Tell me he’s not exactly what the Ravens need on the field: a big receiver, who makes plays. I know he’s older and not as good as he used to be, but hasn’t he’s still led the NFL in receiving yards since 2004? And in general, he’s loved in the locker room, at least by some of the guys. The reason he divided locker rooms is because many of his teammates, both in Phily and in Dallas, agreed with what he was saying. I’ve never met the man, but in general he seems like a bubbly, personable, productive football player. And again, he plays a position the Ravens could surely use and upgrade.
You think these types of receivers aren’t important? Just drive up I-95 and see how even the Giants GM has said they would take Plaxico back. No, the Ravens need someone like T.O., and here’s how to do it.
He would only get a one year deal. (And when you look, historically, he has been a Boy Scout for his first season) In his contract, you stipulate that he can have one weekly press conference with the media. Something like Wednesday, so he has time to simmer down from the weekend. Don’t allow radio interviews, or let him answer any questions at his locker after practices or games. These are the things that get him in trouble. If you could avoid that, you’d be golden.
So have the contract stipulate that any talking to the media at anything other than his own, personal, weekly press conference would result in a hefty fine. A second offense would result in his release.
I know people will say “you can’t do that.” I think you can. You can put lots of things in contracts. If you can stipulate that a player can’t ride a four-wheeler or skydive, I would think you could limit his talking to the press. Maybe the NFL would have a problem with this, but I’m not sure they would. It’s not like they can demand players to talk to the media. Some players don’t talk after losses. Some guys barely talk at all. Didn’t Sterling Sharpe stop talking to reporters? I think Duane Thomas went a whole season and didn’t speak to anybody. Now, that was almost 40 years ago. Maybe the NFL has changed, but if you’re the NFL, ask yourself this? “Are we, as a league, better off with or without Terrell Owens”? I’m not saying the league wouldn’t survive without him, because it obviously would, but it doesn’t mean the product would be as good. Baseball isn’t better without Barry Bonds, but no team will sign Barry because no one wants to put up with the distraction. Well, Barry distractions would included lawyers, FBI agents, and the fact that many of his teammates will want to punch him in the face by the All-Star break. With T.O. you never get the sense that guys want to punch him. They just want him to shut up, so the contract will stipulate that.
The other thing people will say is “he’ll never agree to it.” And you know what? Maybe he won’t. But, after he sees what kind of offers he gets, or doesn’t get, maybe he will. Remember, he’s going to the Hall of Fame. If you sell him on the fact that the Ravens have a chance to get him back to the Super Bowl, and he could go out as the valiant knight riding off on his white horse, he might go for it. Really, if it comes down to sitting out, signing with the Lions, or taking the Ravens “stay away from reporters” contract, which do you think he’d choose?
Three more thought about this. One is, if there was ever a locker room personality that could tell T.O. to “sit down and shut up before I sit you down and shut you up” it would be Ray-Ray. Without Ray Lewis, I wouldn’t be as excited to make this offer, but with #52 around, I’m not worried about the locker room. Again, since it will be T.O.’s first season with the club, I don’t think there would be any problems, but if one started, Ray would quickly put it out.
Number two; I know T.O. and Ozzie have had some issues. Bury the hatchet and move on.
Lastly, remember a few years ago when Randy Moss was such a bad guy he got traded for a fourth round pick. Moss fought with his quarterback in Minnesota, he admittedly dogged it in Oakland, and no one wanted him; no one, except Brett Favre, and New England. The Patriots got him. Do you think they’re regretted it for a minute? You think now the Ravens wish they’d have offered a fourth round pick for Mr. Moss?
The Ravens have a missing piece, and they’ve had it for years. T.O. fills that void. It’s a risk, but it’s one I would seriously think about taking.