You can count Thurman Thomas among those upset with Terrell Owens' decision to skip the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.
"I'm a little ticked off that he's not coming," the Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills running back said Saturday morning at the Buffalo-based Professional Football Researchers Association Convention in the Buffalo History Museum auditorium. "But it's his choice ... I think it was a bad PR move on his part, but I do get it."
Owens, who spent one season with the Bills in 2009, announced last month that he will be giving his Hall of Fame speech from his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, instead of taking part in the formal ceremony in Canton, Ohio. The five-time All-Pro selection was passed over twice by voters before his inclusion in the 2018 class.
"Every guy thinks they should have been a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer," Thomas told about 40 onlookers. "I remember (former NFL defensive end) Deacon Jones telling me after I didn't get in the first time ... He said, 'Whether you're going to get in the first time, the second time, the third time, it's when you get in that you should enjoy it.'
"You're in a fraternity of the greatest of the greatest of football players. There's been over 25,000 players. coaches, administrative people that have played, coached or somehow been involved with the game. There's only 318 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and only like 165 are living. That number is staggering."
While he's frustrated with Owens' decision, Thomas said he believes T.O. should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
"I don't care about, 'Well, he was bad with the team,'" Thomas said. "What he did on the football field, you talk about wide receivers, it's Jerry Rice and then it's T.O. and then it's Randy Moss. And Randy Moss went first ballot."
The Pro Football Hall of Fame's executive director, Joe Horrigan, announced earlier this week that Owens will not be introduced at the enshrinement ceremony on Aug. 4. The rest of the 2018 class, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Bobby Beathard and Robert Brazile, will be honored.
Owens will be the ninth former Bills player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Thomas, Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly, O.J. Simpson, James Lofton, Andre Reed, Joe DeLamielleure and Billy Shaw.