2024 Draft: A next-gen affair

As we look forward to watching the 257 draftees selected last week in the 2024 NFL Draft, we also gaze in the rear-view mirror at those relatives who preceded them and established the family name long ago.

Fathers, uncles, and brothers with names everyone should know, such as Rice, Harrison, McCaffrey, Alt. Counting a couple of familiar names among early free agent signings — Gore and Owens — I recognized at least a dozen Next-Gen rookies, including six in the first 100 selections, whose ancestors already established that name in the NFL.

I covered all of those from the previous generation to some degree, some closer than others, such as Rice, Owens, and Gore. I didn’t have Peter King's travel expense account, or I would have become closer to more (enjoy that retirement, Peter). The first two, Rice and Owens, are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the third, Frank Gore, will join them after he becomes eligible in 2026.

Others' names are not as well remembered by many fans, such as former Oakland Raiders running back Arthur Whittington, the uncle of wide receiver Jordan Whittington, who was selected No. 213 overall by the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.

I knew Arthur as a rambunctious rookie with the Oakland Raiders in 1978 and heard from him several months ago talking up his nephew Jordan. Arthur liked to talk. Sadly, Arthur succumbed to prostate cancer and died on April 22, five days before Jordan was drafted.

“We were extremely close,” Jordan said of his uncle. “He was like my best friend. He played in the NFL. He was a hero in our family. He walked the path that I’m walking, you know?”

Arthur spent his final days at a hospice in Houston. Jordan visited him a few weeks ago, and they went out to eat. They talked about the draft and what to expect. They stayed in touch constantly through text messages, with Arthur advising and encouraging his nephew.

During the Indianapolis Combine, there was this text from Arthur: “Work hard, be smart, just be Jordan … This is the time of your life where you should be feeling blessed and thankful .”

“Most of the advice was mainly just telling me to be me and not try to be different,” said Jordan. “He used to preach that to me all the time. I miss him already.”

In homage to Arthur, we share the histories of those fathers, uncles, and brothers, some of whom I knew well. This allows us to remember and share with you the story of one of Arthur’s greatest days.

I will first tell the stories of Jordan and Arthur and then drill into details on the rest—both the new rookie and the relative who preceded him—in the order in which new/old names were drafted last week.


No. 213: WR Jordan Whittington, 6-1, 205, Texas

Jordan Whittington was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams at No. 213 overall (Rd. 6).  Coming out of Cuero (TX) High, Whittington was a consensus five-star prep prospect and one of the most highly touted recruits in his class. According to the 247Sports Composite, he arrived at Texas as the No. 2 athlete in the 2021 recruiting class.

It wasn’t clear whether he would be a receiver or a running back. He muddied the waters about a month before enrolling early with the Longhorns. Whittington gathered 377 total yards (334 rushing), six total touchdowns (five rushing), and 11 tackles to lead his Cuero Gobblers to the Texas 4A Division 2 state championship over Pleasant Grove at AT&T Stadium in December of 2019. His 334 rushing yards in that game broke the previous Texas 4A state title game record held by NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and the all-time Texas state title game record held by former Longhorn Johnathan Gray.

Still, Whittington found his role as a slot receiver for the Longhorns. He overcame injuries in each of his first three years to become productive in his final two seasons. As a redshirt junior, Whittington started 12 games and caught 50 passes for 652 yards and one touchdown. In his fifth and final season (2023), Whittington played all 14 games, including eight starts. He recorded 42 catches for 505 yards and one touchdown. Of his 45 total touches, nine went for 20-plus yards. With the new kickoff return rule, he may be an asset as a returner with the Rams.

“I’m getting ready, going over the playbook and install stuff,” Jordan said Tuesday (April 30). “I’m excited, man. I’m ready to go.”

RB Arthur Whittington, 5-11, 185, SMU

Arthur Whittington, Jordan’s uncle and a running back on the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl XV team, died five days before his nephew was drafted. Both were stars at Cuero (TX) High School, where their families still reside. Arthur was 68.  A seventh-round pick (No. 176 overall) out of SMU in 1978, Arthur played four seasons for the Silver and Black as a running back and kick returner. He saw action in 56 games with 20 starts for Oakland and was a member of the Super Bowl XV Championship team before finishing his NFL career with Buffalo. Always upbeat and chatty, Whittington remained a popular personality in Raider Nation.

