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Terrell Owens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame whether you like it or not

Getcha popcorn ready.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Terrell Owens is one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, at a position that might just have the most intense competition of any in league history. Owens absolutely deserves to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even despite the fact he wasn't awarded induction this year.

Getting into the Hall of Fame as a receiver is growing more difficult every year. Guys like Julio Jones and A.J. Green look like they're at just the beginning of Hall of Fame careers, while guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are close to retirement and were among the best in the league for most of their careers. Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, two of the best possession receivers ever, are both eligible for the Hall of Fame but didn't even make the cut to finalist this year.

This is Owens' first year of eligibility, and he's better than all of those players.

Why he's better

A bold statement, sure, but Owens' stat sheet speaks for itself. Only Jerry Rice -- the pinnacle of the position who cannot be touched -- has more receiving yards than Owens' 15,934. He ranks sixth in receptions with 1,078, third in touchdown receptions with 153 and fifth in touchdowns scored with 156.

Owens made it to six Pro Bowls, was named a first-team All-Pro five times and played in a Super Bowl in 2004. Owens, for all the talk of him being a "bad teammate," caught nine passes for 122 yards in the game. He did every thing he could to abuse a New England Patriots pass defense that had no answers for him.

Donovan McNabb threw three touchdowns, and while Owens didn't account for any of those, he was clearly the best player on the football field for much of that game. It was disappointing for him and every Eagles fan when that close game ended in favor of the Patriots. But it should have done very little to diminish his legacy.

Not everyone loved him

Let's talk about his legacy, though. If you were watching football when Owens was playing, you know he was famous for a lot of things that weren't well looked upon by many people: fans of other teams, fans of his teams, his coaches, his teammates and most of all, the opposing players.

He celebrated a lot, and while you'll find plenty of ignorant idiots getting angry at Cam Newton for smiling and dancing, Owens drew the ire of everyone as he mastered the art of the touchdown celebration. Many high horse pundits claimed Owens was a disgrace to the game for the way he celebrated and taunted, and many suggested that he was sullying the good name of the NFL.

But Owens was not the first person to celebrate like that, and given today's NFL, he was certainly not the last.

The elephant in the room is his history with his teammates. For a man of Owens' talent, he shouldn't have bounced around as much as he did. He spent eight years with the San Francisco 49ers before joining the Eagles. He helped them to the Super Bowl, but things collapsed in 2005 as he clashed with McNabb and other teammates, and the team was happy to get rid of him.

He joined the Dallas Cowboys for three years where he was a constant distraction, and as he declined in play near the end, his antics were tolerated less and less. He spent a year with the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, and if you asked him today, he'd tell you all five teams on the list would be better off today if they signed him right this second.

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But none of that should really matter when it comes to Owens making the Hall of Fame. If it's based on his credentials on the football field, then he should be a shoo-in. His former coaches have said as much, with both Steve Mariucci and Andy Reid saying Owens should get in based on his merits. Reid was his coach in Philadelphia, where Owens' problems with his teammates reached its peak. That should say a whole lot.