HOUSTON - So, the question you want answered today is why the hell didn't Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens make the ro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday?
How could a freaking kicker - Morten Andersen - get into Canton, and not Owens, who was one of the most productive receivers in the history of the game?
How could a running back who played just four full seasons - Terrell Davis - get in, and not Dawkins, a nine-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All-Pro and a member of the league's All-Decade team of the 2000s?
For the second year in a row, Owens, who is second in the NFL in career receiving yards (15,934) and third in career receiving touchdowns (153), failed to survive the first reduction vote from 15 to 10 at Saturday's nine-hour selection meeting.
Dawkins, in his first year of Hall eligibility, made it to the final 10, but was eliminated when the number of candidates was reduced from 10 to 5.
Let me make one thing very clear right off the top. There isn't a sliver of doubt in my mind that both should've been voted in Saturday, and I tried my damnedest at the selection meeting to make that happen.
So, anybody else who wants to accuse me of not voting for them or not trying hard enough to get them in, please send me your name and address instead of talking tough behind an anonymous Twitter handle. Because that gets real old after a while.
In the 15 years I've been a selector, I've usually been pretty good at gauging who's probably going to get in and who probably isn't. This year, not so much.
I never saw Andersen and Davis coming. I mean, yeah, Andersen is the leading scorer in league history. But that's because he was in the league for a hundred years.
He's 51st in career field-goal percentage. He converted only 47.6 percent of his attempts from 50-plus yards. And this is a guy who kicked in a dome for 22 of his 25 NFL seasons.
Former Eagle David Akers converted 54.0 percent. Adam Vinatieri converted 61.8 percent. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has converted 73.0 percent.
Davis played just four full seasons before injuring his knee. They were great seasons, but again, there were only four of them. Where do we draw the line?
What if a quarterback comes along and has three Brady-like seasons, then eats some bad chili and never plays again? Should we ignore the length of his career and send him to Canton, too?
But let's get back to Dawkins and Owens. Since there was only one real slam-dunk, first-year-eligible candidate this year - running back LaDainian Tomlinson - I really thought both of them had a good chance to get in. They didn't for two very different reasons.
When T.O. made the final 15 last year in his first year of eligibility, I honestly thought his selection to Canton was a no-brainer.
I mean, why would anyone have any reservations about a wide receiver who is ranked in the top three in two of the three most significant pass-catching categories?
This was a size-speed freak who was literally uncoverable. This was a guy who broke his leg and tore ligaments in his ankle in 2004 and came back to play for the Eagles in the Super Bowl six weeks later and catch nine passes for 122 yards.
Was he a diva? Absolutely. Was he often disruptive? For sure. Every Eagles fan still remembers what went down the year after the Super Bowl.
Even Dawkins acknowledged to me the other night that it took two years for the Eagles to recover from Hurricane T.O.
But in the same breath, Dawkins also said Owens absolutely, positively belongs in the Hall of Fame, bad behavior or no bad behavior.
The problem is, too many of the selectors in the room don't share Dawkins' feelings or mine. They feel his disruptive behavior over the course of his career is sufficient grounds for keeping him out of Canton.
After he didn't get in last year, I thought, OK, they're just going to punish him for a year and come to their senses this year and vote him in.
We're prohibited from divulging what is said during the selection meeting. But I can tell you from talking to many of my fellow voters, that they're pretty entrenched in their feelings about Owens.
Last year wasn't a one-year punishment. There are a lot of people in that room who are of the mind to never, ever vote for Owens. Yet, he's made it to the final 15 the last two years. So go figure.
Unlike baseball's Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame by-laws prohibit voters from considering off-the-field behavior in evaluating candidates. And believe it or not, we don't.
There are a ton of guys in there who broke the law or used performance-enhancing drugs or basically were just turds to deal with.
But Owens' alleged transgressions don't fall under off-the-field behavior, according to Hall of Fame officials. They have told us that the locker room is an extension of the field, and therefore, voters are allowed to consider Owens' disruptive behavior.
I saw T.O. at his absolute disruptive worst during his two seasons with the Eagles. I also saw him at his pass-catching best.