Arthur set the Raiders rookie record for rushing yards with 661 in 1978, later broken by Marcus Allen. After his playing career, Whittington served as a scout and assistant coach before becoming a player agent. Whittington had five children. We are told that daughters Amber and Ashton are both YouTube personalities.

I knew Arthur well and have a story to tell: How he gained a nickname in one of his first games. On Sept. 17, 1978, when the Raiders played at Green Bay, Arthur packed only two right shoes. Equipment manager Dick Romanski knew that wide receiver Cliff Branch wore the same size and brought an extra pair, a veteran move. Whittington, who barely made the final cut as a rookie a couple of weeks earlier, rushed nine times for 90 yards and two TDs in that game at historic Lambeau Field and the Raiders won 28-3. Arthur won the nickname Artie (Right Shoes) Whittingham. Here’s a clipping from after that game:

Aurthur (Right Shoes) Whittington

                                 RIP Arthur!

Now, the rest of the Next-Gen connections from the top down

No. 4: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., 6-3 ¼, 209, Ohio State

This was the first non-quarterback selected in the 2024 Draft, No. 4 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. Won the Biletnikoff Award in 2022. In three years at Ohio State, he caught 155 passes for 2,613 yards and 31 touchdowns.

A two-year starter for the Buckeyes, Harrison lined up primarily on the boundary in 2022 before seeing more slot and field reps in 2023 in head coach Ryan Day’s multiple-spread offense. At a program known for producing high-level receiver talent, he became the first pass-catcher in school history with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons and set the school record for the most 100-yard receiving games (15). He earned a trip to New York City in his final season as a Heisman finalist.

WR Marvin Harrison, 6-0, 185, Syracuse.

Father of Marvin Harrison Jr.  Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Harrison was the 19th overall choice by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1996 NFL Draft. Harrison quickly became the number one weapon for the first overall pick in 1998, Peyton Manning. Over the next 13 seasons, Harrison caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl eight times and first or second-team All-Pro eight times.


No. 5: OL Joe Alt, 6-9, 321, Notre Dame

Drafted No. 4 overall by Los Angeles Chargers, where head coach Jim Harbaugh, straight from winning the national championship at Michigan, is rebuilding his new Chargers team much as he did the San Francisco 49ers—starting with a big offensive line. Alt, the youngest of five siblings, grew up in an athletic family. He primarily played quarterback throughout youth football and middle school before attending Totino-Grace High School, a private Catholic school where his father, John, was a line coach.

John knew Joe would eventually move to the offensive line. Still, John ensured Joe was experienced at several other positions and developed his athleticism before the inevitable move to a three-point stance. At 230 pounds, Joe moved to defensive end and tight end as a junior and finished with 17 receptions for 143 yards, although he was mainly used as a blocker and sixth offensive lineman. As a senior, he was up to 260 pounds and was again used as a blocking tight end while also seeing occasional snaps at left tackle. 

A three-year starter at Notre Dame, Alt was a mainstay at left tackle in offensive coordinator Gerad Parker’s balanced scheme. Alt should be a plug-and-play left tackle as a rookie but will have to work his ass off to reach the level some expect, which, based on his size and technique, would be something like a Tony Boselli. If he doesn't reach his apparent potential, Alt might be more like Nate Solder or Eric Fisher, which still qualifies him as a top-ten prospect in this draft.

OT John Alt, 6-8, 298, Iowa

Father of Joe Alt, John was drafted No. 21 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs and played until 1996, earning Pro Bowl honors twice and second-team All-Pro in 1990. He was selected to the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2002. His son Mark was a high school quarterback on the 2009 Minnesota state championship team, throwing 26 touchdowns and running for six. His father advised him to follow hockey, and Mike was selected 53rd overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes and played for several NHL teams.


No. 49: DL Kris Jenkins Jr., 6-3, 299, Michigan

Drafted No. 49 overall (Round 2) by the Cincinnati Bengals. A two-year starter at Michigan, Jenkins lined up primarily over the B-gap in defensive coordinator Jesse Minter’s front, also sliding outside to more of a 5-technique role sometimes. With only eight of his 112 career tackles coming in the backfield, his stat sheet in college is underwhelming, but his impact on tape and in the locker room made him an All-American and team captain for the 2023 national champions. The son of a 360-pound NFL Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Jenkins is built differently than his father, but he competes with similar energy and awareness and controls blocks with his hands. (His nickname is “The Mutant.”) His uncle, Cullen Jenkins, was an NFL defensive tackle with three teams for 13 years (2004–2016). Kris Jr. is forceful through gaps as a pass rusher, but his pad level, pass-rush plan, and transitions of movement need further development.

