SAN FRANCISCO - Terrell Owens didn't make the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, and a lot of people understandably want to know why.

Owens, who is second all-time to Jerry Rice in receiving yards (15,934), third all-time to Rice and Randy Moss in touchdown catches (153), and sixth all-time in receptions (1,078), didn't even survive the first cut of modern-era finalists during the nine-hour meeting of the Hall's 46 selectors, getting whacked along with kicker Morten Andersen, running back Edgerrin James, safety Steve Atwater and guard Alan Faneca during the first secret-ballot reduction vote, which pruned the number of finalists from 15 to 10.

Not much surprises me, but Owens' quick elimination did.

I had an up-close-and-personal look at the five-time All Pro's major behavioral shortcomings during his all-too-brief stint with the Eagles in 2004-05. I saw him at his divisive worst.

But I also had an up-close-and-personal view of his amazing talent. I thought his talent and overall career productivity would override his history of divisiveness. Eventually, it almost certainly will. Eventually, he will get a gold jacket and have a bust in Canton. But it could take a few years.

Apparently, many of my colleagues feel he needs to spend some time in purgatory before he gets to enter the pearly gates of Canton.

As one of the Hall's 46 selectors, I am not allowed to tell you specifically what was said in the meeting room during our discussions about Owens or any of the other finalists.

But I can tell you what many of them said to me afterward. In a nutshell, they said Owens was a horrible teammate who dragged down many of the five clubs he played on. And they felt that was more than enough reason to ignore his impressive statistics.

A couple of things need to be mentioned here. The first is that, while I disagree with their premise, the voters are perfectly within their rights to consider Owens' behavioral history as it pertains to its effect on the teams on which he played.

While we are instructed by the Hall of Fame to only consider a person's on-field achievements, his behavior in the huddle and in the locker room certainly fall under that umbrella, unlike, say, a guy's criminal or drug history.

But this is what I know: Owens' teams made the playoffs in eight of his first 12 years in the league and had double-digit-win seasons in seven of those 12 seasons.

In his eight seasons with the 49ers, they won 13 games one year and 12 in three other seasons.

The Eagles won a franchise-record 13 games and went to the Super Bowl after trading for Owens in 2004. Owens caught nine passes for 122 yards in that Super Bowl loss to the Patriots just 6 1/2 weeks after tearing a ligament in his ankle and fracturing his fibula. Played in that game even though the doctor who performed the surgery refused to clear him.

The Cowboys won 13 games in the second of the two seasons Owens played for them.

I'm not defending his behavior. The man was an absolute disruptive jackass at times. But he also was an incredible player who, with the exception of his second and final season with the Eagles, helped his teams more than he hurt them.

And you know what? Just last year, we put a guy in Canton who was every bit the locker-room tsunami that Owens was: Charles Haley.

Despite his behavioral problems, which later were attributed to bipolar disorder, Haley was considered a guy who helped teams win, which he indeed did. I'm just confused why the same people who championed Haley are viewing Owens through such a different prism.

That said, the fact that Owens wasn't one of the maximum five modern-era candidates to get voted into the Hall Saturday is not a "disgrace," as some people on social media suggested, and doesn't "put a stain" on the voting process, as a couple of others claimed.

Since 2000, there have been 76 modern-era candidates voted into Canton. Only 27 of them made it in their first year of eligibility. Eight were quarterbacks and another four were running backs.

The only wide receiver to go in on the first ballot during that period has been Rice, in 2010.

Andre Reed was on the ballot for eight years before he got in. Haley, Cris Carter and Tim Brown had to wait six. Jerome Bettis and Will Shields five.

Linebacker Kevin Greene was Hall-eligible for 13 years and a close-but-no-cigar finalist four previous times before finally getting voted in Saturday. Greene is third all-time in sacks behind only Reggie White and Bruce Smith, who both were first-ballot shoo-ins.

So cool it with the outrage. Sometimes the wheels of the Canton voting process move a little slow.

One guy tweeted me and demanded to know why Marvin Harrison "got in over" Owens. Hey, it wasn't an either/or thing.

Before I went in to Saturday's marathon meeting, I ranked the 15 modern-era finalists. Both Harrison and Owens were in my top five, along with Greene, Orlando Pace and no-brainer Brett Favre.

Owens was the only one of my top five who didn't make it.

This was Harrison's third year of eligibility. He also was a finalist the previous two years, but was eliminated in the reduction votes from 15 to five the previous two years.

Harrison deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. So does Owens. At some point, he'll get in. Maybe next year, maybe the year after, maybe the year after that. I don't know.

But Owens' career receiving numbers make too compelling a case for him to be left out of Canton simply because he had a problem getting along with his quarterbacks.

pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog