- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In On the Soapbox
Terrell Owens dominated on the field, but he will be most remembered for the feuds that he had with teammates and coaches off of it.
Photo by Jeff Lewis
Please do not argue with the Sports Editor. That’s like signing Terrell Owens and expecting him to get along with his teammates and coaches. It’s just not a good idea. Illustration by David G. Brown.
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Terrell Owens has the stats. He has the highlights. Defensive coordinators game planned against him and he drew the best opposing cornerbacks for the bulk of his career.
But Owens is not the shoe-in to the NFL Hall of Fame that people think he is.
Owens, who may be looking at a career ending knee injury, is second all time in receiving yards and touchdowns, and fifth in receptions. He was one of the dominant receivers of his era, along with Randy Moss, and Marvin Harrison.
But the question is whether a player, who every team that he played for got rid of him, is Hall of Fame worthy?
How can a player be put in with the all-time greats when teams that he played could not wait to ship him out of their locker room?
The San Francisco 49ers, who drafted Owens in 1996, suspended him at one time, and they made no efforts to retain him after his contract expired at the end of the 2003 season.
On his way out the door, Owens insinuated that the 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia was a homosexual.
Owens landed in Philadelphia, where he was supposed to get the Eagles over the hump. After one Super Bowl appearance, which due to injuries, Owens did not help the team get to, Owens imploded by demanding a new contract even though he made $9 million the year before and was scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2005, and he created a feud with Eagles quarterback Donavan McNabb. Owens became a cancer in the locker room and threatened to hold out.
Owens eventually showed up, but he continued to shoot off at the mouth. It has been reported that Owens was in a locker room fight with Eagles linebacker Hugh Douglas, which led to the Eagles suspending him for four games for conduct detrimental to the team and then they deactivated him for the rest of the season.
After being released by the Eagles at the end of the season, Owens signed with the Dallas Cowboys. He was supposed to be the player who was going to put the star back in Dallas.
It was not long before Owens had a locker room tirade.
After his first visit to Philadelphia, in which the Cowboys lost while Owens only had three catches for 45 yards, he yelled at teammates and coaches, and asked why the Cowboys bothered in signing him.
During the 2008 season, Owens again became a locker room cancer, accusing quarterback Tony Romo and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett of game planning him out of the game. It has been reported that Owens was jealous of Romo’s relationship with tight end Jason Witten, and that after the final game of the season Owens slapped Romo.
Owens was released from the Cowboys that off season, and the only team that would sign him was the Buffalo Bills, who only signed him to a one-year contract.
Owens appeared to be a good teammate in Buffalo, who only kept him for the 2009 season. The Cincinnati Bengals signed Owens to a one-year contract the following season.
There is no question that Owens was one of the baddest wide receivers ever to play the game, and that he produced at a Hall of Fame level. But at what point did he improve the team that he played on?
Instead of being a leader and a difference maker, he ripped nearly every team that he was on apart. What is the point of having a player who can dominate the game if he’s going to split the locker room?
Owens was a great player, but he was not a winner.
The 49ers held on to Jerry Rice until they thought that he was old and washed up. The Colts did the same for Harrison. But during Owens’ prime, the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys all shipped him out of town even though he was producing.
Numbers is not the only thing that gets a player in the Hall of Fame. Chris Carter finished his career second in receptions and receiving touchdowns, but he has not been inducted yet.
Tim Brown finished his career second in yards and third in receptions, but he has yet to be inducted.
Michael Irvin is not in the top 15 of any of those categories, but he is in the Hall of Fame. He may have had off the field problems (not locker room problems), and he did not have the greatest stats, but like his nickname said, he was The Playmaker. He made the key plays at the key moments, and his teammates fed off of his energy.
Irvin was a difference maker, a winner. Owens, with all of his states, has never been that.
It is sad that Owens will not be most remembered for what he did on the field, but the feuds that he had with other players and coaches.