Enough already. What once was a skilled NFL wide receiver has become a punchline. He is a silly, pathetic nothing. He is a cipher. A shallow, sad, lonesome man who would probably kill himself if it weren't for the national spotlight. (And some still contend he tried.)
Athletes with super-sized egos are nothing new. For every Barry Sanders or David Robinson, there are twenty Deion Sanderses and Ricky Hendersons. Athletes often make the mistake of reading their own press, believing that just because they make large salaries and have their names in the newspaper, they can be assholes to everyone they meet. It's not a new phenomenon.
And the wide receiver position in football has become a hotbed of super-sized egos of late. They go from the fun-loving (Steve Smith, Chad Johnson) to the megalomaniacal (Keyshawn Johnson, Randy Moss). But none can touch the man cleverly nicknamed "T.O."
Terrell Owens is everything I hate. Not only in sports, but in humanity. There is nothing redeeming about him. He is a stupid, inarticulate, arrogant prick with six-pack abs and mediocre hands. He parlayed one great play (The Catch II, video here), some semi-creative touchdown celebrations and a heap of offensive stats into a "persona" that transcends football and puts him in the mainstream media.
But why? Why is Owens (I refuse to cave to his lame "T.O." self-moniker) so popular? Is it because he's a great intellect? Because he is witty? Because there is something fascinating about his character? He would certainly like you to think so. But the truth is, he's a dumb hillbilly who hoots and hollers. And simple-minded sports media like ESPN positively eat it up.
Owens has a penchant for hijacking the news. Whenever things are too quiet around the "T.O." camp, you can count on him doing something outrageous! Though he is widely regarded as being one of the elite receivers in the NFL (despite a season and a half of mediocrity), he constantly claims disrespect. Yet, this man who commands respect for himself everywhere he goes is so quick to act disrespectfully to everyone who dares not kowtow to his every self-promoting act. The man who once stood mockingly on the Cowboys' star in the middle of Texas Stadium yearns for all the respect he wouldn't pay to any other human being.
Greg Knapp. Donovan McNabb. Jeff Garcia. Andy Reid. Hugh Douglas. Steve Mariucci. You could start an expansion football team with the roster of people Owens has crossed in his 10.5 seasons in the league.
There are three things you need to know about Owens, and thereby demystify him.
1) He grew up a lonely child. Boo hoo. Oh poor little Terrell. He grew up in Alabama to a strict grandmother who made him come straight hom from school. She didn't show him love or affection. Put on your fucking helmet and get over it. Does Owens think he's the only one to grow up through a lonely childhood? Is he the only one who ever got beaten? Is he the only one whose parents were strict? Most people learn from this and grow out of their woe-is-me phase and learn to live. Besides, Owens's grandmother, Alice, is the one who made his life a living hell. Yet to this day he swears by what a great grandmother she was and that he would do anything for her. Pick one, Terrell, pick one. Not all of us who felt lonesome as children have thousand-dollar bills to dab away the tears. You poor, poor sad little bitch. Oh, and not all of us make our childhood traumas national media events when we feel we are not getting enough attention.
2) His so-called "T.O." persona was created by ESPN and other sports media. How many of us remember our first real glimpse at Owens being that time he was miked up and kept yelling "Who can make a play? I CAN!" and "LET'S GO, T.O.! LET'S GO T.O.!" When I saw those videos, I realized that this wasn't just someone who is beating his chest. This man is pathological. Whether it is the phony suicide attempt (and yes, I sincerely believe he wanted it to look like a suicide attempt so he would be on the front page of the papers again) or exercising in his driveway while shouting "no comment," the man is simply miserable if he doesn't have a camera on him. But rather than being an interesting outspoken athlete like, say Jim Brown, Muhammed Ali or even, say, Darren Daulton, Owens comes off like an ignorant negro, keeping stereotypes of chest-thumping, collar-popping young black men alive. He has never offered a shred of insight, intelligence or non-Owens related commentary to the national dialogue. He is an empty vessel, and yet sports media constantly spelunks through his psyche, searching for wisdom, finding cobwebs and tired cliches.
3) He's not even that good. Yes, I said it. He's good, don't get me wrong. But he's not a modern day Christ. Here is a list of receivers that I would take over him right now: Marvin Harrison, Steve Smith, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Lavernues Coles, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Jerricho Cotchery, Roy Williams. Owens (as of this writing) is ranked 28th in the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards. That is not an elite ranking.
And put stats to the side for a moment; he is simply just not as incredible as they say. Just last night in the Cowboys' loss to the Giants, Owens dropped a crucial fourth down pass. Before this play, Owens was visibly berating his teammates, coaches and everyone else within earshot because he wasn't getting the ball (a common custom with this idiot). But on a key play where they needed him, he dropped it. And then proceeded -- after that pathetic drop -- to laugh it up on the sidelines as if to say, "Well, we all make mistakes." Meanwhile if he were open and the pass wasn't thrown directly into his solar plexus, smoke surely would have puffed out of his ears.
Even on his best days, he can't quite get it right. In Super Bowl 39, Owens had an excellent statistical game, but proceeded after the game to thump his chest a little more, chastising those who didn't think he could do it. You would expect him to be sad for losing the Super Bowl, but he was just glad he proved his doubters wrong. Even in his best game, where he caught 20 receptions against the Bears in 2001, his defining play was the pass that bounced off his shoulder pad in overtime, causing the Bears to intercept the ball and return it for a game-winning touchdown. A statistical machine he is (or was); a champion he is not.
I'll bet Owens doesn't have five friends in this world. So calculated, so self-conscious is he that I'll bet he can't trust anyone, save for his beloved grandmama who locked him in a closet and beat him with a belt. Anyone who has taken a chance on him has paid for it (you're next, Jerry Jones). He is the poster boy for the spoiled, arrogant athlete. I'm sure he worked very hard to get to where he is now, but he has burned more bridges, and used up more goodwill along the way than our current presidential administration. And he will never win a championship. Write it down.
So much potential. So much opportunity to be great. Instead, he's a walking tabloid. And after this stop in Dallas, he may have used up his chances.
Get walkin' Terrell. We've had enough of you.