"While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton," Owens said in a statement released Thursday. "… After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere."

Owens, who said he has let the Hall of Fame know of his intentions, added he will announce "where and when" he will celebrate his induction at a later date.

"We are disappointed but will respect Terrell's decision not to participate in the enshrinement," Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement. "While unprecedented, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the nearly 5,000 volunteers and the entire community are committed to celebrating the excellence of the Class of 2018 that will kick off the NFL's 99th season."

Baker said the Pro Football Hall of Fame would have no further comment on Owens' decision.

A finalist for the past three years, Owens had been a hot-button candidate with his own public criticisms of the board of selectors after he had not been chosen for the Hall in 2016 or 2017.

Owens was selected for enshrinement in the class of 2018 along with Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Brian Dawkins. They will be joined by Bobby Beathard (contributor) and seniors committee nominees Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile.

The enshrinement ceremony will be Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

"I wish to congratulate all past, current and future inductees," Owens said in the statement. "It is quite an honor to be part of such elite company. This honor is something that I will cherish forever."

A third-round draft selection of the San Francisco 49ers in 1996, Owens ranks eighth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934) and third in receiving touchdowns (153). He played for the 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals in a career that spanned 15 years.

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