DT Kris Jenkins, 6-4, 360, Maryland

Father of Kris Jenkins Jr., the elder Jenkins was selected No. 44 overall (Round 2) by the Carolina Panthers in 2001, the year Jr. was born (Oct. 10).  On February 29, 2008, the Panthers traded Jenkins to the New York Jets for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2008 NFL draft. For much of his first season with the Jets, Jenkins was dominant and garnered heavy consideration for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award. On Sunday, October 18, 2009, Jenkins left the game against the Buffalo Bills with a left knee injury. The next day, it was reported that he had a torn ACL and would be out for the rest of the season. During the home opener against the Baltimore Ravens on September 13, 2010, Jenkins was injured as he twisted his leg, making a tackle. A few days later, an MRI revealed that Jenkins had again torn his ACL and was out for the rest of the 2010 season. Jenkins announced his retirement from football on July 20, 2011.


No. 76: DL Jonah Elliss, 6-2, 248, Utah

Drafted 76 overall (Round 3) by the Denver Broncos, Jonah is one of a dozen siblings (seven adopted). His father, Luther, played in the NFL and coached with Idaho and now Utah. Two brothers also played in the NFL. Jonah spent his early years in Michigan before the family followed his father to Denver and then Moscow, Idaho. Jonah attended Moscow Senior High School, where he was a three-year letterman and played linebacker, running back/wide receiver/tight end. In 2020, Ellis was conference Player of the Year with 57 tackles, six sacks, and one interception. He also lettered in track at Moscow and produced personal bests of 11.41 seconds in the 100 meters, 24.55 in the 200, and 57.73 in the 400, and he placed fifth at the 2019 state championships in the shot put (49 feet, 2.5 inches).

Jonah was the No. 11 recruit in head coach Kyle Whittingham’s 2021 class and wore the same No. 83 jersey his father did with the Utes (1991-94). A two-year starter at Utah, Elliss played right defensive end (two- and three-point stances) in defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley’s hybrid 4-2-5 scheme. An off-ball linebacker in high school, he transitioned to a pass-rushing role for the Utes and put together an All-American junior season, finishing as one of only two Power 5 players with 12-plus sacks in 2023 (despite missing the final three games with a torn labrum). Elliss is a long, high-effort pass rusher who displays quick and instinctive initial movements as a two-way rusher who can fit, rework, and leverage his physical hands.

DL Luther Elliss, 6-5, 318, Utah

Father of Jonah Ellis, Luther was drafted No. 20 (first round) by the Detroit Lions out of Utah in 1995. His nickname in Detroit was "Pass Rushing Luther," and he earned it with 324 tackles and 27.0 quarterback sacks with the Lions. He played his final season with the Denver Broncos in 2004. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1999 and 2000. Luther, who is of Polynesian descent, and wife Rebecca have 12 children, seven of whom are adopted. Two sons, Christian and Kaden, played college and NFL football, and now Jonah will also be a pro. In 2019, Kaden Elliss was drafted by the New Orleans Saints. In the 2021 NFL Draft, son Christian Elliss went undrafted but was later signed as a UDFA by the Minnesota Vikings. Christian was also Sports Illustrated's secret "Prospect X" for the 2021 draft.


No. 252: DL Jaylen Harrell, 6-4, 247, Michigan

Jaylen Harrell was drafted No. 252 (Round 7) by the Tennessee Titans and immediately mentioned his father, who was undrafted but had a lengthy career. “My pops, he was undrafted, you feel me?” Harrell said. “So, he had that killer mindset: ‘They have to take it from me.’ Just getting that mindset instilled in me at such a young age, just being able to get drafted.”

As a four-year starter at Berkeley Prep (Tampa, FL), Jaylen attracted a lot of college attention, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and Penn State. However, he connected with the Michigan staff and committed a few weeks before signing day in December 2019. He was the No. 18 recruit in Jim Harbaugh’s 2020 class.

A two-year starter at Michigan, Harrell lined up on the edge in defensive coordinator Jesse Minter’s 4-2-5 scheme and was part of a heavy rotation—he averaged 31.6 defensive snaps per game in 2023. After playing more off-ball while Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo were in Ann Arbor, he moved to edge rusher the last two seasons and led the nation’s top-ranked defense in pressures (31), tackles for loss (10), and sacks (7.5). Although a straight-line athlete, Harrell rushes with speed and determination and gives blockers everything he has.

