Thursday, September 28, 2006

Say It Ain't So, T.O.

Well, as a Cowboy fan who first didn't want Terrell Owens in the first place, then hypocritically changed his mind when we finally got him, this morning I'm not sure what to think after, oh, about the 4oth or 50th thing T.O. has done, intentionally or not, since he joined the team a few short months ago to draw attention to himself above and beyond what has actually taken place on the field.

Yesterday afernoon I read that he had an allergic reaction to some pain medication he was taking. Then I get home last night and it's all over the radio that he may or may not have been trying to kill himself. So now we are thru the looking glass here. What is it with wide receivers in the NFL? There is a preposterously high preponderance of head cases populating the position -- led by T.O. but followed in outrageousness by NBA-like prima donnas like the cousins Keyshawn and Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Randy Moss, Antonio Bryant....

Someone needs to do a dissertation on why the wide receiver position breeds such erratic, selfish, attention-grabbing personalities. It gets so the normal wide receivers is the exception, to the point where players like Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt who just go about their business are aberations. Even on my high school team we had a few guys who were a real handfull to deal with, Mike Allen and Mark Yancey.

But nobody comes close to T.O., whose timeline Timeline of Antics fills up one of those five subject notebook deals we all used in school. And this from a guy who really doesn't get in trouble off the field like most athletes in terms of drugs, alchohol or spousal abuse. No, it's just a Hindenburg-sized ego, or the biggest set of coincidences and bad timing in modern sports history from a guy who still has his share of sympathy and support from ex-teammates and coaches and writers around the league. I agree with the take by Vikings receiver Billy McMullen, who played with Owens in Philadelphia, who also didn't believe reports of a suicide attempt. "Too proud of a guy to do that," McMullen said. "Too much going on. Too much faith in him. Too much God in him to do that."

I think in this specific case, no way was the guy trying to harm himself. Nobody in love with himself to this degree wants to kill himself. But I'm past the point of being full of T.O. stories. I just want him to be another player on the team, another receiver, one of the best in the NFL. I am tired of him drawing attention away from the other players and from the games themselves. I want my season back. I want to read about Julius Jones and Roy Williams and DeMarcus Ware. I want to hear from Bill Parcells without him having to defend/explain/justify matters T.O.-related, unless it's game plan related.

I'm sure Giants fans and Eagles fans and Redskin fans deep down are wishing Owens the worst. Giants fans were predicting a big blowup between Parcells and T.O. before the season was out, but they should have been worrying about their own problems, such as the mutinous statements and actions of their own Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress. Two more well adjusted receivers.

Not that Owens doesn't fit right in with historical head cases in Cowboys history; after all, we've had our share of outsize personalities and enigmatic iconoclasts like Charles Haley, Dieon Sanders, Nate Newton, Michael Irvin, Duane "Sphinx" Thomas, who once went a whole season literally without talking to anyone -- media, teammates, coaches -- and Lance Rentzel, who was married to actress Joey Heatherton but creatively managed to gain more notoriety by getting arrested for an indecent exposure episode involving a 10-year-old girl.

Rentzel, of course, wore uniform number 19 and was, you guessed it, a wide receiver. Wikipedia claims 7-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong was named for him. But Wikipedia claims a lot of silly things. It's more likely he was named after former AFL standout Lance_Alworth, also a former Cowboy who wore #19 but known more for his Hall of Fame exploits with the San Diego Chargers, where the acrobatic WR earned the nickname Bambi for his graceful strides.

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