Was he an ideal teammate? No, he wasn't. Was he often disruptive? Yeah. Was he a cancer? Occasionally. But his career numbers are so overwhelming that they should trump his bad behavior. Trouble is, not enough people in the selection room feel that way.
That's a concern.
Even though he was in his first year of eligibility and even though safeties have been a tough sell in the room - there were just seven true safeties in the Hall of Fame going into last weekend - I felt Dawkins had a good chance to get in.
He made the cut from 15 candidates to 10, but was eliminated in the 10-to-5 cutdown. Since only the six representatives from Deloitte & Touche, the accounting firm that tabulates our votes for the Hall of Fame, know the actual count, I don't know how many votes Dawkins fell short of making the final five. He could've been No. 6, or he could've been No. 10. My sense from talking to voters was he probably was closer to 6 than 10.
Like I said, safeties have been a tough sell in the room. In my presentation to the voters, I harped on the point that Dawkins was much more than 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.
The fact that he advanced to the final 10 means a lot of other people in the room understood the special player Dawkins was.
So, why didn't he get the votes to make the final five, you ask? Well, my sense is that it was a case of him and Lynch splitting the vote.
When they gave us the names of the final 10, and I saw Andersen, Davis, cornerback Ty Law, center Kevin Mawae and quarterback Kurt Warner still alive, I thought there was a good chance both Dawkins and Lynch would get in. Particularly since everyone in the room was aware that the safety position is severely underrepresented in Canton.
But I underestimated the newfound sentiment in the room for Andersen, Davis and Warner. Andersen, who had been a four-time finalist, had never even made the final 10 his first three times in the room.
As far as Dawkins and Lynch splitting the vote, that frequently happens in the room when there are multiple players at the same position.
Happened in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when wide receivers Andre Reed, Cris Carter and Tim Brown all made the final 15, but kept cancelling each other out. Eventually, they all got in. Eventually.
Like I said, I felt this was a good year for Dawkins to get in because, other than Tomlinson, there weren't any other first-year-eligible guys who were slam dunks.
But next year, Ray Lewis and Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher and Steve Hutchinson will be on the ballot and it starts getting a little crowded.
The year after that, another safety, former Raven Ed Reed, becomes eligible. A year after that, Troy Polamalu enters the picture.
This is what I know. Dawkins belongs in the Hall of Fame and he is going to get in there. What I don't know is when.
A breakdown of Saturday's Hall of Fame vote and how I voted:
THE 15 MODERN-ERA FINALISTS
PK Morten Andersen, OT Tony Boselli, WR Isaac Bruce, coach Don Coryell, RB Terrell Davis, S Brian Dawkins, G Alan Faneca, OT Joe Jacoby, CB Ty Law, S John Lynch, C Kevin Mawae, WR Terrell Owens, DE Jason Taylor, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, QB Kurt Warner.
ELIMINATED IN 15-TO-10 VOTE
Bruce, Coryell, Faneca, Jacoby, Owens.
ELIMINATED IN 10-TO-5 VOTE
Boselli, Dawkins, Law, Lynch, Mawae.
MY SELECTIONS IN 15-TO-10 VOTE
Boselli, Bruce, Dawkins, Faneca, Lynch, Mawae, Owens, Taylor, Tomlinson, Warner.
MY SELECTIONS IN 10-TO-5 VOTE
Boselli, Dawkins, Mawae, Taylor, Tomlinson.
MY YES-NO VOTE ON FINAL 8
Kenny Easley (senior) Yes
Jerry Jones (contributor) Yes
Paul Tagliabue (contributor) No
Morten Andersen No
Terrell Davis No
Jason Taylor Yes
LaDainian Tomlinson Yes
Kurt Warner Yes
HOW I HAD THEM RANKED GOING IN
1: RB LaDainian Tomlinson
2: WR Terrell Owens
3: S Brian Dawkins
4: G Alan Faneca
5: WR Isaac Bruce
6: C Kevin Mawae
7: DE Jason Taylor
8: OL Tony Boselli
9: OL Joe Jacoby
10: CB Ty Law
11: QB Kurt Warner
12: S John Lynch
13: Coach Don Coryell
14: RB Terrell Davis
15: PK Morten Andersen