LB James Harrell, 6-1, 224, Florida

Father of Jaylen Harrell, James is a longtime high school coach in the Tampa area. He was a walk-on linebacker at Florida and earned a scholarship in 1977. Despite going undrafted, James had a lengthy pro career, playing for the Detroit Lions (1979–83), the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits (1984–85), the Lions again (1985–86) and the Kansas City Chiefs (1987). Harrell appeared in 89 games during his eight NFL seasons and started 32. When the NFL was done with James, he wasn’t done with football. He has coached high school and college football for 20 years.


NFL Draft: Luke McCaffrey Selected By Washington Commanders With 100th Pick

Luke McCaffrey

No. 100: WR Luke McCaffrey, 6-2, 198, Rice

Drafted No. 100 overall by the Washington Commanders. Luke is the son of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, brother of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian and wide receiver Max, who was with Jacksonville and the 49ers (2017, 2018). After bouncing around colleges attempting to be a quarterback, Luke turned to his father's receiver position for his final two years at Rice and led the Owls in receptions (58) and all-purpose yards (903 yards) in 2022. In 2023, he improved statistically, making 71 catches for 992 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-AAC, leading the conference in receiving TDs. 

Commanders general manager Adam Peters was the assistant GM for the 49ers from 2021–2023, and became close to Christian McCaffrey. When it came to Luke, Peters actually received intel and a bit of persuasion from Christian to draft the younger McCaffrey. "I did get a little insight from his brother," Peters said via the team's website. "I got a little encouragement from his brother. I didn't need it; I can tell you that right now."

WR Ed McCaffrey, 6-5, 215, Stanford

Father of Luke McCaffrey, the 49ers’ Christian, and former NFL wide receiver Max, Ed finished fifth in career receptions at Stanford (146) and was drafted No. 83 overall in 1991 by the New York Giants. During his 13-year career, Ed won three Super Bowl rings, Super Bowl XXIX with the San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII with the Denver Broncos. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1998. He retired on February 29, 2004, with 565 career receptions for 7,422 yards and 55 touchdowns.


No. 114: OL Javon Foster, 6-5, 313, Missouri

Drafted No. 114 overall (Round 4), Javon was a three-year starter at Missouri, entrenched at left tackle in offensive coordinator Kirby Moore’s RPO, zone-based run scheme. After not playing football or lifting weights until he was 16, Foster made noticeable improvements in Columbia, MO and earned first-team All-SEC as a super senior in 2023. A long-limbed, high-cut blocker, Foster is at his best when he properly uses his length and strength to redirect and widen defenders in the run game or stymie rushers off the edge. Javon will be a 24-year-old rookie.

DL Jerome Foster, 6-2, 268, Ohio State

Father of Javon Foster, Jerome was selected No. 139 (Round 5) in 1983. He played four seasons with three teams — the Houston Oilers, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets.


No. 225: WR Brenden Rice, 6-2, 208, USC

On the day he was drafted 225 overall (Round 7) by the Los Angeles Chargers, Brenden Rice was attending the funeral of his best friend, Keith Miller III, in Dallas where Brenden was a pallbearer, and offered a eulogy.

Brenden is famously the youngest son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. Brenden never lived with his father (who was married to his former wife, Jacqueline, when Brenden was born). However, their relationship has grown in recent years, and Jerry has been highly visible on the field for USC games for the last two seasons.

After playing running back throughout youth levels, he moved to wide receiver full-time at  Hamilton High School (Arizona), catching passes from future Oregon and Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough. Rice earned All-State honors as a junior with 49 receptions for 729 yards and 11 touchdowns, adding 17 tackles and one interception as a safety/linebacker in 2018. As a senior, he finished with 49 catches for 851 yards and ten total touchdowns (nine receiving, one rushing). He joined the basketball team and took up track as a junior when college football coaches questioned his speed, setting personal bests of 10.78 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.84 in the 200. Rice placed third in both events at the 2019 Division I state championships.

After two years at Colorado, Brenden transferred to USC. A two-year starter for the Trojans, Rice was an outside (X and Z) receiver in head coach Lincoln Riley’s RPO spread scheme with Air Raid concepts. Understandably, it’s hard living up to the expectations of being Jerry Rice’s son (especially for a young receiver). Still, he became increasingly comfortable in his own skin — and his Hall-of-Fame bloodlines are an obvious plus. He was a frequent visitor to the end zone in 2023 (scored a touchdown every 3.75 catches), and his budding route athleticism made him a weapon on tape (80 percent of his catches resulted in a first down or touchdown).

