Spree pundits opine on the local
Mar 11, 2010
07:59 AMState of Play
T.O. moves on—but where to?
Just like that, before he was able to warm his seat and order appetizers, the Terrell Owens era of Buffalo Bills football is over. (Jeez, Marshawn Lynch didn't even have a chance to swipe the 20-spot his ex-teammate left for the waitress!)
Not that you couldn't see it coming, but T.O. is unceremoniously exiting Buffalo. Maybe you heard about him heading off to the bright lights, glitz and glamor of, um, Cincinnati. Didn't you get that Tweet? No? Never mind.
While it's not a shocker Owens will write his script for Act V elsewhere, I'm still somewhat gobsmacked the Bills bet $6 million worth of chips with such a weak hand to sign him last February. Yes, Owens was running out of "name" teams to take his act, his reputation as a quarterback-killer and locker room beubonic plague firmly cemented.
It's obvious he and agent Drew Rosenhaus had a shrewd, one-year plan in the works: grab the cash from a desperate bettor, behave and try to put up some respectable numbers, and then cash in on one last bloated contract as the NFL's Fort Knox organizations hand them out like Halloween candy, no longer burdened by that pesky salary cap in 2010.
They found a gullibly willful suitor in the Bills, hoping to energize a loyal but lullabied fan base with a stroke of pure gimmickry that would make its faithful feel like they're still welcome at the Cool Kids table in the NFL cafeteria; that Buffalo remains an attractive destination for high-profile free agents. It was a textbook marketing move from a textbook marketing guy, Russ Brandon.
Only the most delusional among us took the bait, but the rest of us also drank the Kool-Aid in the hopes Owens could awaken the slumbering quarterback lost somewhere inside Trent Edwards' concussed head, and perhaps also to allow Lee Evans to spread his wings and assert himself among the league's elite deep threats. The move failed on both counts, of course.
To be fair, Owens held up his end of the bargain as best he could. He never blasted teammates or coaches, never had that classic T.O. postgame meltdown. Yes, he did mail it in by season's end, but a lot of other Bills had done the same. He even made some exhilarating plays, albeit few and far in between. One of them was a long TD catch in Tennessee, although Titans owner Bud Adams stole his thunder that day by showing off his twin birds to Buffalo fans.
And there are two T.O. memories we'll always cherish: his franchise record-setting, 103-yard TD catch in Jacksonville and his game-clinching scoring reception in Orchard Park against the Dolphins. Hell, we'd put Pol Pot up on our shoulders and parade him off the field if he helped Buffalo beat Miami.
In hindsight, maybe the one-year deal worked well for both sides. The Bills must've had more than an inkling they were making a misstep in signing Owens to a deal, but it was only for one season, sparing the franchise from having to drag around a multimillion-dollar millstone for the long term. As for Owens, he's shown he still has something left to offer and he's free to sign a long-term deal somewhere else.
He'd be a good fit in Cincy, whose passing attack has lacked the Yin to Ochocinco's Yang ever since T. J. Houshmanzadeh fled, Chris Henry died and Laveranues Coles flopped. They've already signed former Jaguars wideout Matt Jones (insert snorting sound here) and Antonio Bryant, so why not make it a prima donna foursome? And here you thought the Bengals couldn't sink lower in the team discipline department.
The Cardinals, bereft of offensive stalwarts Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin, might consider taking a flier on T.O. How about Chicago, which is doling out cash like Colin Farrell in Amsterdam's Red Light District?
Normally, no team in its right mind would be seeking out a thirty-six-year-old wideout with precipitously declining skills; a lousy teammate with an even lousier attitude who has historically turned on his fellow troops at the first sign of trouble. But, as you might've read, there will be no salary cap in this final year of the expiring deal with the Players Association. Cue the floodgates for high rollers who can afford a free-agent "miss" and spend however they see fit.
The T.O. Show will undoubtedly surface elsewhere in August, whether on VH-1 or Cincinnati public access. But, just as in Buffalo, don't expect it to live up to the hype.