Wednesday, December 15, 2010

THE T.O. BLOW SHOW

Is anyone else tired of this?  Haven't we all learned something by now?  Hasn't every relationship played out the same way, starting with ultimate highs, big promises and media hype only to undercut by egocentrism, disappointment and failure.  No, I'm not speaking of politics.  I'm speaking of Terrell Owens and his entire NFL career.

This past week on his reality show, it is being reported that in a conversation with fellow wideout Chad "Ochocinco" nee Johnson, his blustery, loud-mouthed co-conspirator of the supposedly promising new dynamic duo, that T.O. placed the blame for the Bengals 2-11 record squarely on the shoulders of the Cincinnati management and coaches.

In essence, T.O. is right.  Culpability always starts at the top, and the Bengals have been a rather putrid franchise throughout history sans a few solid years of the Sam Wyche/Boomer Esiason era. 

However, what T.O., now aged 37 physically, somewhere between 18 and 22 mentally, fails to realize is that history has a way of repeating itself, and T.O. hasn't learned a thing from it and has thus been its greatest repeater.

We remember his issues which started shortly after he replaced Jerry Rice as the top dog in San Francisco.  The road to his current situation is so fully littered with the waste of his antics, bad decisions, lousy deal-making and overblown self-promotion that the Indian from those classic 70's anti-pollution commercials should appear on one with Owens and should be wailing. 

We remember how this started:  when Owens blew his own horn after he celebrated on the Dallas star after scoring several touchdowns, insulting the entire Dallas faithful and enraging his own coaches.  He was suspended for a week for those antics and eventually wouldn't even speak to Steve Mariucci, his coach.  We remember when he pulled out a pen and signed a ball in the Seattle game, catching the post-game wrath of Mike Holmgren.  Eventually, the 49ers got rid of him, trading him to the Baltimore Ravens after he failed to sign his free agent papers.  Then, when a supposed trade was worked with the Ravens who offered a second round pick, a better offer than the Eagles fifth rounder, Owens failed to acknowledge the deal.  He stated outwardly he wouldn't play for the Ravens and refused to show up for his physical.  Somehow with the NFLPA got involved, the deal was voided and Owens ended up an Eagle like he wanted.  And he was happy, well, for a few months. 

Within a year, T.O. and his QB Donovan McNabb were at it, much like Owens had been with Jeff Garcia before him, and T.O. was soon in Dallas, back to the same place where he stepped on Cowboys' pride.  He had some solid seasons there, and the Dallas faithful embraced him enough to tolerate him.  But age and injury started to catch up to T.O., as well as the dropsies.  A trade for Roy Williams, the acquisition and rise of Miles Austin, not to mention T.O's own demeanor, gave Jerry Jones all he needed to cut him.  One year in Buffalo riding Trent Edwards didn't solve his woes so here he is a Bengal.

An unhappy Bengal.

What T.O. fails to see is that winning won't make T.O. any happier.  It's a convenient excuse that losing somehow brings out the moody T.O., that somehow if only he could show his worth and lead a franchise to victory, all would be right.

Wrong.

Even when he was within one win of the Super Bowl, and returning to a more than odds-on favorite to return the next year, he found a way to destroy that situation.  And make no mistake about it, he destroyed it.  In the wake of Andy Reid's magnanimous behavior concerning Michael Vick, who is now the top vote getter for the Pro Bowl, is there any doubt Reid's demeanor is that of a kindly, giving man who believes in rebirth and tranformation?  Were the coaches to blame there, T.O.? 

Let's take Baltimore, a franchise who had developed into a Super Bowl winner in 2001 under Brian Billick and was simply a treadmark in T.O.'s road to Philadelphia.  So certain was he of how he should run his career that he stepped on a franchise that had as much promise then as they do now nine years later.  And for what?  So he could eventually end up in Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati, a downward NFL path if there ever was one.  Yet all T.O. can look around and say is that the coaches in Cincinnati have made this team what it is.  True. T.O. actually played some inspired football this year (noticeably while keeping his mouth shut).  And his friend Chad I-can't-decide-what-my-name-should-be is puzzled that somehow bringing the boisterous and bombastic receiver to Cincinnati didn't result in the next greatest show on turf.

Yet what both of them fail to understand and may never get, is the Greatest Show on Turf, the Rams vaunted offense under Mike Martz with Kurt Warner at the helm, didn't have one player out there spouting there mouth.  They didn't record a music video.  They didn't worry themselves with reality shows all about them.  They just played football as a team, a concerto of speed and agility, no one part more important than the other.

T.O. will go down as a fantastic playmaker in the NFL, one that could actually make the Hall of Fame dare I say.  However, his legacy will fall far short of being a winner.  He'll never be mentioned among the great names like Rice, Carter, Belitnikoff, Largent and Swann.  It's hard to believe but even Michael Irvin will get greater props and he's broken the law too many times to count.

No, T.O. will go down being known for his blow, not his show; for his ability to deteriorate any coaching staff, locker room and press conference into a situation all about him.  And now, it truly is about him.  And he's 2-11 on a directionless team.

But that's the coaches fault.