Talking to WFAN’s Mike Francesa, the six-time Pro Bowler said his former teammates know the truth about him.
“Guys … that have been in that locker room, been in intimate spaces with me know who I am as a person,” Owens said. “So that’s what irks me. It’s not the fact that I didn’t get in (to the Hall of Fame). But when you start questioning my character, bro, I know how I was raised.
“From Day 1 when I stepped into the National Football League, trust me, I know how to be respectful. I’m not insubordinate. Am I a guy that basically had disagreements and arguments with coaches or players or what have you? What players haven’t?”
For the second year in a row, Owens was not voted into the Hall of Fame, despite ranking second all-time in receiving yards and third in receiving touchdowns. Some Hall voters have argued that the distractions Owens created as a player were detrimental to his teams, with whom he often found himself on thin ice.
Owens said there are players in the Hall of Fame with more substantial character issues, singling out former Eagles and Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, who was enshrined in Canton in 2013.
“Even you think about guys that have gone and really tried to attack my character and called me a flawed candidate, a guy like Cris Carter — trust me, I’m better than Cris Carter,” T.O. said. “I’ll tell him that. He knows that I’m not a fan of him.
“He wants me to wait because he had to wait. I did more with less. I was better than Cris Carter. So he shouldn’t mention anything about anybody, especially me, about being a flawed candidate when here’s a guy who got released, flunked three drug tests from Philly — cocaine and alcohol addiction — and then there was somewhere down the road he’s telling guys to ask somebody to be a fall guy. What kind of character is that?”
Francesa read comments from Andy Reid, Bill Parcells and Steve Mariucci, all of whom coached Owens and have said they believe he belongs in the Hall. While Owens said Reid was the best coach he played for, he took exception with remarks from Parcells that he wasn’t always reliable on the field and accused Mariucci of bad-mouthing him behind his back.
“Would it be a nice thing (to be inducted into the Hall of Fame)? Yes,” Owens said. “But I feel at this point, it’s been purely based on personal feelings, emotions that are being involved. … At this point, the Hall of Fame doesn’t mean anything to me.
“I can get a gold jacket made, which I have already done, that means much more to me than something that they can give me because, again, the system is flawed.”
Owens played 15 seasons in the NFL for the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills and Bengals. He caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. He was a first-team All-Pro five times.