Terrell Owens is too flashy, too cocky, too disruptive, too loud, too much, his critics say.
Last year, the committee that selects who goes into the National Football League Hall of Fame spent more time deliberating about T.O. — whom they deemed a great player but a bad teammate — than anybody else up for consideration. T.O.’s response to his haters has always been to rub their noses in his success.
He did that in 2007, when, after a 10-yard touchdown catch from Tony Romo, he dumped a box of popcorn into his own face mask. “Getcha popcorn ready …” was seen as a message that all those talking about him should get cozy and snack while they watch him.
This year, T.O. was finally accepted into the Hall of Fame, but he announced last week that he will not attend the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, this August. The announcement came with thunderous criticism.
So T.O. called once again upon the power of snacks to rebuke his dissenters, inviting sports commentator Jason Whitlock and Dallas Cowboys legend Michael Irvin to share with him a box of doughnuts, poking fun at Whitlock’s weight and alluding to Irvin's cocaine use back in the day.
Whitlock, channeling the Hall of Fame committee in last year’s decision, called Owens the “worst teammate in the history of professional football ... and I think the voters made a mistake putting him in." The hot take appeared on the sports show Speak For Yourself, co-hosted by Whitlock and Colin Cowherd. It came to Owens' attention when the outlet tweeted a video of the segment and tagged Owens in the tweet.
Irvin, talking on the NFL Network's Total Access, said T.O.'s decision to not go to Canton was "something beyond the capabilities of understanding."
So Owens extended the offer, saying he had some powdered doughnuts for Irvin. Owens even called Irvin a "once 'coke-head.'"
The art of shade is all in the truth of what is being referenced. Whitlock is a big dude, but calling someone fat is in no way witty or worthy of a laugh. Coming from T.O., who is pretty ripped, it’s just snobbish and mean. So we reduce T.O.’s fat joke to immature, man-child pettiness.
But T.O. did throw some pretty well-aged shade at Irvin. It was national news in '96 when Irvin was busted in a hotel room with cocaine and other drugs in it.
Owens went a step further, calling Irvin and Whitlock “Uncle Tommers,” an extension of Uncle Tom, the insulting jab at black people perceived to be too subservient to white people. Why they deserve that comment is unknown to everybody except Owens.
T.O. has not shied away from calling out racism when he sees it. He said that if he were still playing professional football, he would be one of the players taking a knee during the national anthem, and he blamed systemic racism in the NFL as a reason why quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first took a knee during the national anthem, is still out of a job. Owens has been a target of overt racism.
T.O. has been on the warpath. Earlier this year, Owens said Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett should be fired.
“When you really look at it, it doesn’t make sense for Jason Garrett to continue to have his job,” he said.
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Former pro wide receiver Randy Moss, who is in the Hall of Fame, tweeted his support for T.O. over the weekend.
Deion Sanders, also in the Hall of Fame, tweeted at Owens, asking him for a one-on-one interview to explore in a more detailed way why T.O. made the decision he did.
@terrellowens let's sit down and talk about this so the world can know where u coming from. I believe I know where u coming from and I want them to understand u before the stones are thrown your way. This is a 1st and it will have a future affect on many. #ThinkaboutThat #Truth— Deion Sanders (@DeionSanders) June 7, 2018