Terrell Owens not 'actively seeking' to play, defends Hall of Fame plan

T.O. says HOF snub not about offending NFL legends (2:16)

Terrell Owens says it will be made clear why he isn't attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony but is open to a return to football. (2:16)

Terrell Owens clarified Wednesday on the ESPYS red carpet that he isn't "actively seeking to get into the NFL" but would entertain the possibility, "as well as the CFL," if an opportunity arises.

Owens also discussed his decision to forgo giving his acceptance speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, next month and instead make his speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Owens said Wednesday that he is being criticized based on his "reputation" and not his "character."

"It's always unfortunate and people have a lot to say when someone does something different, but what I'm doing is not wrong," he said.

Owens' agent, Jason Staroszik, told ESPN's Kevin Seifert on Tuesday that the 44-year-old wide receiver "100 percent" wants to play football again, saying "he wants to play in the NFL, but if he can't, the CFL is the next-best option."

Staroszik's comments came in response to Owens activating a procedural window that requires the Edmonton Eskimos -- who own his CFL rights -- to offer him a contract or release him from their exclusive negotiation list within 10 days.

"I know that I do have the ability to play. I know everybody sees the shape that I'm in. There's a lot of athletes that play their prospective sports, but there are few guys that defy the odds. I think I'm one of those guys," Owens said Wednesday.

"It's unfortunate that I haven't been able to continue my career, but again, I'm not actively seeking to get into the NFL; but again, if there's an opportunity for me to play, then yeah, I will entertain that, as well as the CFL."

He said: "If it happens, it happens, but if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world."

Owens said he is almost finished with the acceptance speech that he will give on Aug. 4 and said he has hired someone to help him with it.

He was asked what the message of his speech will contain.

"For me I think, overall, everybody's obviously wondering what went into my decision. I think John Wooden said it best: 'Be more concerned about your character than your reputation.' I think what the noise is right now is more about my reputation than my actual character," he said.

"They're making the narrative more so about me offending the Hall of Famers, and that has nothing to do with it. I respect all of those Hall of Famers that have gone in before me and going in with me and after me. It has nothing to do with those Hall of Famers."