A One-Year, 6.5 Million Dollar, Opportunity Lost

March 09, 2009 |

Let’s go back to a topic I posted a couple days ago, which got many responses, most of which similar in nature. I suggested the Ravens strongly consider signing Terrell Owens, and people came at me with such things as “The thin Pennsylvania air is getting to you,” and “I’d like to have some of what you’re smoking.” Hosts Bob Haynie and Drew Forrester posted blogs about how crazy the Bills (Owens’ new team) must be. I even heard it when I walked into my little league meeting wearing a Cowboys t-shirt. Everyone in the world is convinced T.O. is going to tear his new team apart immediately, and I think everybody’s wrong.


Let me put it this way. If you were in court, presenting a case of how Mr. Owens was going to ruin the Buffalo locker room in a matter of weeks, there would be no evidence to support your claim. None. As a matter of fact, all evidence would point to the contrary. In my blog, I stated that the Ravens should offer a one-year deal, which is exactly what the Bills ended up doing. If the Bills would have signed T.O. to a three or four year deal, I would say there is very little chance of him being happy for that long. But for one year, it’s almost a given. Let’s look at the history.


Phily: His first year with the Eagles he was awesome, catching 14 touchdowns in 14 games, adding a dimension to the offense not seen before or since. A late season ankle injury, which included a fractured fibula, had doctors saying his season was over. After the Eagles got to through the playoffs without him, T.O. returned for the Super Bowl, in what most people assumed would be nothing more than a token appearance. His “one legged” performance was closer to super-human. If the Eagles had won, it would rank with Willis Reed.


There was not a negative word about T.O. before or during the season. It wasn’t until that off-season when he ripped McNabb on a radio show.


Dallas: During his first season there, T.O. was ripped more for his play than anything else.  It was well documented how many passes he was dropping. However, he broke a finger in week two, and then injured a tendon in the same finger in a subsequent game. Instead of having in-season surgery, which would have forced him to miss games, T.O. put it off until after the season. And, oh-by-the-way, even with all the dropped passes, he led the league in touchdown receptions.


His next season in Dallas, he set a Cowboys single season record for touchdown reception, and literally cried in support of Tony Romo after a playoff loss when the entire football world was pinning the defeat on Romo for a first-round-bye-trip to Mexico with Jessica Simpson.



The topic is T.O.’s behavior, but I just wanted to take a moment to remind everyone how special of a player he is. In franchise history, the Ravens have had one receiver catch more than 10 touchdown passes in a season. (Michael Jackson in 1996) T.O. has caught 10 or more touchdowns in eight different seasons, including his one full season in Phily, and all three years in Dallas. In fact, Owens caught 38 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Cowboys, which is eight more than any reciever in Ravens’ history. Todd Heap is actually the only Batlimore reciever to have caught even 20 touchdowns IN HIS RAVEN’S CAREER. But again, this blog isn’t about how good he is, it’s about how good he acts during his first season with a new team. Let’s get back to that.


The part of this whole saga that really puzzles me is that we just saw this exact scenario play out in another sport. Manny Ramirez, who is baseball’s version of T.O., was a pain in the Red Sox’s neck for years. Do you remember the water bottle in his back pocket? Ducking into the green monster during pitching changes? How about the time he was too sick to play, too sick to pinch hit, but healthy enough to meet his buddy Enrique Wilson in the hotel bar after the game? As a player, Manny is borderline immortal. He was a huge component of Boston winning its first title in almost a century. Remember, he was the World Series MVP in 2004.  Even with all that, it didn’t stop the Sox from putting him on waivers almost every off-season. Also, don’t forget, when Arod agreed to be traded to Boston it was Manny heading out to Texas. If the players union hadn’t nixed the deal due to alterations in Arod’s contract, Manny would have been a Ranger.


Then, after helping bring another World Series title to Boston and being taken in as the city’s clown prince with the phrase “Manny being Manny” being spun like a campaign slogan, Mr. Ramirez pulled the ultimate; insubordination. He refused to play. After telling manager Terry Francona he couldn’t play because of a bad knee, Francona told the post-game press crew, “no one knew his knee was even bothering him.” Manny eventually admitted to quitting on the Red Sox. Boston was forced to trade him, and they did, as everyone knows, to the Dodgers.


Then, what was the media saying? What was Joe Torre going to get in his new left fielder? Consensus among the baseball world was Mr. Torre would get “the best player he’d ever had.” For two months, with a contract looming, Manny would try to prove the world wrong, showing he wasn’t a bad guy, and putting up numbers like few people not named Manny could ever dream of. In 53 games as a Dodger, he hit 17 home runs and drove in 53 runs. His batting average was .396, his on base percentage was .489, and his slugging percentage was .743. And all this, while being protected in the lineup by the likes of Russell Martin, James Loney and Nomar Garciaparra. Yes, Manny went to Los Angeles, knew he needed to keep his mouth shut and perform, and he did.


T.O. did the same thing when he went to Phily and to Dallas, at least for a while. Do you really think he won’t do it again? I do, especially if they’re winning.


I will agree, that if the Bills find themselves 2-5, #81 might be a problem. But how bad can he tear a team apart who’s 2-5 five and already missing the playoffs nine straight years? I also realize that in this department, the Ravens and the Bills are at different levels. The Ravens do have something to be ruined, and the Bills don’t. But you watch, T.O. will do no ruining in 2009, unless you’re talking about opposing secondary’s. And that’s something the Raven’s don’t have; a receiver who can change the game. They could have had one, and rather cheaply, but they don’t. It’s going to be hard to get past the Steelers without one.