The young Buffalo Bills football club took a giant step backwards on Saturday with the signing of a player I have often referred to as "the narcissist lining up at the "x" receiver position".
Just what were they thinking? Did they ever consider his track record when making their decision? Just look what happened in San Francisco with Jeff Garcia, in Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb, or in Dallas with Drew Bledsoe and most recently Tony Romo? And how about that suicide attempt from a few years back? I spoke to a former Cowboys coach regarding that particular situation and all I am going to say is the fans don't know the half of it.
It's always been about "TO" first and foremost and to tell you the truth, nothing else has ever really mattered. Oh, he's going to say all the right things at the press conference and I'm sure someone is going to write a story this spring detailing how TO has been doing a great job working with all of the young receivers in mini-camp and is in the best shape of his life. But when the bullets start to fly in September or he perceives their young quarterback as not throwing the football in his direction, the real "TO" is going to show up. Virtually overnight, he will distract and change the fabric of this young football team.
There has never been any doubt that Terrell Owens has the type of physical skills that most professional receivers only dream about. Possessing rare size, body control, strength, speed and firm hands, Owens has physically outmatched every NFL corner that he has lined up against. He also proved to be particularly adept on both vertical routes and was deadly down in the red-zone. But the rap against "TO" has never been about his abilities on the football field, but rather about the cancer he brought to every club he has been associated with at the professional level.
When I first read about the $6.5 million dollar contract Owens received three thoughts came to mind: First, didn't the Bills realize that they were essentially bidding against themselves? Secondly, with Torry Holt, one of the class acts in professional football history, almost certain to be released in the coming weeks, why wouldn't the Bills have made Torry (the ultimate team player) a top signing priority? Finally, why wouldn't the Bills have taken a portion of the money they allocated to Terrell Owens and offered it to star starting cornerback Jabari Greer, who earlier in the week signed a multi-year contract with the New Orleans Saints? One of the top young corners in the game today, the Bills will be hard pressed to replace the multi talented Greer.
I've known both head coach Dick Jauron and vice president of player personnel Tom Modrak for many years. They are two absolute class acts, and although I haven't spoken to either in quite some time, I feel strongly that the signing of Terrell Owens conflicted strongly with both of their philosophies on building a winning professional football club.
I'm also quite certain both of these true professionals will say all the right things, put on a good face and ultimately take the fall when that narcissist lining up at the "x" receiver position opposite developing star Lee Evans, self-destructs for about the tenth time during his long playing career.
I actually feel somewhat sorry for Terrell Owens, because even with all his great successes on the field, he will leave the game in the relatively near future, never having experienced that special feeling that all great team players experience and will remember long after the cheering has stopped.
One of the heroes of my youth, the late Kyle Rote summed that particular feeling up quite eloquently in a poem he wrote simply titled; "To My Teammates" I'd like to share it with you all today.
To My Teammates
So many things I've wished I'd said
and wished much more I'd done,
back when we functioned as a team,
back when the game was fun.
So many times--I now recall
those humid summer days,
when we could barely practice through,
our list of basic plays
But then--someone among our group
would walk that extra mile,
and lead us to complete the task,
to exit with some style.
The mind grows dim as years move on
and details fade away,
but essence of that band of boys,
is with me every day.
I've often thought that if we've learned
some lessons during life,
the best of them at least were learned,
back then on fields of strife.
I also feel the bonds we made
did bind and solidify,
those careful, precious memories,
until the day we die.