Terrell Owens Joins The Ranks Of The Unemployed

To quote John McClane:  “Welcome to the party, pal!”

Does this look like a man who would have taken any of Owens' crap over the years?

Also not employed by the Cowboys as of today

As news of rising unemployment rates and people finding themselves out of work unexpectedly continue to hit frighteningly close to home for many Americans, the announcement today concerning one man who now finds himself out of a job provoked a slightly different reaction.  Terrell Owens was released today by the Cowboys in a move that shocked almost no one — except for maybe Owens himself.  If you look enough around the net, you’ll see the usual commentary about the situation;  there’s a lot of “I-told-you-so” comments from the large group of detractors of the tempestuous receiver, and a lesser number of “It’s not his fault” rebuttals from his most fervent supporters (of which, there are still quite a few).

I’m one of those firmly entrenched in the former camp and not the latter.  This is the third time in his career that Owens has worn out his welcome, divided the locker room, and damaged the relationships he had with his teammates — with the most important relationship that always seemed to suffer being with whoever his quarterback was at the time.  At some point, one has to not be surprised — and considering how many people predicted this exact same scenario playing out in Dallas even as the ink was drying on Owens’ first contract with the Cowboys, the surprises are all gone by now.  In all three of his failed situations — San Francisco, Philadelphia, and now Dallas — in the middle of all of the chaos, the different coaches on each team, the other players on each roster, the different offensive schemes, etc. — there has always been one constant, and that’s been Owens.  The wideout is cut from the modern day cloth that puts “me” before “team”, an affliction that’s derailed more than one potential Hall-of-Famer over the years.  And as usual, that attitude has led to Owens running himself out the door in a place that was largely greeting him with open arms just three years ago.

The sad thing for Owens is that once he’d forced his way to Dallas by demanding a trade once he burned his brides in Philly landed in Dallas, there might have been no better place for him to play (and to win a title and better his chances at a Hall-of-Fame selection some day).  Everything seemed to be in place:  an owner willing to do whatever it took to win, a young quarterback who could get him the ball, a hard-nosed running back to carry the load, and a pretty good defense.  However, a closer look at Dallas’ situation reveals a dysfunctional franchise that was and is inherently flawed in its construction (starting at the very top with Jerry Jones’ incessant meddling and self-serving, exaggerated belief in his own contributions to the success of the team), — but while Owens may not be the sole cause of the issues facing the franchise, he certainly helped to add to them.

So the question that needs to be asked now is: Where next for Owens?  It’s a sad commentary on the state of the Raiders when they seem to be everyone’s automatic answer to that question, but they’re a mile away from becoming a serious contender, so Owens landing there would represent a worst-case scenario for the receiver.  The problem for Owens, however, is that he has so much baggage now that few if any contenders are going to take a shot on him — and you could easily ask why would they, when the potential for dissension and disaster equal or outweigh the chances of him helping to bring home a title (if you’re scoring at home, Owens has as many Super Bowl Championship rings as I do).

For any future relationship between Owens and his potential suitors to succeed, there has to be a strong-willed coach in place who can set guidelines for Owens right off the bat, a hands-off owner that will back said coach in any confrontation between player and staff, a locker room full of no-nonsense players that won’t tolerate any of Owens’ foolishness when he feels he’s not getting the ball enough (which seems to be always), and a leader at quarterback that could quickly keep Owens in line and snuff out any problems before they built.  Owens didn’t have any of that in Dallas, and even though many of those things were present in Philly, it didn’t stop an Owens implosion there anyway.  The following teams have to be considered the most serious contenders for the title next year:  Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Carolina, and the Giants (my apologies if I left your favorite team off).  I can’t see any of those teams needing — or wanting — to deal with the circus that surrounds Owens wherever he happens to be.

Also working against Owens is that it’s clear his advancing age has begun to cause a deterioration of his skills, leaving him a lesser threat on the field than he once was (and having watched nearly every Cowboys game thanks to the Sunday Ticket, I feel confident making that assertion, having seen too much of Owens dropping passes and unable to get separation from corners all year long).  His inevitable decline on the field coupled with his problems off of it make me believe that, while Owens will land somewhere for the 2009 season,  I don’t see it being in a favorable location.  Few of the potentially attractive locales for Owens will be picking up Drew Rosenhaus’ phone to arrange a meeting, and if one of them actually does, they may well find themselves further away from a Super Bowl ring rather than closer to one if Owens is suiting up for them once training camp arrives.

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