Turner.

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Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is blocking veterans Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates from attending the Aug. 5 Hall of Fame induction ceremony for their former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson, sources told Alex Marvez of Sporting News.

Lynn is insisting that Rivers and Gates participate in the Chargers’ training camp session instead, adds Marvez, which will be their first at StubHub Center.

Gates is still considering attending the ceremony despite Lynn’s wishes, even if he’s fined, one source told Marvez.

Marvez notes that it’s common for teams to grant exceptions for active players to attend Hall of Fame ceremonies for former teammates, pointing to the Arizona Cardinals allowing Larry Fitzgerald to miss practice for Kurt Warner’s induction this weekend.

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The takes are getting hotter by the day.

As debate surrounding Terrell Owens’ Hall of Fame candidacy continues, the discussion has slowly begun to involve another of the most talented receivers in NFL history.

If voters can cite the “teammate” dynamic in keeping Owens out of Canton for a second straight year, surely they’d be forced to do the same when Randy Moss is first eligible next year, right?

Recently asked for his opinion on the two former superstars, Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian gave an answer that may surprise you.

“I take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t.

“That’s number one. Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.”

Polian went on to concede that although the two could be held out initially, it’s likely only a matter of time before they get the nod. Not without characterizing such a reality as unfortunate, though.

“I think they will, unfortunately in my view, because whether you like it or not. these ‘electoral campaigns’ have a way of swinging people,” Polian said. “In my view, and I said this publicly last year, I think the Hall of Fames are for people who make their teams better, not who detract from them.

“Now, T.O. was a bigger detractor over his career than Moss, but you certainly wouldn’t call (Moss’ attitude) any harbinger or example of what you want in a football player other than when he decided to play. ‘I play when I play.’ I don’t buy it.”

Few will deny that Owens and Moss were unique personalities, and perhaps far more difficult to deal with than teams would prefer. But the argument for their place in football history, founded upon clear talent and the historic production to match, seems fairly rock solid.

Owens ranks eighth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934), and third in touchdowns. Moss ranks 15th in catches (982), third in yards (15,292), and second in touchdowns (156).

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Many people were shocked when Terrell Owens was left off the list of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees for a second consecutive year.

The case against the six-time Pro Bowl receiver centers around the antics that earned him a reputation as a locker-room problem.

Hall of Fame wideout James Lofton, who happens to have a spot on the voting committee, doesn’t buy into that narrative.

Lofton explained his stance on Owens’ candidacy in an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” this week, explaining that everything he witnessed on the field was undoubtedly worthy of football’s highest individual honor.

“When Terrell Owens came up, his presenter came up,” Lofton said, according to CSN Bay Area. “And I may have been the second person to chime in. I looked at what happened on that 100 by 53 1/3-yard field. And what I saw was pretty special. What I saw was Hall of Fame worthy. The thing I’m concerned about with Terrell Owens is that, is he being treated like these who used steroids in baseball. And I don’t think that should be the case at all.”

Lofton, a member of the 2003 Hall of Fame class, went so far as to compare Owens’ numbers to that of his own stellar career. While the eras were certainly different, there’s no comparison in terms of production.

“I had 75 touchdowns during the course of my career,” Lofton said. “The guy that we didn’t let in had 153. I can look at all of T.O.’s other numbers, but I had a hard time with that. Here’s a guy that I looked at, and what he did on the football field, I just thought was phenomenal. And from a person who did the same thing and really appreciates the position, I’m at a loss for words.”

It’s likely only a matter of time before Owens gets the call he’s been waiting for. Missing out in his first two years of eligibility hardly suggests he isn’t considered a Hall of Fame player, but he arguably accomplished enough that he shouldn’t have to wait.

The former third-round pick was one of the league’s most dominant receivers for the majority of his time with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys. He maintained an impressive level of play well into his late 30s, making an impact with the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals over the final two seasons of his 15-year career.

Owens ranks second only to Jerry Rice with 15,934 career receiving yards, third behind only Rice and Randy Moss with 153 touchdown catches, and eighth among all-time leaders in receptions.

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While the Hall of Fame voters may have kept Terrell Owens from joining the Canton ranks due to his character issues, at least one of the receiver’s former quarterbacks disagrees with their decision and their reasoning.
 

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who is a Hall of Famer himself, was Owens’ teammate for the first four seasons of his career and believes he deserves a gold jacket to call his own.

“Yeah,” Young told KNBR radio, when asked if Owens should be in the Hall of Fame. “I played with him, I felt like I knew him. I knew the abilities he had. There’s no question he’s struggled with a lot of things, but in the end, yes.”

While Owens developed a loud-mouthed, team-troubling reputation by the end of his career, Young says the youthful receiver showed impressive character and strong work ethic in his early days.

“In ’97-’98 he would say, ‘Yes sir.’ I said, ‘Terrell, call me Steve … I know I’m old, c’mon,'” said Young. “But he was very respectful.

“He worked as hard as Jerry Rice – I’ve never said that about anyone else by the way. He was willing to stand next to Jerry and work, and I’ve never seen that before. So to me, what I saw were his physical abilities were incredible. The work ethic, incredible, and a very respectful guy.”

Young admitted that Owens wasn’t ready to be the leader the 49ers were looking for when he, Rice, and a group of Super Bowl-experienced veterans left the team in 1999.

“The team we had in ’98, if Terrell had’ve (spiked the ball on the Dallas) star, we wouldn’t have let him come back to our sideline,” said Young. “We would’ve said ‘no that doesn’t work.’ To me it opened up an avenue where he became a de facto leader and I don’t think he was ready for those shoes.”

Taking the good with the bad, Young still believes Owens made enough of an impact on the game to deserve a place in football immortality.


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