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Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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No one believes Terrell Owens' media conspiracy theory except T.O.

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Owens wonders why he doesn't get a pass, but after so many burned bridges, it's quite obvious. (Getty Images)  
Owens wonders why he doesn't get a pass, but after so many burned bridges, it's quite obvious. (Getty Images)  

It must be good to be Terrell Owens because being Terrell Owens means never having to admit you're wrong.

Before he was dismissed from San Francisco, he said quarterback Jeff Garcia wasn't as talented as he was. Before he was dismissed from Philadelphia, he said quarterback Donovan McNabb couldn't get him the football. Before he was dismissed in Dallas, he said quarterback Tony Romo played favorites, starting with tight end Jason Witten.

So now that he's out of the NFL, Owens has found someone else to blame. Only this time it's the media that chronicled his career, with Owens charging that the press made him into "a fall guy" and persuaded teams not to sign him last season.

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"A lot of general managers bought into the fact that the media thinks I'm this bad guy, this rebel guy, this disruptive guy that divides and messes up team chemistry," he told KESN 103.3 in Dallas. "They won't allow me to turn over a new leaf. Why don't I get a pass?"

Well, maybe it's because he got one for most of his career and, well, now people are just tired of dealing with Terrell Owens ... whoever he is.

All I know is that Terrell Owens is someone who never, ever, ever can admit he's at fault for something that went awry. I mean, this is the guy who once claimed he was misquoted in his own autobiography, for crying out loud. In Terrell Owens' world, when everything is good, it's good because of T.O., and when everything is not he finds the most convenient scapegoat.

In San Francisco, that was Garcia, the Pro Bowl quarterback Owens claimed wasn't up to his standards. When he became a free agent in 2004 he said he might consider re-signing with the club "if the Niners can get a quarterback to match my skills as a receiver" -- and this after he caught a then-NFL-record 20 passes from Garcia in a 2000 defeat of Chicago.

The 49ers suspended him for a week. His next employer, the Philadelphia Eagles, suspended him, too ... for a season. Then they cut him. His next employer, Dallas, didn't suspend him. The Cowboys just let him walk. So did Buffalo after one year. Cincinnati did the same.

Now he's out of the NFL, but apparently not out of excuses. So he turns on the media, and why not? He's guaranteed to make headlines, even though he's buried with the Allen Wranglers of the IFL. Owens is all about attention, and this time he's turning on an audience that has become indifferent to the guy -- hoping to generate something, anything, that makes him relevant again.

Well, it worked. I'm writing about him. But it's more an observation of how far this guy has fallen and how someone, anyone, needs to tell him to confront reality ... even if reality bites. And the reality is that he's a 38-year-old wide receiver who will turn 39 next season, who had a serious knee operation last year, who has diminished skills and who, at the top of his career, was turned out by three teams (San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas) who tired of his me-first antics.

Owens says he is not a divisive guy, yet that's precisely how he was described by a coach who worked with him the past five years. In fact, that coach said Owens was "the most divisive" player he's been around in his coaching career, which, considering the time he spent in the game, is an accomplishment. That dovetails nicely with a description of another of his coaches, who once called Owens "the most disrespectful human being I've been around." Hmmm, sounds just like a guy you want to hire, huh?

But in Owens' world he's not that way because ... well, because he says he's not that way. So who are you going to trust -- the media or him? He says that NFL teams listened to a media that steered them away from Owens, and that's a juicy plot line ... except, if that's the case, why does someone like Adam "Pacman" Jones or Albert Haynesworth keep getting opportunities? They're not exactly media darlings, but last time I checked they were employed by the NFL.

Owens is not, and he can't understand why. It might have something to do with his age. It might have something to do with his skills. It might have something to do with that surgically-repaired knee. My guess? It has something to do with all of that, but it has more to do with just who Terrell Owens is ... and Terrell Owens is not someone I'd want within a hundred miles of my locker room.

So he's talented. Terrific. He's also disruptive ... even though he insists he's not. He's entitled to his opinion, and we're entitled to ours, and just one question: What kind of good teammate excoriates his quarterbacks, all of whom were Pro Bowl performers? The answer: Not a very good one.

Hey, after his greatest moment in Philadelphia -- when he overcame a severely sprained ankle and fractured fibula to catch a team-high nine passes for 122 yards in Super Bowl XXXIX -- Owens found a way to turn good into bad by making a contract demand, boycotting the opening of training camp, then torching coaches and McNabb until coach Andy Reid decided to cut his losses.

Reid not only released Owens ... he let him go to arch-rival Dallas, and that should tell you something. It should also tell you something that when the Cowboys held a news conference to announce his signing, it was owner Jerry Jones who presided. Then-coach Bill Parcells was nowhere to be found, and form your own conclusions.

Terrell Owens was a productive wide receiver, but he was not a very good teammate. And in a team game that can't be tolerated. Only now, Terrell Owens has found out.

Unfortunately, he still doesn't get it.


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