T.O.'s 'Timebomb'

This is the "timebomb''? More like a spitwad. This is the "controversy?'' More like a sock hop. This is the "anthrax'' that Terrell Owens was going to personally deliver to the Dallas Cowboys 2006 training camp? More like powdered sugar.

T.O.'s book -- and don't misunderstand me, there is something egotistically odd about a guy who writes autobiographies as often as some of us change underwear -- is a lot of things.

It's. ... um. ... 242 pages. It. ... er. ... costs 21 bucks. It. ... hmmm. ... is about as innocuous an action executed by Terrell in quite some time.

And while that soft-and-sweet-as-cotton-candy approach might be unfortunate for book sales, it's awfully good for the Cowboys, who up until recently harbored great fear that T.O. was going to launch self-destructive missiles at the league, at the Cowboys and at himself. But what the book is not, apparently, is destructive.

According to the released excerpts, what's to fear here? A "timebomb''? T.O. calls Donovan McNabb "likeable.'' "Controversial''? T.O. claims that he is "victimized'' by the media. "Anthrax''?

Well, it is a controlled substance, in a sense. Controlled by the Rosenhaus Family. Agent Drew, who reps T.O., almost certainly had a hand in the crafting of the autobiography co-written by Jason Rosenhaus. Who happens to be Drew's brother.

Maybe that's why, when summaries of the tome are written, the book (titled "T.O.") they read as if this is an attempt to put the bad-boy thing behind him, an attempt to make nice with the Cowboys, an attempt to write a new chapter in the football life of one of sports' most headline-snatching performers.

Most of the play in Philly, and nationally, has revolved around a section of the book in which Owens details an exchange with McNabb that in T.O.s mind triggered the beginning of their demise. Owens returned to the huddle in a game against the Giants and said, "I was open. ... Dude, you missed me."

McNabb alleged reply: 'Shut the f--- up!'

Um. ... that's it?! An NFL wide receiver insists he's open and an NFL quarterback insists on 20 seconds of unselfish peace in the huddle?! Good Lord, that happens every weekend in football at virtually EVERY level!

In the book, Owens apologizes to Philly coach Andy Reid, applauds the Cowboys higher-ups and takes blame for having a "role'' in the Eagles' collapse. "When I have to play against the Eagles this season,'' T.O. writes, "it will be with a heavy heart."

The biggest problem with the book (again, according to reviews) has nothing to do with T.O., and everything to do with the reviewers. ESPN made it a focus of its sportscast last Wednesday. One Philadelphia Inquirer columnist reacted to the book by labeling the author a "sociopath" and a "human toxic-waste spill." D/FW papers tried to position the book as some sort of warning sign for Bill Parcells.

Somebody snarkily pondered how many books Owens has ever read. (To which I would respond: Let's see YOUR summer reading list, chum. And USA TODAY sports pages' piecharts and Hooters menus don't count. He's "T.O.'' Owens, not T.S. Eliot. And neither are you.)

But a few days later, ESPN.com didn't even have the story about the book posted anymore. You know why?

Because there is no timebomb, no controversy, no anthrax.

My belief is that Terrell Owens' book was probably therapeutic for him, might be profitable for his publisher, and will be a blip on the radar screen of the Cowboys. But its most viable service might be to the media members who climbed all over themselves to be the first to proclaim the book and the author as scummy.

(Imagine the scene, all those reporters showing up at Wal-Mart, buying the book only after being sidetracked after realizing that Wal-Mart's grocery section still gives out free munchie samples.)

See, T.O. MIGHT do something disruptive this year with the Cowboys. (OK, let's admit it; he WILL do something disruptive.) And when he does, the media will get to squeal its collective "I-Told-You-So's!''

But given the probability of an eventual T.O. story that represents timebomb, controversy, and anthrax, isn't patience in order? What do you say, my media brothers and sisters, to the idea that we wait until Terrell turmoil actually HAPPENS before we all trot out our pre-fabricated "Owens Destroys Dallas'' stories? OK?

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