Who will want Owens now?

NFL Week


One of the most curious aspects of the Terrell Owens debacle is that neither he nor his overreaching agent could see the damage they were doing to the narcissistic wide receiver's career.

Continually blasting a teammate and Pro Bowl quarterback? Shouting down coaches? Calling out the locker room?

If the goal was to commit professional suicide, Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus nearly achieved it. Because when the Philadelphia Eagles finally turn Owens loose -- either at an arbitrator's directive or on their own timetable -- he's going to find a very cautious marketplace in which to peddle his services.

Early speculation has centered on the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons as teams that might be interested.

But one thing seems increasingly clear: Whichever team Owens goes to will dictate terms, and the terms won't be in Owens' favor. He will never see the fanciful contract he once deserved. He probably will become a rent-a-receiver, serving short-term stays.

Owens will hit 32 next month and even for an athlete in the remarkable condition he's in, the window for playing at a dominating level is going to close before long.

Apparently at Rosenhaus' direction, Owens badly overplayed his hand in trying to force a new contract from the Eagles this season.

"That's the wrong organization to back into a corner from a public forum," Fox analyst Howie Long said last week during a teleconference. "It was evident the last [few] days they never anticipated Philadelphia calling their bluff."

Said fellow Fox analyst Daryl Johnston: "The biggest mistake he made, he was fighting all his battles through the media. ... Team is family. You're supposed to keep everything in-house. It was unfortunate that T.O. allowed everybody in this country to be an inside spectator."

Imagine the circus at his next stop. Everyone will be waiting for the incendiary remark or the sideline blowup. Even his teammates will be waiting.

"If I was a general manager, I don't care if he wanted to come in and play for the league minimum, I would not have him in my locker room," said injured New England Patriot Rodney Harrison. "I wouldn't want him around my organization, my city or anything. I would not welcome him. I do not respect him. I think he's a selfish jerk. All he thinks about is money and himself."

Even some desperate teams won't be desperate enough to risk taking on Owens.

"He's almost dismantled the Eagles," said Houston Texans owner Robert McNair. "Why would you wish that on us? I've already got enough problems. Some things can overcome talent, and he's figured out how to do that. Football's a team sport and when a player thinks he's more important than the team, it's just not going to work. ... We don't need a disruptive influence like that."

Who does? Who will take the chance?

"I think it's too early [to speculate] who might bring him in," said Jimmy Johnson on the Fox conference. "No. 1, the head coach will have to be the final decision-maker on this. [But] the owner might step in and say `We don't want this baggage on the team,' or the quarterback might say, `I don't want this guy.'

"It's easier to pick out the teams that won't touch him."

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