Monday, March 9

T.O. Signing Makes Sense For the Bills

We've discussed Terrell Owens before, and Cleet asserts he's a punk, but here I come riding on white alabaster steed to once again defend the monster that HYPE created. When TO was released, people were beboppin and scattin all over the place. The nation declared they didn't want him on their team, but rest assured everyone was also hoping he wouldn't go their rival. He's being made out as a QB Killer, but let's take a look back.

Jeff Garcia was a backup in the CFL just a few years before signing a 6-year $36 million dollar contract following a breakout year in which Owens was his primary receiver. Garcia completed more than 62% of his passes and threw for over 3300 yards during his three full seasons as quarterback in San Fran. Garcia has never surpassed the 3000 yard mark, and didn't complete 62% of his passes again until 2007, the same year he went back to the Pro Bowl after three trips with the 49ers (and Owens as his primary target). When Garcia was cut by the Niners due to salary cap issues, he turned around and signed a 4-year $25 million contract with the Browns. after disagreements with management, Garcia was released and signed a 1-year $2 million contract with the Lions. From there he would go to the Eagles on another 1-year deal, before signing with the Buccaneers for 2-years and $7 million.

When TO arrived in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb had already signed a monstrous contract, but was still hounded by critics, who pointed out he had yet to complete 60% of his passes for a season. In 2004, the year both TO and McNabb were healthy, he completed 64% of his passes and threw 31 touchdowns, both career highs. Had the Eagles not made the Super Bowl that season and given McNabb's injuries the following years it's not unreasonable to think that he and his elite contract would have been jettisoned.

In October of 2007, Tony Romo signed a 6-year, $67.4 million dollar contract after having moderate success (6-4), but with Terrell Owens as his primary target. Now, just two full seasons later, there are considerable questions about Romo's ability to perform in clutch situations.

What does all of this mean? Terrell Owens, "the quarterback killer" has helped two quarterbacks get monster contracts, and helped another preserve one. Jeff Garcia signed $61 million worth of contracts while and immediately after having TO as a primary target, but hasn't been paid 1/3 of that in subsequent contracts. Perhaps TO could come kill my quarterbacking career.

This is not to excuse all of the things that have gone on with TO. Terrell and bizarre press conferences go together like NASCAR and cheap domestic beer, but people need to recognize that the media has launched a one-man equivalent of the Red Scare. What's worse: TO being too candid about rumors of Jeff Garcia's sexuality or Jeff Garcia driving while having a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit? For the record, Steve Young faced a lot of the same rumors as Garcia, but he still managed to get the monkey off his back, without driving drunk. What's worse TO feuding with management in Philadelphia or Jeff Garcia feuding with management in Cleveland or Donovan McNabb saying he won't re-sign unless the team's improved? What's worse: TO calling out Donovan McNabb or Donovan McNabb calling out his receivers and management on his blog? Everything TO has done has been done (or worse) by someone else in the league, but HYPE focuses on TO because he's such a galvanizing force.

Owens's release by the Cowboys was a salary cap move and nothing more. It would be irresponsible to keep two high priced wide receivers while neglecting to fill other team needs. Jerry Jones had committed several draft picks to the younger Roy Williams, so releasing Owens made sense. Twisting this to be anything more is just the newest contortion of the truth by people in the media and fans alike.

Now, why does bringing Terrell to Buffalo make sense for the Bills? This is a struggling team in a struggling market. For the first time in a long time they have national relevance, and with very little risk attached. If TO is the malcontent that many will have you believe, he can be cut with no longterm cap implications. With the recent economic downturn having a star attraction (and a new one at that) cannot be overstated for a team and a city like Buffalo. He'll make selling advertising, merchandise, and tickets all easier. TO needs to do well in Buffalo, but Buffalo needs him to do well even more.

From certain individuals, we love candor. From others we despise it. TO falls into the second category for most fans, but his "transgressions" that have earned him this reputation pale in comparison to many of his fellow professional athletes. For some reason, a thoughtless phrase is more damning than a thoughtless act in today's society. Nothing Terrell has ever done approaches the level of despicableness of Jason Richardson's recent arrest, but every move TO makes is scrutinized at a level that virtually no other professional athlete can comprehend (and that's saying something in this day and age).

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