Giving T.O. His Due, And Boos

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - August 24, 2005
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Who knows what the story will be by the time this hits your mailbox, but let’s give it a shot. We are talking about the big T.O., after all.

Usually in these types of things you can sort the crowds into divisions of supporters and detractors. In this instance, however, it’s hard to find many who are actually taking the side of the enigmatic receiver. No teammates, other players or NFL alumni are lining up to say “Hey, he’s not such a bad guy. Just give him the cash and let’s move on.” For sure, a lonely place for all but the most supremely confident — and self-centered. But he’s got Drew Rosenhaus to help push the buttons. What more does he need? Unless, of course, Drew can’t get it done. Then he may also be shown the door.

First things first.

As upsetting it is to many TO trashers, the man has the right to hold out for a better contract. He shouldn’t get paid while doing it, and he should have been docked a week’s pay when coach Andy Reid sent him packing for seven days. Unlike any other pro sport, NFL contracts are not guaranteed. Teams can dump players at any time. If a team has the right to void a player’s contract, the player should have an equal right. Above all the BS, ego and posturing is the simple idea of what’s fair. Yes, we’re tired of athletes who feel slighted by a contract that only pays them a few million dollars a year. And we couldn’t help but laugh with disgust when Latrell Sprewell said feeding his family was a concern in his wanting an extension to his $14.6 million contract.

The real problem with Owens is not that he wants more, but that he handled the situation horribly. Common football wisdom, and even Michael “Give ’Em More Money” Irving says there are only two guys on a football team you don’t mess with: The quarterback and the head coach. Owens has alienated both. Also, if he had waited another year before looking for more cash, hardly a soul would have batted an eye, especially if Philly went back to the Super Bowl. Fans would have been standing in line with checkbook in hand to help raise the funds.

So what’s next?

Philadelphia has to trade Owens. There is really no other option. Sitting him would mean paying big money for no production, while releasing him would get the team nothing in return. The bridges are burnt in The City of Brotherly Love, and it doesn’t seem that Owens will ever again see eye-to-eye with Reid or QB Donovan McNabb. Most doubt they can even get along well enough in any sort of professional manner to keep the team from spiraling into chaos, which is too bad. Without Terrell, the Eagles went to three straight NFC Championship games. With him they can win it all. But that’s probably not going to happen, so the Eagles need to get on the phone.

The Jets, Steelers and Falcons are all teams that were close to the big prize a year ago, but failed, in part, to needing more help on the offensive side. Owens could give that to them. New York (12th in total offense) has quarterback Chad Pennington, with whom Owens has said he would like to play, and a good but not great corps of receivers. In Pittsburgh (16th) he could line up opposite Hines Ward and give the plodding Steelers a much-needed offensive jolt. And Atlanta (20th) has Michael Vick. However, the Falcons being an NFC team would make the deal a bit harder for the Eagles.

Why would they want him? Any team that signs Owens will get a hard-working and accommodating teammate. Terrell will be on his best behavior if for no other reason than to show Philly what it had lost. Granted it will probably only last one season. But that may be enough. One ring will satisfy the fans for a decade and should place the metropolitan area on top of the annual “Best Sports Cities” lists. Then move him. After helping take two teams to the Super Bowl someone will definitely find a place for him and his antics. Then you’re free.

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