Maybe the voters will get it right this time around.
Former safety Brian Dawkins and wide receiver Terrell Owens were named finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2018 on Tuesday night. Both players were finalists a year ago. The Class of 2018 will be selected and announced on February 3, the eve of Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
"The numbers alone make a strong case for Dawkins as a Hall of Famer, but his impact goes far beyond that," said Ray Didinger, a former member of the Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors. "I would contend Dawkins changed the safety position in today's NFL."
Now an executive in football operations for the Eagles, Dawkins was eliminated in the cutdown from 10 modern-era finalists to five a year ago. Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Domowitch, the Hall of Fame voter who presented Dawkins' case last year, also explained how Dawkins' true value was more than just as a safety.
"That he redefined the position. That no safety, including the other one among the finalists, John Lynch, ever was asked to do, or could do, what Dawkins did in Jim Johnson's defense. That he is the only defensive player in history with more than 25 interceptions, sacks and, forced fumbles," Domowitch wrote in a column last February after the Class of 2017 was announced. "The fact that he advanced to the final 10 means a lot of other people in the room understood the special player Dawkins was."
The embodiment of what it means to play football in the City of Philadelphia, Dawkins was a physical and spiritual leader for 13 seasons with the Eagles. He was a Pro Bowl selection seven times, tied for second most in franchise history. Dawkins finished as the team's all-time leader in games played (183) - since surpassed by David Akers - and tied for first in interceptions (34) by the end of his tenure with the Eagles in 2008.
A second-round pick out of Clemson in 1996, Dawkins helped guide one of the most successful periods in franchise history. The team made the playoffs eight times, won five division titles, earned four trips to the NFC Championship Game, and reached the Super Bowl for only the second time thanks in large part to Dawkins.
Last year, Kenny Easley became just the eighth pure safety to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Easley was chosen by the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee, but the inclusion of another safety bodes well for Dawkins. The challenge is that players like linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, and wide receiver Randy Moss are now eligible for the Hall and John Lynch, another safety, was a finalist along with Dawkins last year potentially creating a logjam.
Owens, a former teammate of Dawkins, is in his third year as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unlike Dawkins, however, he did not make it to the top 10 in 2017.
He spent just two of his 15 NFL seasons in Philadelphia, but was an instrumental part of the team that won the NFC title in 2004. In just 21 regular-season games with the Eagles, Owens had 124 catches for 1,963 yards and 20 touchdowns. Owens' 14 receiving touchdowns in 2004 set a new franchise mark. He had seven 100-yard receiving games that season, also a team record, on his way to achieving Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. Seven weeks after suffering a broken leg late in the regular season, Owens played in Super Bowl XXXIX and caught nine passes for 122 yards.
Owens was one of the most dominant playmakers of his time. He is second all time in NFL history in receiving yards, third in receiving touchdowns, and eighth in catches. All. Freaking. Time.
However, he played on five different teams in his career largely due to his disruptive behavior. That could keep him out of the Hall.
"There are a lot of people in that room who are of the mind to never, ever vote for Owens," Domowitch wrote.
Both Dawkins and Owens deserve to be in the Hall. And it would be marvelous if Eagles fans are in Minneapolis to celebrate the moment.