A quick take on the Terrell Owens situation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I make it a policy to not comment on national issues, mostly. But being that Terrell Owens and myself share the same home zip code, I feel I have a vested interest in this. I can truly say that I don’t like the guy and he gives our hometown a bad name with each and every statement, end zone dance and planned press conference he does.

The thing is, I have reasons for not liking him &045; not just for the fact that he’s a grade a jac &045; well you get the idea.

In the spring of 1999, I had the opportunity to meet Terrell and actually work out with him inside of the weight room at Benjamin Russell High School. Owens was someone I looked up to and actually liked because he had done it &045; he’d found a way out of Alex City.

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Good on him. In my eyes and most of the people in town’s eyes, he was going into a perfect situation.

When Owens left the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to sign with the San Fransisco 49ers, he had the opportunity of a lifetime – to learn from a group of class athletes the ropes of being a professional athlete.

Basically, he could have learned how to let his game-play speak volumes about him as an athlete. On the West Coast, he was surrounded by positive influence – Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh and then Steve Mariucci, Steve Young and other members of the franchise. He had the opportunity to learn how to be a gracious winner, how to be humble and how to be dignified on and off the field.

For the first year, he followed their lead.

Then Rice left to play elsewhere, making Terrell the go-to-guy for quarterback Jeff Garcia.

Owens, not used to having the spotlight shown on him, played to his potential and led the 49ers into the playoffs.

Things went downhill from there.

ESPN’s Skip Bayless recently said this about Owens: &8220;Beneath all of T.O.’s outrageous egomania still lurks a shy, late bloomer from Alexander City, Ala., who wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school and who went higher in the draft (third round) than most experts projected. Owens has never quite been comfortable with being the can’t-get-enough-of-him star he so badly wants to be.&8221;

The next season he began dropping passes. Instead of doing what it would take to make himself a better receiver, it was of course Garcia’s fault.

He continued to blame Garcia so much that the front office eventually allowed the signal-caller’s contract to expire and ship him off to be never heard from again, engineering the offense of the Cleveland Browns. Mariucci soon followed suit and departed the West Coast for the Motor City because it was his fault that the Sharpie-loving Owens wasn’t getting the ball thrown in his direction enough times a game.

When it became obvious that Owens’ wasn’t going to be happy in the cardinal and gold he began being shopped around. Baltimore took an interest in him, but the &8220;Superstar TO&8221; refused to go there, basically saying he wouldn’t play for anyone other the Eagles.

The Eagles signed him. And with his help, not taking anything away from the guy because he is a great athlete, the Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl.

Owens came back and played in the game after busting his ankle three weeks earlier.

The Eagles ended up losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots because – in Owens’ mind – of Donovan McNabb, the quarterback for the Philly squad.

All those things that I earlier said Owens could have learned from great teachers, forget it. That’s not what Owens did.

Over the course of his second year with the Eagles, he began taking jabs at McNabb eventually resulting in his getting sent home from training camp during the summer.

Now honestly, has anyone ever heard of a professional football player getting sent home from camp? That should have been a red flag to the former Wildcat.

Nope, it continued.

Recently, Owens signed with a new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and began petitioning the Eagles to renegotiate his $48.4 million contract.

It took two straws falling on the already burdened camel’s back for the Eagles to finally wash their hands of the insecure wannabe from Tallapoosa County.

The first fell when he felt he needed recognition for his 100th touchdown catch.

That is a feat and I’m happy for the guy, but he’s in an organization that celebrates team success over the individual variety.

Maybe the insecure kid from Alex City should have taken note.

It took one statement in an interview to make the final straw fall. Owens said that with Brett Favre at the helm of the ship, the Eagles would have been 7-0 not 4-3.

Is this guy ever going to learn to keep his mouth shut? Is he completely overlooking the fact that the Eagles quarterback has an athletic hernia that will require surgery in the offseason?

Owens’ situation with the Eagles is one he’s put himself into, no ifs ands or buts about it.

He had the opportunity at the start of his career to follow in the footsteps of great athletes, coaches and administrators. He took that opportunity and did with it what he has possibly done with his career. Burned it.

TO, do you hear that?

It’s the sizzling of bridges over troubled waters that lead to other NFL franchises.

But hey, I hear the Canadian football league is hiring.

How up-to-date is your passport?

After the stunts you’ve pulled, and the people you have began to associate yourself with like Jessie Jackson – what NFL franchise is going to want you?

It’s that simple.