Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Have at 'em!

This one goes out to Handy Andi in Dallas. It's one of my favorite articles about the T.O. battle. It's from the S.I. website, published in March.

T.O. had to go
Terrell Owens killed the Eagles; good luck, Cowboys
Posted: Tuesday March 21, 2006 5:16PM; Updated: Tuesday March 21, 2006 5:57PM

My name is Ethan, and I'm a recovering Terrell Owens addict. In the happy days when he was the centerpiece of the Philadelphia Eagles and the anchor of my fantasy football team, there was no one I enjoyed watching more every Sunday than T.O. It was a guilty pleasure, the kind of thing where you have to make sure no one's looking, like drinking milk from the carton or guessing Andy Reid's pant size, but it was a pleasure nonetheless. For the duration of the 2004 season and the first weeks of 2005, I was pretty sure that if T.O. couldn't fly, he could at least hover.

Then he wrecked both the real and fantasy seasons and nearly tore apart his entire team. In Philly, he's about as popular as dysentery, but without the upside of hilarious Oregon Trail jokes. However, he did one nice thing for Eagles fans on the way out the door: He went to division rival Dallas and became their problem. If the NFL's best receiver (apologies to Chad Johnson, who still has the game's most valuable teeth) has to split, he might as well take his traveling sabotage show to an up-and-coming team in a tight division.

Yes, Owens could certainly be the missing piece for Dallas. When he's on, he opens up the entire offense, and he's good for at least two or three extra wins a year. He plays extremely hard, never takes a down off and has abilities that border on superhuman. The problem is, when he's off, no one can be more detrimental to his team, short of walking through the locker room and manually tearing teammates' ACLs.

Most comments I've seen on the deal seem to say that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys pulled off a major coup in getting the big-play threat they sorely needed. Everyone is convinced that Owens will now be on his best behavior. Building your entire season on the premise that T.O. won't do anything crazy is as dangerous as juggling scalpels, items Jones usually likes to save for performing plastic surgery. It's not unreasonable to think that Dallas could be getting 100 catches, 15 touchdowns and only one blasphemous instance of Owens comparing himself to Jesus, whose bitter holdout from training camp with the Apostles over a contract dispute was left out of the Bible, I guess. The contract is only offering Him seven loaves and two fishes? He's got an entire arena to feed!

However, if the bad version of T.O. shows up, the Cowboys are done. Don't forget that when he's in peak form, Owens can reach a level of insanity that would make Ron Artest say, "Damn ... can't they find him a therapist or something?" to his coworkers at Circuit City. He's done shirtless sit-ups in his driveway while fielding media questions. He stabbed Ray Lewis and the Ravens in the back, then went out of his way to antagonize one of the scariest men in the NFL by copping his pregame dance. He severed ties with Donovan McNabb, a man who could have made his dreams come true, provided they were all soup-related. When the Cowboys visit the Linc this year and Owens is showered with the kind of boos Philly fans ordinarily reserve for Santa, there's a decent chance Owens could try to fight everyone in the stadium, possibly with the aid of a flamethrower. He's set the bar so high that you have no idea what's coming next.

Dallas fans got a little taste of Evil T.O. a few years back when he stomped on their star logo after scoring, and that was before he began solidifying his résumé for the Jerk Hall of Fame.
People have floated the argument that if the Cowboys and their fans could put up with the last generation's flamboyant wideout in Michael Irvin, they're prepared for T.O. The comparison is easy, but not quite on the money. Irvin had, and apparently still has, tons of personal problems, but he was a solid teammate. You can hate Irvin's too-cozy relationship with current players in his role as an analyst and wonder if he sleeps in a Steve Smith jersey. You can look at his choice of suits and wonder if he even owns a mirror. However, you can't discount Troy Aikman's campaigning for Irvin's Hall of Fame enshrinement. It's hard to imagine Jeff Garcia going to Canton to make a similar plea for Owens, although T.O. would probably publicly offer to pay for the gas for Garcia's Miata.

Which brings up the question I'm really curious about: How did the Cowboys brass break the news to Drew Bledsoe that they'd signed Owens? "Great news, Drew! We got you a deep threat. Now, throw to him at least 10 times a game or he'll start a rumor that you hunt the elderly for sport." Hopefully Bledsoe is more adept at dodging verbal assaults than an oncoming pass rush, or it could be a long season of jabs from the receiver who's built like a Greek statue at the quarterback who moves like one. Dallas will know things are turning sour if Owens alludes to the team being better if Brett Favre was their QB, and they're always one under-thrown ball away from Owens asking a reporter, "Can we get some Joey Harrington up in here?"

Furthermore, if Owens is serious about buckling down and trying to be a good teammate instead of a distraction, then why has he recorded an anti-Eagles rap and announced the release of a new tell-all book about his time in Philly immediately prior to the season? Perhaps he's just trying to get that Pulitzer that eluded his last literary effort, 2004's Catch This!, but Ineligible Receiver will only stir up more controversy. No word on whether he's started writing it yet, but it probably took most of the offseason to come up with a title that clever.
For the sake of Dallas fans, I hope the good version of T.O. shows up for at least a season; it's an incredible feeling knowing that literally any snap could turn into six points when he's on the field. I'd recommend holding off on an 81 Cowboys jersey just yet, though; because of a similar investment, a lot of people around Philly are going to be dressing their scarecrows in rather expensive duds this fall.


Andi Mae said...

Eh, people get too hard up about their sports teams. I figure, if Dallas sucks anyway (and they do!) then they can't be any worse off now! Good article, though.

Andi Mae said...

Brotherly Love? What? This from the city of battery-filled snowballs? Remember that? I'll take TO over Donovan any day!

Terrell Owens

P.S. I heart John Rambo too.


Bone Junior said...

Dear Adam -
I'm still sticking with Donovan because at least he can keep me supplied with soup.

Love always,
John Rambo

barb said...

Those soup commercials are frickin awesome. love your sweet bloggie blog. what are you gonna say next?? huh? huh? huuh?

Andi Mae said...

Making it TO the playoffs and THROUGH the playoffs are two totally different things. Years from now, when we are old people around the poker table, I will ask you, Bone Junior, "who did the Patriots beat in 2005"? You will likely say "I don't remember", and I will respond "Exactly"! You can keep Westbrooke and McWaah (with his mom and her soup), we'll take TO.


John Rambo

ADA Adam