WR Jerry Rice, 6-0, 200, Mississippi Valley State

Father of Brendan Rice, Jerry was drafted No. 16 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010. It took so long to get into the HOF because Rice played 20 years,16 for the 49ers, three-plus for the Oakland Raiders, and, at the age of 42, 11 games for the Seattle Seahawks. His stats are a parade of NFL records: 1,549 catches, 22,859 yards receiving (12.988 miles) and 208 touchdowns. He caught passes for at least 1,000 yards in 14 seasons. To go over his entire career, indeed his entire life, check where Wikipedia tests if the internet is infinite. Or where Pro Football Reference tries to quantify his career.

Rice was drafted on April 30, 1985, and Coach Bill Walsh had been talking about him almost obsessively off the record for some time. On draft day, Walsh was concerned that the Dallas Cowboys, picking 17th, would take Rice. Walsh traded the 49ers first, second, and third picks to New England to move up from 28th to No. 16. Walsh had seen Rice almost accidentally the previous fall, tuning into a Mississippi Valley State game from a Houston hotel room the night before his 49ers played the Oilers. At Mississippi Valley State, Rice was featured in a wide-open offense that used at least four receivers on every play, often five. Rice’s college stats were 310 catches for 4,856 yards and 51 touchdowns. “Those stats speak for themselves,” Walsh told us that day at the team’s Redwood City headquarters. And they continued to do so for another 20 years.


UDR RB Frank Gore Jr., 5-7 5/8, Southern Miss

Signed as an undrafted rookie by the Buffalo Bills moments after the draft. The junior Gore hits the pros following four productive seasons for Southern Miss, totaling 4,022 yards rushing with 26 touchdowns. He was named MVP at the Senior Bowl. The 5-foot-7 1/2, 201-pound runner can also help out in the passing game. Gore Jr’s quicker than fast and goes all out from kickoff to final gun (do they use guns anymore?). He was born and raised in Miami by his mother (Shasta Smith), but he has a close relationship with his father (Frank Sr.), who had a prolific 16-year career in the NFL.

A four-year starter at Southern Miss, Gore was the lead back in former offensive coordinator Sam Gregg’s multiple-run scheme. He arrived in Hattiesburg with plenty of hype and didn’t disappoint — he led the team in rushing four straight seasons and became just the third player in school history to surpass 4,000 career yards rushing. In all fairness, we should approach the evaluation of Gore Jr. with tempered expectations. He should not be compared to his All-Pro father. But vision and toughness are in his DNA, and he has potential as a receiver. His workhorse mentality might fit the right offense.

RB Frank Gore, 5-9, 212, Miami

Father or Frank Gore Jr. Frank Sr. retired from the NFL in 2020 after 16 years with precisely 16,000 yards rushing — third-most in league history. He is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2026. At U. of Miami (2001–2004), Gore shared the backfield with Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee. Gore underwent two ACL surgeries in 2002 and 2003, but in 2004 carried 197 times for 945 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2005, the San Francisco 49ers drafted him No. 65 overall (Round 3). Gore played ten years for the 49ers, three for the Indianapolis Colts, and one each for Buffalo, Miami and the New York Jets—quite a career after entering the NFL following two knee surgeries.

Gore Sr. spoke out after Jr. slipped through the draft and was signed as a free agent by Buffalo. "We're good. We're going to Buffalo man to do our thing," Sr. said. "Tell them they better be ready — trust me. I know what I'm raising. Folks slept on my son; they slept on me, too — they'll see. My bloodline is for real. Our (pre-draft) testing was identical. All the scouts were like you can tell that's my son. He's the real deal. I'm happy to get my son to this point. We're coming to play."


Terrell Owens' Son Signs With One Of His Former Teams | iHeart

Terique (L) and Terrell Owens

UDR WR Terique Owens, 6-1 7/8, 194, Missouri State

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers shortly after the 2024 NFL Draft. The son of Hall of Famer and former 49er Terrell Owens, Terique grew up in Oakland and attended Bishop O’Dowd, where, like his father, he switched from basketball as a high school junior. He played for Contra Costa (Junior) College in 2018, stopped off at Florida Atlantic before playing the last three seasons at Missouri State.

