By: Bob George/
January 31, 2005

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JACKSONVILLE -- Ah, hubris. Such a sparkling human quality.

You all know Leon the football player. There's hubris personified. Real powerful stuff. Shows off his good side. He makes Joe Buck look like Joe Schmuck.

Shaquille O'Neal fit this bill perfectly until he met Phil Jackson. Big guy, big ego, zippo in the playoffs. Too busy with his rap and movie career. Let's see which Shaq emerges now that he is liberated from Phil and Kobe and living the good life in Miami.

Oh, and how much did Carlos Beltran ask for in free agency? Ten years, $200 million? That was too much for even the Yankees. That outlandish claim made you wonder who had nore hubris, Beltran or agent Scott Boras?

Now we come to Terrell Owens, who will be the object of everyone's affection this week, especially on Tuesday's Media Day. Forget about Super Bowl XXXIX. This is TO Bowl I. It will be so because the media will not be able to get enough of this guy who loved spitting on the Cowboy logo at Texas Stadium and autographing touchdown balls, among other things.

Face it, this week Owens will be a media magnet. You can't ignore this guy, especially when your editor or producer is goading you to extract every sound byte and every quote possible. It's because your editor or producer is in love with every pearl that emanates from Owens' mouth, based on the assumption that the planet Earth is in love with every such pearl.

He'll smile. He'll talk. He'll pontificate. He'll engage you. He'll outrage you. He'll probably even predict and/or guarantee an Eagle win on Sunday. But when all is said and done, Owens wants you to go away thinking that this is the TO Bowl, that he is the one big star, and that his ability to play Sunday is the one, the only one, story coming out of Jacksonville this week. He wants it to be a bigger headline than the Iraqi elections.

Frankly, it may not even be the biggest headline in his home state. You know what happens Wednesday in Pennsylvania. Something to do with this little critter seeing his shadow at Gobbler's Knob out in Punxsutawney. This six more weeks of winter thing is big stuff in the Keystone State, something Owens will never overshadow, pardon the pun.

Hungry mouths need to be fed. The media will be starved for his every syllable, and Owens will gladly oblige them. The Super Bowl brings out the paranoia in media outlets, who are competing for the most vivid and spicy coverage of all the week's hype. Face it, if you're a producer and you want someone to consider your program a "must watch”, Owens is your meal ticket this week.

To all of you who cannot get enough of Super saps like Owens, we thank you for your time. We hope this portion of the article did its part to satiate that which is insatiable within you. We now turn our attention to the cerebral crowd out there, those who have a life and a mind, and who understand what is really important this week.

Where Owens is concerned, here is the most important element of this week. You can't shut Owens up. But you must shut him down. As in "inactive” for the Super Bowl.

For this week, TO should only mean one thing: time out. Give Owens a time out. Sit him down. Do not let him play.

He can cheerlead all he wants. He can jump up and down on the sidelines and draw attention to himself. The crowd, Pam Oliver and the TV cameras will eat him up. But that is all he should be. A spectator. Period.

Simply put, the Eagles cannot put themselves in a position where Owens plays and suffers a debilitating injury which threatens or ends his career, after Owens' doctor is on the record as saying the wide receiver was not medically cleared by himself to play. Owens is going to demand that Andy Reid put him in on Sunday, especially if his practices go well on Wednesday. Reid should put his foot down and tell him no, and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie (a native Bay Stater) should stand up and support his coach's decision.

Dr. Mark Myerson, who performed the procedure on Owens' high ankle sprain (sustained against Dallas on December 19th), said that recovery time for his type of injury is 8-10 weeks. By the time Super Bowl XXXIX is played this Sunday, only seven weeks will have passed. Myerson is adamant that the nature of Owens' injury requires the full recuperation time, and that extreme football moves in live game action could cause a re-injury or perhaps more severe damage.

Let's leave out all the medical mumbo-jumbo for a second. The legalities involved here, as well as the liability of the Philadelphia Eagles, scream out that Owens not play Sunday. As long as Myerson will not clear Owens to play on the record, the Eagles are in a heap of trouble if they play him and something awful happens to Owens during the game.

Let's look at a worst-case scenario. If Owens suffers a re-injury of the ankle so severe that it means his career is over, by permitting him to play against doctor's orders, the Eagles are up the creek. Owens is mouthing off that he demands to play and all that, but if such a debilitating injury were to occur, he would turn around and sue the Eagles in a heartbeat. Look at all that he would try to recover in court: projected earning potential (the remainder of salary he would stand to make over the rest of his career not covered by insurance or his current contract), punitive damages (for negligence on the team's part for allowing him to play), and the ever-popular pain and suffering. The latter would keep Jay Leno's joke writers plenty busy straight through training camp next summer.

It would be the mother of all ironies. He demands they play him, they do, he gets hurt, and he blames them for letting him play in the first place. He'll take those doctor's orders into court and use it to debunk anything he might have said. All Owens' lawyer has to do is ask Reid this question: "You were his boss, why didn't you simply tell Mr. Owens, ‘No, you can't play?'?”

The time for that is right now. Tell Mr. Owens he can't play. Dealing with a whiny brat diva who will blame you for not playing him if the Patriots win is a lot better option for Reid than for the team to cough up millions in court, either by settlement or by full execution of a trial.

Myerson makes this decision a slam-dunk. Reid will probably turn it into a three-point attempt. The thought of Owens making good on his promise and returning to play in the biggest Eagle game since 1981 is incredibly seductive for Reid. Owens is thought by most Eagle fans as their one best chance to beat the Patriots on Sunday. But Reid must do the right thing and tell Owens to cheer for his team but not plan on playing.

If nothing else, given that Marvin Harrison and Hines Ward could do nothing with Asante Samuel (who would presumably draw Owens), how can a crippled Owens do any better? The track record of the Patriots in the postseason thus far does not bode well for any top-flight receiver, healthy or not.

What Owens should do is give Leon a call, and get some tips on how to sit on the bench and look good while doing it. Don't forget about them dimples, either.