The Texans defensive end raised more than $37 million in less than three weeks to aid the relief efforts in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. The other finalists for the award, announced Saturday at the NFL Honors show in Minneapolis, were Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and Ravens TE Benjamin Watson.
Olsen and his wife, Kara, founded the HEARTest Yard Fund in 2013 after an exam of their unborn son, T.J., revealed the infant had a congenital heart defect. The couple have not only donated their own money toward pediatric heart equipment and screening, but headline an annual gala that has raised almost $4 million in only three years. The HEARTest Yard Fund unveiled a new cardiac neurodevelopmental program in 2017.
Watson, who missed all of the 2016 season with an Achilles injury, returned this season to haul in 61 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns. He has been hailed for his work in a variety of charitable efforts, but his One More Foundation supports both existing charities and initiates programs of its own in working to combat human trafficking and violence against the poor. He also hosts the Big BENefit, which offers 25 underserved families an opportunity to provide holiday gifts for their children.
Owens ranks third in career receiving touchdowns (153), second in yards (15,934) and his 1,078 receptions are eighth all-time. Owens was passed over the previous two years, but finally got in this time. While his numbers are undeniable, Owens was perceived as a bad teammate — something that had kept him out of Canton.
Joining Owens in the 2018 Hall of Fame Class were fellow receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, former Packers guard Jerry Kramer, former Eagles and Broncos safety Brian Dawkins and former NFL general manager Bobby Beathard.
When Hall of Fame president David Baker, who knocked on the hotel room doors of the other Hall of Famers, called Owens to tell him he had been voted in, Baker said Owens displayed humility.