He got passed over a second time, too.
However, as he recently learned, a powerful speech made by a late NFL reporter changed his life forever.
Terrell Owens finally got the nod from Pro Football Hall of Fame voters in 2018
No matter where he played, Terrell Owens routinely made NFL defensive backs look overmatched. In eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, he racked up 592 receptions for 8,572 yards, and 81 touchdowns.
Although he only spent two years with the Philadelphia Eagles, he famously battled back from a broken leg to catch nine passes for 122 yards in Super Bowl 39.
And while he couldn’t help deliver a title playing for Jerry Jones’ team, Owens surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.
Even though he clearly ranked as one of the most dominant receivers in NFL history, the outspoken six-time Pro Bowler still couldn’t secure a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he first became eligible.
But after getting passed over twice, the Alabama native finally received word that he met the threshold for acceptance into Canton.
And it took a brave effort from a highly-respected NFL reporter to make that happen.
Terez Paylor made a huge impact as a journalist before his sudden death
Terez Paylor dedicated his life to writing and talking about sports. Widely respected for his deep knowledge and professional approach to journalism, he became a go-to source for anything related to the Kansas City Chiefs. Paylor also covered other aspects of the NFL during his time with Yahoo Sports.
Recently, however, the world lost a talented and dedicated individual who made it his mission to stand up for what he believed in.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Paylor died unexpectedly in his home.
He was just 37 years old.
His sudden passing resulted in many heartfelt tributes from fellow sports media members, as well as many others who knew him.
“Terez’s genius had nothing to do with turning a phrase,” wrote Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger, per the Associated Press. “He knew football and the people who loved it.”
Paylor’s love and knowledge of the game put him in a position to make a permanent impact as one of the 48 voting members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And thanks to a story relayed by one of his peers, we learned just how big of a role Paylor played in making sure Terrell Owens received proper recognition for his accomplishments on the football field.
T.O. was brought to tears after learning about the late NFL reporter’s powerful speech that changed his life forever
In the aftermath of Terez Paylor’s unexpected death, Bob Glauber of Newsday shared a story that revealed how the late NFL reporter changed Terrell Owens’ life forever.
According to Glauber, an intense debate carried on inside a conference room at a Minneapolis hotel on Feb. 3, 2018. Once again, Owens’ Hall of Fame candidacy inspired strong opinions from voters.
Despite his prolific stats, the former NFL wideout’s “polarizing personality” seemingly remained an unbeatable roadblock to his chances of getting voted in.
What happened next serves as a testament to the power of the spoken word.
Paylor took the microphone and spoke for several minutes about what it was like to watch Owens dominate on the field during his childhood.
By the conclusion of his speech, the room was completely silent.
“To hear a young Black man talk about what drew him to the sport that he loved and what made an impression on him as a young man growing up was a perspective that I had personally never considered when it comes to that [Hall of Fame meeting] room,” NBC Sports Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco told Glauber.
He further added, “I think that opened people’s eyes to a new perspective and a way of defining what a Hall of Famer is.”
Ultimately, Paylor’s passionate speech helped sway enough voters to finally give Owens their stamp of approval.
And until recently, the former NFL star never knew what really happened on that fateful February day in 2018.
But when he learned about Terez Paylor’s life-changing words of support following his unexpected death, T.O. was moved to tears.
“I get glassy-eyed just thinking about it,” Owens told Newsday. “My condolences to his family. It’s so sad. I didn’t hear anything about Terez and his perspective and how they were deliberating on me. It’s so unfortunate that I’m learning of this after this man’s passing. Honestly, I wish I could have spoken to him to say thank you for what he did.”
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.