Wednesday, August 17, 2005

An Open Letter to Terrell Owens

Dear Terrell,

You have proven to be the epitome of the spoiled athlete of the ESPN generation. It is all about you and only you and the only thing that keeps you going is face time on TV. I believe you are a horrible influence and role model for today’s society, and it’s time you simply just went away.

What happened to the good old days in sports? Rivalries used to mean great battles, and players had respect for one another. The only celebration you ever saw was a smack on the butt or a hug. Now, the end zone celebration has gone beyond ridiculous, and ESPN has done nothing but glorify it. Even in their video games, it’s hard to play the ESPN’s NFL 2K5 game in the “Classic” mode. This mode puts you in great, classic game situations and asks you to win the game as it was won years ago. For example: “The Drive” by the Denver Broncos in 1986. You’ve got the ball on the 2-yard line with 4:38 to play and you’re down by 7. Now go force overtime and win the game. But the game has stupid quirks like excessive celebrations that are bugged into even this Classic mode. I can’t recall seeing Dennis Smith deflect a pass and then go off to do a shoulder-shaking dance and wiggle his butt. Nah, he had the talent and didn’t need to dance to prove it.

TO has been a poster child for obnoxious, who-does-this-guy-think-he-is celebrations. Let’s take a look (source):

  • 2000 - During an October contest in Dallas, Owens celebrated scoring a touchdown by running to midfield of Texas Stadium and posing on the star logo of the Cowboys. When he repeated his actions after a TD later in the game, he was blindsided by the Cowboys' George Teague, which resulted in a skirmish between the teams.
  • 2001 - After blowing a 19-point lead in Chicago and losing in overtime after Owens mishandled a pass that Bears free safety Mike Brown intercepted and returned for the game-winning score, the disgruntled receiver accused head coach Steve Mariucci of protecting good friend Dick Jauron, head coach of the Bears.
  • 2002 - In an October contest on Monday Night Football in Seattle, Owens pulled a 'Sharpie' marker out of his sock after catching a TD pass. He then proceeded to autograph the ball and hand it to his financial adviser sitting in an end zone luxury suite rented by Shawn Springs, the cornerback he had just beaten on the scoring play.
  • 2002 - After scoring a touchdown in a December contest with the Green Bay Packers, Owens celebrated with a pair of Pom-Poms borrowed from a 49ers cheerleader.
  • 2004 - In an interview with Playboy magazine, Owens hinted that ex-teammate Jeff Garcia was gay, a claim he later recanted.
  • 2004 - In a November contest with the Baltimore Ravens, after scoring a touchdown, Owens openly mocked Ray Lewis by performing the middle linebacker’s trademark celebration dance.
  • 2004 - In a Monday Night contest later that month, Owens appeared in a controversial skit to kick off the network’s presentation of the game which resulted in an FCC investigation.

I refuse to take anything away from TO as far as his talents are concerned. He is a great wide receiver, and he makes plays. TO was the premier WR on the Eagles last season and he still could not be contained. Even when TO is the focal point for the defense, he somehow manages to get open and catch touchdowns. And he has been rewarded by the Eagles with a 7-year/$49 million contract – including a $12 million signing bonus. And do we all remember HOW he became an Eagle?

TO spent the 2003 season whining and crying, basically throwing hissy fits on the sidelines, for the 49ers. Finally, after the season was over, he decided he wanted to part ways with the team. Besides, he was due to become a free agent soon. His agent (at the time) failed to meet a free agency deadline in March of 2004, making him ineligible to become a free agent. Because they retained his rights, the 49ers then traded him to the Baltimore Ravens, but Owens refused to report to his new team. He expressed his desire to play in Philadelphia, and filed a grievance, claiming he should be granted free agency. After a series of negotiations, a deal was worked out between the three teams, which sent Owens to Philadelphia where he signed his deal – against the advice of the players’ union. So, essentially, TO made a mistake, cried, the union helped him, and then he stabbed the union on the back by not listening to their advice. I am assuming that the union told him not to sign the deal because it was for less money than he was worth overall. That may be true. He could be the best WR in the league, and he should be compensated as such. However, he DID sign the deal, an agreement between both parties, and he did not pay enough attention to the details of the deal to realize what he had signed.

TO had a great year last season, despite missing the last few regular season games with a broken ankle. He then worked hard to return to the team for the Super Bowl. However, it is rumored that the Eagles made him sign a waiver before playing in the Super Bowl as he was returning to the field well before the doctors cleared him to play. Any further damage shouldn’t be the responsibility of the team, hence the waiver (all denied by the Eagles, but who would blame them?). TO also had a huge game in the Super Bowl, even though the Eagles lost.

Suddenly, coming off a broken ankle, TO feels his 7 x $49 million contract isn’t enough to “feed (his) family.” That must be a HUGE family he’s got there! Oh, wait! His family consists of dead parents and grandparents, 3 half brothers and sisters, and an illegitimate son that he never sees. So, basically, TO needs more money because…? I don’t get it! You are under contract so shut up and play!

That ain’t gonna happen. TO originally said he would hold out of training camp this year. His new agent, Drew Rosenhaus is the bonehead behind that tactic. However, it is starting to backfire. The Eagles threatened to fine TO if he didn’t show up to training camp, so he showed up, but he said he was “not happy about it.” Yeah, I’m crying for you and your financial problems there, TO!

