It seems odd to me that I am spending so much time clicking on the NFL tab on ESPN in March, but this year I cannot help but turn my attention to a wild array of signings, trades, and controversial roster moves. The latest escapade to pique my interest is the cutting of Terrell Owens by the Dallas Cowboys.
This fall I would have been more concerned with Owens turning to self-mutilation and cutting himself for every time he was “open” and did not get a chance at a deep ball. Now the Cowboys have decided the healthiest thing for the second most mentally unstable team in the league (nobody will ever top the Oakland Raiders while Al Davis is alive) is to make a clean break in the waning bromance between Owens and equally wildly inconsistent quarterback Tony Romo.
Just a season ago Owens was assuring the media that his time in Dallas would not end like his notorious release from the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, a top-five deep threat in the NFL is looking for a new home. The question beckons, who will want to take a chance on a wide receiver that drops passes regularly, will turn 36 in the next season, and has serious trust issues with quarterbacks?
My immediate thoughts conjured two teams, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants. Raiders owner Al Davis has a gambling problem when it comes to NFL head cases. For some reason he is far more loyal to troubled players than to coaches he has knowingly put in the position to fail. Sometimes I think Davis is more worried about having the Raiders fall off the front pages of sports tabloids than actually producing a winning team.
Owens fits the Raiders mold perfectly. He is, or was, supremely talented, has turned off most fans and teams in the league, and would undermine Head Coach Tom Cable. By midseason Owens could have befriend young quarterback JaMarcus Russell and publicly humiliated the young man (a like to call it being Kiffin-ated). Russell could be the next Vince Young, letting the media watch as his career and personal life crash in a vicious tailspin.
The New York Giants desperately need someone to replace Plaxico Burress. Though they would like to find a talent that does not need a babysitter, the team is built to win now and can take solace in the fact that Owens is a potential locker room problem and not a problem with the law.
I do not think Burress is going to make it back. The mood of the country is one that calls for condemnation for just about any offense. A millionaire football player getting away with carrying a gun is not going to go over well. Also, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just signed one of the three horsemen (Derrick Ward) meaning that the running game will not be enough to carry the deep-threat-less Giants. The Giants hand is almost being forced here.
On a positive note, Terrell Owens generally has a couple seasons of good behavior on good teams before he starts mouthing off. Also, remaining in the NFC East will give Terrell a chance to stick it to his former two teams four times a year. In the final analysis, he could give New York the additional dimension they need with a simple, lucrative two-year contract.
I am sure other teams are going to be mentioned in the new Owens hunt, but these two teams make the most sense. Both will equally feed his ego, so he has to choose between the one that will let him run his mouth or the one that will let him run some meaningful routes.