By: John Molori
November 14, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

Taking time out to talk T.O.

This week, my humble space in your sports media life will be dedicated to one of the finest human beings to ever walk God's green earth. He is a selfless man, a man who puts his team ahead of himself. A caring man"¦OK, I can' t go on. This week's column is about Terrell Owens, quite simply, a selfish ass. Here goes.

Speaking of asses, let's go to Bristol, CT for the thoughts of the best-dressed donkey in sports media. ESPN's Michael Irvin states, "(Owens) felt he apologized. He felt the first day, when he sat and talked with Andy (Reid), and Andy said go public and apologize to your teammates. He felt he apologized to the team, and to the organization. And the next day he came in, and they wanted him to go in front of everybody."

It was clear as Irvin kept talking that he was about to, once again, let his friendship with Owens cloud his job as an analyst. And then it happened, "I don't think you suspend him for this. Actually, he was sharing his thoughts," said Irvin.

"As wrong as he was, he was sharing his thoughts, and this is America where you do have freedom of speech. I don't think you should suspend him. I just don't think the crime fits the punishment. I'm a football player. Bottom line is, as a football player, I want to step on that football field, and win a football game, and I want my best player by my side. He is the best player."

Two points here. First, If Michael Irvin considers himself a football player, he should turn in his "Harlem Nights" suits and get back on the field. Second, ESPN should ban Irvin from all future discussions about Owens. I have no problem with their friendship, but Irvin is the ultimate Owens-enabler. At some point, a friend has to step in and tell his pal that what he is doing is wrong. Irvin has zero credibility on the subject.

Although much of it is hindsight, ESPN's Mike Ditka makes some good points regarding Owens. "History repeats itself. What happened down in San Francisco has come full circle with what's happened here," says the ex-Bears coach.

"(Owens) is a very selfish individual. He doesn't care about the team. He cares about money. Football is not about money. It's about your teammates and winning championships. You'll never remember how much money you make when it's over. All you remember is, did we win, and that's what it's about."

It's interesting to note that Ditka's Bears teams of the late 1980s had a number of unique personalities, Jim McMahon, William Perry and Steve McMichael to name just three. Unlike Owens, none of these free spirits ever put their own desires ahead of the team.

Still, Ditka sympathizes with Andy Reid stating, "In Andy's wildest thoughts, he couldn't have imagined this kid doing this. I don't think he ever plays with the Eagles again. I think he's a disgrace to the team. I think first of all, the fans will be unmerciful if he comes back, and don't talk about wins and losses; this is about right and wrong. He's wrong with a lot of people."

Ditka is right on the money. There is more to being a pro than being, as Irvin said, the "best player." Football is not tennis or golf where you are the only one competing. There is a dependability factor among teammates and Owens has violated that.

Fox's Daryl Johnston essentially agrees in comparing Owens to Irvin, a former Cowboy teammate who had his own share of off-field issues. Says Johnston, "Michael learned that it wasn't just his career that was being affected; it was the entire team. He realized we aren't the same team without him on the field.

"Michael was the hardest working guy on our team during that run. He was a guy who made some wrong decisions but he never took anything public and he never spoke out against anyone on our team. He wasn't a problem; he was more of an inspiration. The young guys would come in and watch how he worked."

Predictably, the hosts of Fox's "NFL Sunday" have little good to say about Owens. Terry Bradshaw says, "I played for Chuck Noll and I know that if this would have happened on one of my teams, T.O. would never play for the Steelers again. I hope the same thing for Donovan McNabb here. The chemistry is destroyed for the Eagles. Let him go somewhere else. Donovan, you need to go to your coach and say, "˜I do not want him back.'"

Jimmy Johnson, the architect of the great Cowboy teams of the 1990s, took a more business-like approach stating, "Andy Reid would like to salvage the situation because he went out on a limb to bring him in and he knows he can win games, but he can't repair the damage that has been done in the locker room.

"They should keep him on suspension and pay him for the rest of the year so he can't go to another team but cut him at the end of the year. Some desperate coach will sign (Owens), but not for a big contract. This whole thing has been about money. He has seen his last big pay day. He has cost himself millions."

Throughout the entire Affaire D'Owens, football has been lost in the shuffle. The talk has been about emotion, money and ego. CBS' Shannon Sharpe actually brought some sense to the chatter by bringing the effects of the loss of Owens back to the field.

"Philadelphia is becoming less and less of a surprise every day," explained Sharpe. "The problem for the Eagles is that they throw a 91-yard touchdown to Terrell Owens and they think they are good offensively.

"If you want to be a successful team in the NFL, you must run the ball. There is no way around it. No shortcuts, no way to justify the pass on every play. You have to run the ball. Even the great passing teams like the '99 Rams still had Marshall Faulk in the backfield, so as much as it's fun to throw the ball deep on every down, you still need to have the threat of the run at all times. This is not complicated stuff, folks. It's Football 101."

Sharpe knows from whence he speaks. His John Elway-led Bronco teams didn't pop champagne until running back Terrel Davis (henceforth known as the good Terrel) joined the team. All of a sudden, Elway went from being another Dan Marino to another Bart Starr.

Back at ESPN, analyst Tom Jackson doesn't think much of Owens' public apologies. He states, "I talked about suspension back in August and told Andy Reid and company to cut bait back then. I don't think he should be allowed to put on that uniform again. He has sabotaged this organization. He's sabotaged the quarterback. Anyone out there who tells me that they think he's (T.O) going to apologize, change into someone else, they're just being foolish.

"You can't apologize for every single thing that you do to a football team. You do not mess with the quarterback. You do not mess with the head coach. He was wrong. The Eagles were a great organization before this guy came in to play here, period." Hmm, I wonder of Jackson has apologized to Bill Belichick yet for saying that his players hate him a few years ago (OK, that was a cheap shot).

Amazingly, Irvin and Steve Young believe that the final act of this soap opera is yet to be written. "You have to go back to Andy Reid's values, the way he looks at humanity, everybody has a chance to fix it," explains Young.

"If Terrell comes in and says, "˜Look, I see that things have gotten out of control, I have my gripes, but at the end of the day, I'm going to apologize for the things that I said and the things that I did. Regardless if I have some resentment about it, I really feel that I am going to go in there, stand up and do this.' Andy Reid will say, 'Go do it. Put your 81 on, and let's go play.'"

Adds Irvin, "I'm saying it's possible, that (a return to the Eagles) could happen. I know for a fact that people are talking to T.O. about some things that he should do. I'm just saying that it's possible."

Hopefully, Irvin is, once again, incorrect. It is wrong to lump Owens in a pile with cheaters like Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro or criminals like Lawrence Taylor and Mike Tyson, but he has broken the trust of his teammates and his fans. Let's hope that we've seen the last of this imp until next season.

John Molori's columns are published at The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, The Providence Journal, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, BostonSportz.com and DiscoverTheValley.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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