Last season, Terique played in 10 games as a senior with a pair of starts. He was second on the squad in receiving yards (528) and third in pass receptions (28). Owens ranked 12th nationally and second in the MVFC in yards per reception (18.86). In March, Terique worked out at University of Missouri’s Pro Day, and the 49ers were among 20 teams in attendance. Terique ran 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, lept 38.5 inches in the vertical jump and had a broad jump of 10 feet-four inches. FWIW, the younger Owens’ marks were better than his dad’s Indy Combine results from 1996, when the original TO, slightly larger at 6-3, 224, ran 40 yards in 4.65 seconds, jumped 33 inches in the vertical and didn’t do the broad jump. His father was well-known for his passionate and vocal demeanor; Terique says he is different. "I don't have a loud personality," he said. “For the most part, I'm fairly quiet, and I keep my head down and work."

WR Terrell Owens, 6-3, 224, Mississippi Valley State

Father of Terique, Terrell was drafted No. 89 overall (Round 3) by the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he played eight of his 15 years in the NFL with stops in Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo, and Cincinnati. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, despite his statistics being almost identical to those of Randy Moss, who was inducted the same year as a first-ballot entrant.

In 15 seasons and 219 NFL games, Owens caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 98 touchdowns. (Moss played 16 seasons, 218 games, and caught 982 passes for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns.) The main difference between the two great receivers is that Moss overcame some shaky character-based moments in his career to become a popular personality, and even a media darling, in his post-NFL playing days. Owens, outspoken and demonstrative, put off a lot of people who didn’t understand him and didn’t care to. Even when he was inducted into the HOF, TO again pushed buttons by refusing to attend Canton’s ceremonies because he languished three years after becoming eligible. Instead, he hosted his own celebration in McKenzie Arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, his alma mater. Owens is the only inductee in the hall who skipped his Canton ceremony and instead hosted a separate induction ceremony.

Speaking of celebrations, TO performed some of the most memorable on the field. While with the 49ers in September 2000, at a game at Dallas, after scoring a touchdown, he ran to the center of the field and stood on the Cowboys’ star. The second time he did that, Dallas safety George Teague leveled TO, starting a confrontation between the teams. Teague was ejected, TO suspended one week, and WR still said, “If the Cowboys want to stop me from celebrating, they should stop me from scoring.”

During a Monday Night game against the Seattle Seahawks in October of 2002, TO pulled a Sharpie from his sock after catching a touchdown pass, autographed the football, and handed it to his financial advisor, who was also the financial advisor for Shawn Springs, the Seahawks corner covering TO on the play. This led to the NFL prohibiting “foreign objects” on the field. TO went on to create other celebrations, most notably the “Bird Dance” while with the Eagles, in which he flapped his arms dramatically.

While this put off a lot of football followers, I always appreciated his unbridled love of playing the game. I strongly advocated his induction into the Hall of Fame as soon as he was eligible. My reasons go beyond his significant stats. In 2004, Owens fractured his fibula on a horse-collar tackle by Dallas safety Roy Williams (who was responsible for that tactic being banned after it caused several injuries). The injury required surgery that included the insertion of a screw in his leg. In January, Owens defied doctors’ advice, signed a liability waiver, and started in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots. He began quickly and caught nine passes for 122 yards, but the Patriots won, 24-21. After the game, some criticized Owens for being “selfish.” Owens responded by saying the media would have called Brett Favre ‘a warrior,’ “but for me they say I was selfish.” Honestly, I think he made a good point.

In 2010, at the age of 37, TO signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. In a Week 4 game against Cleveland, he caught 10 passes for 222 yards, including a 78-yard TD. In December, he was put on injured reserve for the first time in his 15-year career. Although he led the team with 72 catches, 983 yards, and nine touchdowns, TO was not re-signed by the Bengals. He tore an ACL and underwent surgery in April of 2011. He was cleared to play in October and held a televised workout on Oct. 25, but no teams attended. Determined to play, Owens joined the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League and, on August 6, 2012, signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks. He was released by the Seahawks later that month. As recently as December 2022, Owens said he was in contact with the Dallas Cowboys, but nothing came of it.

TO continues to work out and is in what would be great shape for a 40-year-old. But he is 51, though still ready to play.

Some details on draftees courtesy of former NFL Draft Scout senior analyst Dane Brugler.




By Frank NFLDraftScout.com

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