By: Bob George/BosSports.net
July 15, 2010

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No. The Patriots are not the Oakland Raiders.

For many years, the miscreants of the NFL always had a friend in Al Davis. You wind up being a loose cannon, you eventually wind up in silver and black. John Madden knew this well. He had three rules. Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on Sunday. None of those rules covered what you did in your free time or how you behaved in general, and for the Raiders, that plan worked just fine.

The Patriots under Bill Belichick developed the model organization in the NFL, then in 2004 brought in someone who was everything the Patriots were not. Corey Dillon branded himself as a malcontent in Cincinnati, someone who was constantly critical of his teammates and his organization. So he comes to New England, turns into a Boy Scout for one year, and gets his ring. He never regained his old self after 2004, but for that one season Dillon was worth every penny paid him.

Dillon worked out fine, so let's try another malcontent. This next guy was actually a Raider before coming to Foxborough. Randy Moss had a reputation for erratic behavior and for not playing hard most of the time. For someone with more God-given talent than most anyone in the history of the NFL, his attitude was hard to figure. He was more of a manchild than anything else.

The Patriots took a chance on him in 2007. The result was a record breaking offensive season for the Patriots, with Moss setting a record for most touchdown catches in a year, and Tom Brady setting a record for most touchdown passes in a year. The team did pretty good also, running the table in the regular season and coming up four points short in the Super Bowl against the Giants. The fact that the offensive line had its worst performance of the decade in that game was no fault of Moss; he managed to catch Brady's one and only touchdown pass of that ghastly afternoon in the Arizona desert for the Patriots.

Since 2007, Moss has had two good to average seasons, but is still fighting questions over his work ethic and attitude. His disaster of a game last season against Carolina encapsulated his post-2007 Patriot career pretty well. Moss has more or less lapsed back into his old self, someone who still has the talent to be the best in the game but seems much of the time to be taking plays off and not playing as hard as he can.

Looks like it's time for another NFL nutcase to try out the Foxborough Halfway House. How about it, coach? Terrell Owens, anyone?


We've seen good things from Corey Dillon and Randy Moss here in New England, but Owens may be more than even Belichick can make work here with the Patriots (PHOTO CREDIT: Icon/SMI)
Owens has had perhaps the most audacious career of any NFL player in the last 20 years. Perhaps the most physically gifted wide receiver in NFL history, Owens has been known less for his unbelievable pass receiving skills and more for his ability to alienate his teammates, especially his quarterbacks, and for generally selfish and childlike behavior.

Owens and Moss on the same team seems fantastic on the surface. But if you thought taking on Moss was dealing with the devil, bringing in Owens really would be.

The only element which would justify bringing in Owens is that he is perhaps another Dillon in that he is distinctly championship starved. The basis for Owens' crazy and erratic behavior pattern has its roots in the performance of his former teams, more specifically their inability to win Super Bowls. Dillon acted the way he did in Cincinnati because the Bengals never had a shot to win a Super Bowl. The first year he splits Cincinnati, he wins a Super Bowl with the Patriots. Moss came within one win of doing the same in his first season as a Patriot, and that would have included being on the first 19-0 team in league history.

This leads to another inherent problem with Owens. His pattern is to be reasonably nice the first year with a new club, and a total pill thereafter. Owens did spend eight years with his first club, the 49ers. He was traded to Philadelphia after clashing with the front office and insulting quarterback Jeff Garcia. In his first year with the Eagles, he helped them get to Super Bowl XXXIX but came up three points short to the Patriots. After that first year he soured on Eagle QB Donovan McNabb, and after two years in Philly he departed for Dallas. His first year in Big D ended with the famous Tony Romo fumble in Seattle, then his second season ended with the tearful "That's my quarterback!" soliloquy after a shocking home playoff loss to the eventual champion Giants. After three years the Cowboys let him go, and he tried his hand last year with Buffalo with little to no success.

So now on Wednesday, Owens gets on a local radio program in Boston and announces that he would be willing to come to the Patriots to try and win a championship. If Dillon and Moss could either do it or almost do it, so can T.O., he reasons. Signing someone like Owens is more seductive than anything else, but Owens will be 37 in December and the seductive element of this thing is greatly lessened.

One thing Belichick needs to do in 2010, which is agreed upon by most everyone, is to reclaim the locker room. Many of the leaders of the glory years are gone, and cancers like Adalius Thomas are also. With a bevy of young bucks on defense who might only need to improve their work ethic to return the Patriot defense to its prior elite levels, bringing in someone like Owens would hinder the development of a good and proper locker room. Belichick developed a self-policing locker room, something that his predecessor, new Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, could never do. If Belichick truly wants to accomplish this, especially given the fact that he is devoid of any coordinators, bringing in Owens will be counterproductive.

Owens may be genuine in his zeal to win a title. The fact that he played in Super Bowl XXXIX despite a serious foot injury spoke volumes about his winning desire. But his age and past history of instability make him an unwise get. However much Owens says he wants to win a Super Bowl, he still has personal demons he cannot seem to overcome. The fact that he is currently 36 years old makes him completely undesirable, no matter how much you think in your dreams a Patriot wideout tandem of Moss and Owens would look.

Save your popcorn for when you really need it, like at a movie or decorating your Christmas tree. Owens needs to bark up another tree. Or maybe he should simply stop barking and take his act somewhere else.

Act. Hmmm. Maybe he and Nicollette Sheridan can start their own TV show. She's single, and remember, she loves you, T.O.


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