T.O. won’t attend Hall of Fame induction

(STATS) – Don’t bring the popcorn.

Terrell Owens said Thursday he will not attend his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.

Owens, who played collegiately on the FCS level at Chattanooga, is part of an eight-man Class of 2018.

He announced his decision in an official statement: “I am so grateful for all of the support my family, friends, and certainly my fans, have shown me throughout my entire career in the National Football League. When it was announced that I was going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the response received from my fans was overwhelming, and I am truly humbled. I am honored to be included among this group of fellow inducted individuals.

“While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton. I have already shared this information with the Hall. After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere. At a later date, I will announce where and when I will celebrate my induction.

“I would also like to thank the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys, the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals for the time I was granted with each organization. I am thankful for the relationships forged and the lessons learned while part of each team.

“I wish to congratulate all past, current and future inductees. It is quite an honor to be part of such elite company. This honor is something that I will cherish forever.”

Owens’ selection to the Hall of Fame occurred in his third year of eligibility, perhaps because he was outspoken during a controversy-filled 15-year career. After being denied the first two years, he complained publicly after not receiving the necessary 80 percent support from a 48-person selection committee.

“We are disappointed, but will respect Terrell’s decision not to participate in the Enshrinement,” Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker said. “While unprecedented, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the nearly 5,000 volunteers and the entire community are committed to celebrating the excellence of the Class of 2018 that will kick off the NFL’s 99th season.”

Owens, selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft, was a six-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All-Pro. He ranks second in NFL history with 15,934 receiving yards and third with 153 touchdown catches on 1,078 receptions.

At Chattanooga, he was a prolific athlete who participated in three sports. He became a starting receiver as a sophomore and caught 115 passes for 1,748 yards and 12 touchdowns over his final three seasons, playing in the run-heavy Southern Conference. He also played for a Mocs basketball team that advanced to the NCAA tournament and anchored the school’s 4×100 relay team at the NCAA track championships.

The 2018 Hall of Fame class also includes safety Brian Dawkins; linebackers Robert Brazile, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss; offensive guard Jerry Kramer; and general manager Bobby Beathard.