Trust us, T.O., Baltimore is your kind of sports town

March 11, 2004|By Kevin Cowherd

HEY, TERRELL OWENS - it's about time to end the soap opera, isn't it?

That's right, we're talking about this obsession to play wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles instead of the Ravens, which would deny you the golden opportunity of getting to know Baltimore, the Paris of the mid-Atlantic region.

Frankly, T.O., this infatuation with the Eagles is kind of puzzling.

Oh, Philly is an OK town. They have a pretty good zoo, and it's not a bad place to stop if you want a cheese-steak sandwich and a cold Yuengling and a break from the traffic on the Schuykill Expressway.

But after that, what've you got?

Independence Hall and a lot of old paintings of Ben Franklin? Yawn. A big copper bell with a crack in it? Double-yawn.

That art museum where Rocky ran up the steps? Zzzz, that's it, I'm officially asleep.

Terrell, here in Baltimore, we've got tourist attractions that are way sexier than that.

We'll show you where our former police commissioner, Easy Ed Norris, used to dine on steaks as big as manhole covers and shack up with girlfriends on the taxpayers' dime.

You can tour the route our former city schools' chief, Carmen Russo, took while being chauffeured around by her $100,000-a-year driver.

We might even show you the black hole where all the city school money went - providing anyone ever finds the hole.

Here's another thing about playing in Philly, Terrell: The fans are tough. Brutal, really. It's like playing in front of 60,000 chain-gang guards every Sunday.

I know Philly's supposed to be "the City of Brotherly Love." But drop a touchdown pass or strike out with the bases loaded or miss an 18-foot jump shot at the buzzer to lose a game and you won't be feeling the love, Terrell.

Are you kidding? The fans will follow you home and shoot your dog.

Look at all the great players they've booed in Philly: Donovan McNabb, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Charles Barkley, Julius Erving.

I know, I know ... how could you boo Dr. J?! The sweetest, classiest guy on Earth. It's like booing Gandhi. But they did.

Look, they even booed Michael Irvin, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, as he lay temporarily paralyzed on the Veterans Stadium turf after a play.

Then they booed the paramedics who took him off on a stretcher.

Hell, they even booed Santa Claus. Honest. You could look it up, Terrell.

This was the famous incident at an Eagles game in 1968. The Eagles hired a guy to dress up as Santa and entertain the crowd at halftime. Big mistake.

This was another one of those games where the Eagles were terrible and the crowd was drunk, which is basically any Eagles game, isn't it?

Anyway, the crowd booed Santa. Then they pelted him with snowballs. Luckily, he didn't get beaned with a beer bottle, although it wasn't from a lack of effort on the fans' part.

Now get this, T.O. At a 76ers game last year, they brought that same Santa back - his name's Frank Olivo and he's 56 now.

They dressed him in a Santa costume, introduced him to the big crowd at the Wachovia Center.

And guess what?

The crowd booed him again!

Is that a tough town or what, Terrell?

And if they boo Santa, you know they'll be all over you if you do any of that stuff that's earned you a reputation as a world-class - you'll forgive me here - head case.

Cussing out teammates and coaches on the sidelines, running to midfield after a touchdown and slamming the ball on the other team's logo, whipping out Sharpie pens and signing the ball after you score - nah, they won't go for that stuff in Philly.

But we love head cases here in Baltimore, T.O.!

And we've had quite a few of them.

Albert Belle, our last major-league head case, used to give Oriole fans the finger and chase Halloween trick-or-treaters in his truck.

Why, we even had a head-case team owner, Bob Irsay, who used to get liquored up and fly from one city to another shopping the Colts as if they were a Wendy's franchise.

So your celebrating a touchdown by grabbing pom-poms and joining the cheerleaders - why, that would barely make a notes column in the next day's newspaper.

The fact is, T.O., with your knack for creating controversy, you'd fit right in with the Ravens.

Think about it. We've got a middle linebacker, Ray Lewis, who was tried for murder just a few years ago.

An ex-running back, Dameon Deshaun Hunter, is wanted for a kidnapping that ended with a naked guy, bleeding from a gunshot wound, showing up in Cal Ripken's yard.

And we've got a current running back, Jamal Lewis, who was just indicted on federal drug charges.

Compared to those guys, you'll look like a choir boy.

Please say you'll come, T.O.

The fun might never end.

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