Polian, the former Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts general manager who was part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2015, said on Monday that if it were up to him, neither Terrell Owens nor Randy Moss would be enshrined in the Hall.
To which we say: are you crazy, Bill Polian?!?
Polian spoke with Clark Judge on Talk of Fame Network, and when asked which one of the two receivers he’d vote for in 2018, Polian said he wouldn’t pick either player.
“First of all, here’s my position: [I want players who] contribute both individually and to the team,” Polian told Judge. “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.”
Judge notes that in 2001 Moss said, “I play when I want to play” when some observers said he looked disinterested at times.
The debate over whether Owens, who was among the 15 finalists for the class of 2017 in his second year of eligibility but didn’t make the cut to the top 10, belongs in the Hall has continued even a few weeks after this year’s class was chosen in Houston during Super Bowl weekend.
Next year is Moss’ first year of eligibility.
Owens contended in an interview with Buffalo News reporter Tim Graham earlier this month that Hall voters are arbitrarily changing the by-laws as a means of keeping him out; the 48 Hall voters are told they are to consider only what a player does on the field when deciding whether a player is worthy of enshrinement. USA Today NFL columnist Jarrett Bell, an at-large voter who voted for Owens, told Shutdown Corner that some voters reasoned that a spat between Owens and his quarterback could impact what happens on the field.
But Owens has a point. Why is he (and apparently Moss, at least in Polian’s book) being held to a standard others aren’t? And where’s the line? Michael Irvin stabbed one of his own teammates in the neck with a pair of scissors during training camp in 1998. Warren Sapp threatened an opposing coach after that coach, Mike Sherman, was critical of a dirty hit he put on one of his players, among other transgressions. Irvin and Sapp are both in the Hall.
If possessing flawless character is part of the deal, Polian needs to look no further than himself. During a 2005 game when the Colts were playing the New England Patriots, myself and another reporter were sitting in front of Polian in the Gillette Stadium press box when he wished Indianapolis players would “break his leg” when aging Patriots backup quarterback Doug Flutie was on the field late in the Colts’ win. Polian also, as a member of the league’s Competition Committee, pushed through a new emphasis on illegal contact after watching Patriots’ defensive backs get physical with Colts’ receivers.
Those aren’t huge things. But while Moss’ effort was questioned at times, you’d be hard-pressed to find one of his Patriots teammates who isn’t a fan of him; he was willing to work with receivers and corners alike to help them improve. Bill Belichick has called him one of the smartest players he’s ever coached.
Regardless, Old Man Polian doesn’t want Owens or Moss occupying the same bronzed lawn (metaphorically speaking) that he does.
“I think they will, unfortunately in my view,” said Polian, “because whether you like it or not. these ‘electoral campaigns’ have a way of swinging people. 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.”
Owens and Moss could be difficult, for different reasons. But few in recent NFL memory have relished being a bad guy as much as Polian, so he’s an interesting one to be throwing stones. You can’t write the history of the NFL in the 2000s without Moss or Owens; they belong in the Hall.