Monday, March 9, 2009

Chances to laugh best are too rare to pass.

Sports, Drugs & Entertainment - Camron
If I have one more conversation where somebody explains how thrilled they are that their team didn’t pick up Terrell Owens, I’m going to lose my mind. Without getting into my reasons for appreciating T.O. as a sympathetic, if tragically flawed and confused, hero in the story of the league, suffice to say that this notion makes absolutely no sense from a talent standpoint. There’s just no realistic argument to be made that the Cowboys are better next season without a receiver who put up over 1000 yards and didn’t just lead the team in touchdowns, but had as many as the next three receivers on the list combined. Patrick Williams is weeping right now, and Roy Williams, though an admirable soldier during his stint in Detroit, has yet to prove he can elevate a team the way Owens has now on two different occasions.

Which brings me to the historical context of Owens’s dismissal, which seems to be conveniently forgotten whenever his name comes up. Say what you will about his attitude (and much of it will be fair), but for all the talk about “destroying teams,” numbers show that teams get conspicuously better when T.O. comes to town, and conspicuously worse when he leaves. It’s the reason Jeff Garcia has been a perpetual journeyman since leaving the west coast. It’s the reason why Donovan McNabb looks more panicked each year that goes by without a title in Philly. Mark my words, it’ll be the reason Tony Romo finally has to answer for all the doubts raised by his dual status as NFL quarterback and tabloid celebrity. T.O. makes for a hell of a distraction, but sometimes that sort of distraction is a quarterback’s best friend. Otherwise, ugly questions make for ugly answers.

All of this makes the latest leg in Terrell Owens’s journey through the league one of the most interesting stories to look forward to next season. This is certainly because of what it will mean to the great Babylon of the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, and how it could precede yet another fall from grandeur Personally, I’m more enamored with following the scapegoat as he sets up his hut in the wild outskirts of the league. Perhaps no situation prior to this one has played up Owens’s dual role as savior and destroyer of franchises. I wrote a long while ago about Randy Moss, and how the concept of mercenary transcendent talents irked me. Here, however, I’m less bothered, as Owens’s dismissals, compared to Moss’s forcing his way out, makes him feel more like a journeyman than a mercenary. If you ever watched The Mission, think Robert De Niro, who wanders into the jungle to find forgiveness after expulsion from society.

The analogy continues to work when we turn it on Buffalo, which is a city in need of a savior both on the field and in the eyes of the public. Their hungry neighbors up north seem poised to take their team from them, and the rest of the league seems content to let progress run its course. In bringing Owens in, then, the front office has defied convention in the interests of defying progress, upsetting the natural order in the hopes of seeing a ripple effect. Love him or hate him, Owens puts fans in stadiums and jerseys on backs.

Maybe it’s crazy to ask Owens to obviously step into the role that he has occupied implicitly throughout the last several years, but it’s certainly not boring, and it certainly is a vision with tremendous upside. If T.O. still has the juice, what better way to bring it out than to put pressure on him to produce, not because he owes it, but because the team has entrusted everything to him, essentially giving him everything he always wanted. It worked in Philly (Spygate will forever leave that game in question, regardless of what it says about those involved). Why couldn’t it work now, when both franchise and player have so much more on the line and so much more reason to meet one another in the middle to face their enemies? If finding redemption was a large part of T.O.’s last several years in Dallas (which, in my mind, fueled so much of the displeasure at the team’s underachievement), then this final retreat from mainstream NFL culture into the wilderness, setting him up with natives viewing him with the awe major media outlets reject, means there’s hope for the NFL’s unhappiest player to find happiness yet.

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Cian said...

Oh my goodness, Owens pursuing what the framers intended! Life (Ben Roethlisberger). Liberty (Anyone who gets out their contracts with Cincinnati or Oakland)... now, Pursuit of Happiness!

Great article, Zac.

Anonymous said...

I'd really like to see TO shine in buffalo and for them to have a REAL dope year. That and i'm TIRED of people saying negative stuff about him destroying the bills or just doubting them in general

that and Romo is finna to be exposed

Anonymous said...

What did Owens do to help the Cowboys besides sell some jerseys? He was with Eagles for their Superbowl run, but he was also injured during most of the playoffs. Great athlete but his mouth is his down fall. No chance Buffalo becomes any better with TO. I predict that TO will start complaining after week 4 when Edwards can hit him with a deep ball.

Camby911 said...

Interesting blog
Don't agree totally however
TO right now is a decent receiver, in a freakish body, with big play-making potential. His presence on the field makes other players better because he demands more attention. Much like every other big name receiver in the NFL (Look what happened to giants passing game without Plax).
What separates TO from others is his mouth. Most important thing in sports is team chemistry. Without it, even the best won't win (2004 US basketball team, NY Yankees, Dallas Cowboys)
Look what happened when the Giants lost Shockey - they ended up winning a super bowl.
It is because football is not about one player as in most sports.
You are right, Tony Romo may now be exposed, but that is sports. That means you need to find another QB who can win it for you.
TO does not make teams better. Individual players around him may thrive because of his presence - but they don't win because he is not a winner.
Other notable game changers who can't win because of ego (AKA team cancers)
- Marbury
- ARod
- (Feel free to add more, i know they exist i just cant think of any right now)

Anonymous said...

team cancers can ALSO include..Deangelo Hall >_>