You know, Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been the most productive WR in the league wince 2001, including 4 straight Pro Bowl appearances on a team that runs the ball first, and he was promised a new contract after last season. He made $1.6 million last year and had 80 catches on a team that ran the ball more than any other team in the last 20 years. He was promised something, and he deserves a raise. And now Ward has reported to camp WITHOUT a new contract. In fact, he was on the sidelines on Monday when the Steelers played, of all teams, the Eagles! TO was probably doing more sit-ups on his driveway for the media. Ward did not play, but he was shown many times shouting encouragement to the younger WRs on the field. He was constantly clapping and giving a “thumbs up” sign to other players. Encouraging his team is a concept that is lost on TO. Hines Ward has respect for his teammates and coaches, and he wants to play football.

The whole TO situation blew up last week when he got into a tiff with coach Andy Reid. Among other things, TO refused to sign autographs for training camp attendees along with the rest for the team, and he and Reid ended up in a shouting match. TO was sent home for a week. TO reportedly said assistant coaches were mean to him and had no respect for him, yet he refuses to speak with any of them. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost a starting WR to injury for the year, so TO has some ground to stand on as far as contract negotiations are concerned. However, the Eagles will not renegotiate his contract, and TO’s jackass agent started hitting the media circuit to cry about it.

Drew Rosenhaus, one of the biggest and most powerful agents in sports, went on David Letterman (for some reason) last week. I watched just for a minute until DR tried to tell Letterman he was underpaid and how to cry his way into a new deal, and then I had to turn it off.

DR and TO came on TV at halftime of a nationally televised game to try to make their point to Chris Berman. After 10 minutes of whining how TO’s deal was “not fair” I think the world’s most powerful agent again came off like a desperate man that had nothing to stand on. Sure Rosenhaus made headlines for saving a drowning kid, but he’s got his client going down the river without a paddle right now and they can’t win.

The Eagles have made it to the NFC Championship game 4 years in a row now. They won it last year without TO on the field. The cancer needs to go away, and TO needs to shut up and play or just leave the game entirely. Teams have GOT to be afraid to pick him up if the Eagles can ever get rid of him, because he simply isn’t worth the trouble. Unless the guy signs 1-year only deals, he will do this to any team that tries to bring him aboard and they will all get screwed. With the salary cap in the NFL, nobody can afford that.

The media is eating up this attention, even camping out at TO’s home for interviews. Of course, this is playing right into TO’s hands. For the most part, the media is appalled at how things are going in Philly, other than an idiot Denver writer named Mark Kiszla. Kiszla wrote an article on Sunday DEFENDING the actions of TO – even calling him a genius! He’s claiming that TO is just another working stiff asking for a raise. Not true! Sure I’d like a raise, and so would anyone else that is part of America’s work force. However, the business world is COMPLETELY different than the sports world. Sure we sign contracts in some cases, and then we fulfill those responsibilities. However, in sports, every rule gets thrown out the window. Spoiled players name their terms, and then try to rename them just one year later while they are still committed to a contract. TO needs to honor his end of the deal, and Kiszla needs to quit writing ludicrous articles just to stir up controversy. I’m convinced that Mark Kiszla is a complete moron (his radio appearances had already cemented that in my mind) and he couldn’t make an intelligent argument on any issue. His only ability is to play the wrong card just to piss off the country. I guess ignorance is bliss, and writing about what you know people hate instead of what you actually believe in takes absolutely no talent and no heart.

Personally, I want TO to just go away. Like Mike Ditka said, he has not made the game better. In fact, I think he has brought it down a few notches. I won’t miss the antics, and I can find plenty of other things to write about. So, TO, take a hike and don’t forget your diapers and that awful attitude of yours.

Good riddance!

Pat Angello


Heather said...

Pat, you took the words right out of my mouth! That was wonderfully written.

Personally when I saw Teague blindside Owens for posing in the Star (& I hate the Cowboys), I cheered louder than I had in a long time! TO completely deserved it.

Bill Purdy said...

TO is larger-than-life because the media make him that way. We pretty much respond to these kinds of things the way the media tell us to. We're lemmings that way.

The media are definitely a problem... and even more so, so is fantasy football.

Fantasy Football teaches us that in the NFL, the individual is more important than the team. TO produces big numbers in a way that makes him a marquee fantasy pick. So lots of people follow his goofy antics because his performance as TO is more important than his contribution to his team. Fantasy football, my friends, sucks.

I am the last of the old breed of NFL fans, who care far more about the team they grew up with (in my case, the Broncos) than any individual player on any other team. To that end, at least half of TO's incidents were unknown to me before I read this blog post.

For me and others like me (except those poor, misbegotten Eagles fans), TO has zero impact. None. He's just another ego in a helmet.

I don't undertand why the rest of you care.

Pat Angello said...

I have to agree with Bill to some extent. There aren't enough class/team players that just go out there and play. Peyton Manning, Rod Smith, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Tom Brady, (insert Broncos running back OTHER THAN Clinton Portis here).

Yes, Bill, the media and ESPN are quickly destrying sports. Then again, America is quickly destroying MANY things. It's our disgusting nature to take things and completely over-hype them and make complete asses out of our people to the rest of the world. It won't get better, it will just keep getting worse.

I am glad to see the NHL was smart enough to reestablish the league and be humble. Hell, the games will be televised, by the grace of God, on OLN! However, Americans DID destroy it in the first place.

Speaking of hockey, we can get into the discussion that the humble hockey player is a completely different athlete because of his upbringing and the work ethic the sport requires. There is, for the most part, a mutual respect for the other players and a HUGE respect for the game. Is that because there aren't enough players in the league from a specific upbringing, much unlike basketball and football?

OK, enough - I'll get into to Maurice Clarett later...

Collin said...

Good post. Even a non-sports-fan like myself found it interesting.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pat Angello - sorry!