Get your popcorn ready.
Receiver Terrell Owens, who played the first eight seasons of his 15-year career with the San Francisco 49ers, was named one of 15 modern-era finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration Thursday night.
Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo is also a finalist as a contributor, as are Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel as senior nominees, meaning the total of 18 finalists will be voted upon by the 46-person selection committee on Feb. 6 in San Francisco. A candidate must receive at least 80 percent approval from the committee to gain inclusion to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio; classes must be between four and eight new members.
Owens, in his first year of eligibility, was a polarizing figure wherever he played with his antics both on the field and off, from carrying a Sharpie with him to autograph a football after he scored a touchdown to celebrating a score as a visitor on the Dallas Cowboys' midfield star logo to doing sit-ups in his driveway as the media looked on.
But selectors are encouraged to look only at candidates’ on-field accomplishments. Owens’ stats jump off the sheet.
The six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro’s 1,078 career receptions rank sixth in league history, while his 15,934 receiving yards are second and his 153 touchdown catches are third.
“Terrell Owens is a beast on the football field,” Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, who played with Owens in San Francisco, said on the NFL Network show announcing the finalists. “I couldn’t believe the size of him, and the speed. And he was a workaholic.
“I never second-guessed his effort on the football field.”
Former Cowboys teammate Tony Romo called Owens “one of the hardest workers” he ever saw.
Hall of Famer Steve Young, who was Owens’ QB when he was a Niners rookie, agreed.
“He’s very serious about his game,” Young said. “Very humble about his mistakes: ‘How can I get better?’ The Terrell Owens that everyone thinks of is not the Terrell Owens that I know of.”
Owens, who also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles (2004-05), Dallas Cowboys (2006-08), Buffalo Bills (2009) and Cincinnati Bengals (2010), led the league in TD catches three times. He perhaps led it more often in feuds with his quarterbacks, be it Jeff Garcia with the 49ers or Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.
The presence of another prolific pass-catcher, Marvin Harrison, among this year's finalists could spell trouble for Owens' candidacy, given that Harrison has more receptions (1,102) than Owens, plus a Super Bowl ring, and has been waiting for two more years.