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Terrell Owens explains why he held a separate ceremony in powerful Hall of Fame speech

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T.O. celebrated his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-Radio Row John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

In typical Terrell Owens fashion, he’s going against the norms that the NFL has established.

Owens was finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a couple years of being rejected by the voters. Owens is reversing their actions onto them by refusing to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio, and hosting his own ceremony at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. That happened on Saturday.

Owens gave a powerful speech that lasted nearly 40 minutes

The crowd at the school gave Owens a thunderous welcome:

He saved the best for last, ending the speech with a strong message for anyone who has felt like they didn’t belong:

Why did Terrell Owens hold his own ceremony?

Owens’ laid it out in his speech Saturday and it was the same reason he told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, who had a chance to catch up with Owens ahead of his personal ceremony. Owens gave a lengthy response about why he’s made the decision to do this.

“I understand why I made my decision. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. But again, obviously the criteria and the system put in place for the Hall of Fame in order for guys like myself to be inducted, there are guidelines that the writers, the sportswriters, are supposed to adhere to. It’s not, not being inducted the first or second ballot, but it’s about the process in which guys are nominated and ultimately inducted. There’s a flaw in that system. So this is not only about me, but it’s about the guys that went before me, that’s going to come after me. And I can make a stand for those guys so they won’t have to go through this situation.’’

Why was Owens snubbed before?

Despite being second all-time in receiving yards, third in touchdown receptions, and eighth in catches, Owens was snubbed twice by the Hall of Fame voters. Owens’ on-field behavior rubbed a lot of people the wrong way (and resulted in him playing for five different teams over his career), but his antics were ultimately harmless.

It was puzzling to see one of the most dominant offensive players to ever step on a football field struggle to get in the Hall of Fame, because everyone knew he was a slam dunk, first-ballot pick based on his play.

What’s the Hall of Fame’s reaction?

Hall of Fame executive director Joe Horrigan was pretty straightforward with his feelings on the matter.

“There’s no reason to bring him up as an individual,” said Horrigan. “He’s not here.”

Owens won’t be individually honored at the ceremony since he’s not there, but he was featured in the highlights during the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday and he is on the program for the weekend. Owens will be representing the Eagles on the official Hall of Fame program.