For one week, Buffalo has been the NFL's Siberia.
Laveranues Coles bypassed the Bills for the Bungles. Fred Taylor spurned Buffalo for a division rival. Eight of the 11 free agents that swept through Orchard Park on visits didn't sign.
One NFL source called this trend "a joke." Desperation at its zenith. Here was Buffalo – loaded with cap room – unable to even sign Kevin Jones. At receiver, the team's most dire need, the Bills were forced to sift through the clearance bin.
Thirty-seven year old Joey Galloway at half off! Yes, the Bills were desperate, even welcoming this 5-foot-10 elder in for a visit.
Funny thing is, Terrell Owens was more desperate.
T.O. doesn't want to be in frigid Western New York...with a young quarterback...with a team that lost eight of their last 10 games last year. At his impassioned press conference, Owens sported his new Bills hat like Jerry Seinfeld wearing the puffy shirt. Embarrassed, laughable.
"This may not be the most ideal place for a lot of people but I beat to my own beat sometimes," Owens said.
Well said. Owens is desperate. He's 35 years old and out of second chances.
After emphatically wearing out his third welcome, T.O. was cut by the Dallas Cowboys. Let that sink in. Jerry Jones cut T.O. That's like Communist Russia banishing Karl Marx. Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, claims that "3 or 4 teams" were interested in signing his client. Right, Drew. Egocentric, team-killing, me-first whiners are in great demand these days. Please. This was a perfect storm. The Bills were desperate. Owens was desperate. So they joined hands for a fall fling.
The Bills desperate to rejuvenate the Toronto Series, T.O. desperate to rejuvenate his perch in the limelight. Both sides have alterior motives here.
The crime? Buffalo is sidetracking methodical rebuilding for Al Davis freelancing.
Apologists will say it's worth a shot. Owens only signed for only one season. Maybe it provides ample time for the other No. 81 – James Hardy – to grow into the player the team expects. But rather than quietly building around a budding core (the Whitners, the Jacksons, the Poslusznys, the McKelvins), Russ Brandon and Ralph Wilson are opening the floodgates to pandemonium – and not the Van Miller variety.
By now, we know the drill. Owens is "Chucky." A chipper and friendly doll at the start of the movie...a blood-thirsty killer by the end of it. Everything sounds grand right now -- Owens, Evans, Reed dissecting defenses, the running game opening up, Trent Edwards taking flight, etc. But as San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas will tell you, such an attainable Utopia doesn't exist with T.O.
If the Bills win, Owens will complain that he isn't getting the ball enough. If the Bills lose, hell breaks loose. That's the T.O. blueprint. It's a lose-lose scenario. He wasn't satisfied catching passes from three of the best quarterbacks in the game in their prime -- Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo. Just imagine the scene he'll make when Edwards' learning curve dips occasionally.
And through it all, the young core that showed so much heart in that win at Denver is being compromised. Namely, Trent Edwards. Buffalo should be hiring a psychiatrist any hour now.
Terrell Owens played three seasons in Dallas.
Remember, T.O. is desperate. At some point, Owens will whine, he'll complain, he'll moan, he'll be disgruntled with something. And all the Bills can do is point the finger back at themselves. Brandon said he contacted Rosenhaus the day after Owens was released by Dallas. He openly recruited a circus show. Granted, Buffalo has only 26 receiving touchdowns the past two years – second worst in the league. It's been encouraging to see Brandon aggressively seek the big-play weapon Buffalo needs at wide receiver.
But not at this cost. Energize the fan base? One league source affirmed that "T.O. is the one guy in the league that can turn off a fan base." All it took was one bonehead, anti-Buffalo comment for Willis McGahee to get blackballed by this blue-collar city. Owens is the antithesis of the market he's in. His signing completely backtracks on the good-guy culture Marv Levy and Dick Jauron tried to instill.
Owens' stint in Dallas was ripe with an alleged suicide attempt, repeated "I Love Me Some Me!" battle cries on the sideline, a feud with Jason Witten, weekly throwing-Romo-under-the-bus individualism, blubbering post-game tears and the overall intoxication of a NFL franchise.
Any of this will set the Bills back even worse than they've been this decade. And as Owens smirked at his press conference, more of the same is on the way.
"I'm going to be the same person I was the last three years with the Cowboys."
Desperation collided with desperation. At some point it will spontaneously combust.
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