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How Low Can You T.O.

Has there ever been anyone quite like Terrell Owens? Right on the heels of last week’s blog about the character and legacy of Barry Bonds, we’ve got reason to talk about maybe the ultimate “character issues” sports figure. T.O. is back in the news; and like just about every time he’s been mentioned in the news in the past decade, it’s not favorable coverage.

We sometimes tend to forget now just how good T.O. was. He is a six-time Pro Bowler, and five-time All-Pro. He has amassed over 15,000 receiving yards over his career, held the single-game receptions record for years, and is tied with Randy Moss for the 2nd-most career touchdowns in NFL history (second to Jerry Rice).

But throughout his career, he has plagued his teams with character issues and drama. His infamous touchdown dances become a funny quirk in the face of it. After leaving the 49ers, he insinuated Jeff Garcia was homosexual. In Philadelphia as a member of the Eagles, he sparked a contentious relationship with quarterback Donovan McNabb that he would inflame regularly through comments to media. After being suspended by the Eagles for “conduct detrimental to the team” he held his infamous driveway workout/press conference. His stint with the Dallas Cowboys featured his bizarrely emotional press conference after their loss in the NFC Championship.

Up until this point, Owens had always been a two-sided coin: productive on the field at the cost of nearly constant locker room issues.  But by the latter half of his career, his personality and professional prospects took a turn for the worse. In 2006 he was taken to the hospital after an overdose of painkillers, which he and his agent would later claim were not an attempt to hurt himself. Despite being a Pro Bowl selection in 2008, Owens was released by the Cowboys after a sub-par season in 2009.

By this time in his career, his reputation appeared to have eclipsed his value in the eyes of most teams. He signed for one mediocre season with the Buffalo Bills, and the next season another one-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite leading the team in receiving, he was not resigned after the season. During the 2011 offseason, he tore his ACL and underwent surgery. This proved to be the final straw for teams willing to give him a chance – despite holding a televised workout to show he was recovered, no NFL teams attended.

And today we find out that he has been cut by the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League.  The reasons given were his failure to meet expectations on and off the field – citing specifically his stated intention to miss upcoming road games and his failure appear at team charity events such as a recent appearance at a local children’s hospital. His partial ownership in the team has also been discontinued. “He could no longer be tolerated by the Wrangler organization,” said team owner Jon Frankel.

After all these years, it seems more evident than ever that Owens will never or can never change his ways.

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