Terrell Owens was, and is, one of the most examined and scrutinized athletes of all time. Whether it was the way he boastfully celebrated after a touchdown, or the time he conducted an interview with the lack of a shirt in his own driveway while doing sit ups, Terrell Owens was, and will always be under a microscope.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 225 pound physical specimen shattered NFL records throughout his 15 year career. Owens is third all time in receiving yards, third all time in receiving touchdowns. Owens is also the only receiver ever to be selected first team all-pro three times with three different quarterbacks.
So why was Terrell Owens forced to wait 2 years for the hall of fame? Many people believe that the hall of fame committee was making Owens wait because he was perceived as a loud, egotistical showboat that cared more about his stats than winning.
Here is a quote from Dan Fouts before Owens was finally elected to the hall of fame, one of the 48 person committee responsible for voting on the Players for the Hall of Fame, that proves that, via The Midway 180 in Nashville Tennessee,
“I think his numbers are very worthy, but again on the other side of it, I think his actions on and off the field, on the sidelines, in the locker room, and the fact he played for so many teams and was such a great player, the question that comes back to me is if he was such a great player, why did so many of those teams get rid of him? And I think that we all know the reason why.”
A braggadocious wide out that celebrates too much can get on your nerves, but it still isn’t any reason to hold them out of the hall of fame. It’s the way the media perceived him as a bad teammate that cried when the ball wasn’t thrown his way that has had the biggest impact on his hall of fame chances.
When the name Terrell Owens comes up in a debate instead of talking about his achievements and accolades the debate switches to how much of an egotistical maniac he was. But, maybe the public perception is wrong. What if the teams that sent Owens packing are the ones that made the mistake?
The first incident with the 49ers and Owens I was amassed with the lack of support a player received from his coach, and vice versa the lack of trust a player had in his coach.
The Lack of support and distrust started mostly after Terrell Owens’s Dallas star incident. Head Coach Steve Mariucci said that Owens showed no respect for the integrity of the game, and chewed him out in the locker room after the game.
Mariucci preached, “we will never win like that.” The Funny thing is the only game the 49ers won in the first four weeks of that season was that game. So maybe Mariucci was letting his own values come before team success, something the media criticized Owens of doing, but seemed to have a double standard with Mariucci.
After the dilemma Owens believed his team and coach didn’t have his back, stating, “I felt betrayed, because I didn’t have the support of the head coach.” The Dallas star incident drew no suspension from the league, and during the game the refs only gave Terrell a 15 yard taunting penalty.
However, Mariucci believed it validated a suspension. This angered Owens even more that his own coach would turn his back on him and damage their relationship beyond repair.
For the next three years the 49ers battled with turmoil in the locker room with Terrell Owens and Mariucci at each other’s throats. But, still managed to win their division once and make the playoffs twice.
After back-to-back seasons making the playoffs the 49ers were looking to get back to the playoffs in 2003, but after a 1-3 start people began pointing fingers again. Owens pointed his finger right at the man throwing him the ball, Jeff Garcia, and the man running the team, Steve Mariucci.
Owens even publicly vouched for backup quarterback Tim Rattay to replace Garcia. After the season the 49ers traded Owens believing they would be a better football team without him, but that was far from the truth.
During Owens’s eight years in San Francisco, when he had 0-2 receptions the 49ers’ winning percentage was 55%, and when he had 3-6 receptions the winning percentage was 58%, and when he had 7 or more receptions the winning percentage was over 61%.
So the media was wrong, the reason the 49ers were losing was not that Owens was crying for the ball, but instead the reason they were losing was the 49ers didn’t get Owens the ball.
To reinforce the point more, the 49ers finished last in their division the first two years without Owens, and even owned the league’s worst record one of those two years.
Terrell’s second career hiccup involved the Philadelphia Eagles and Donovan McNabb. After 3 straight seasons of losing in the NFC championship game the Eagles finally tried to make the move to push them over the edge by trading for the electrifying and pompous wideout.
The first play with Terrell Owens on the field, McNabb hurled a 81 yard bomb to Owens for a touchdown. All signs pointed to a marriage made in heaven with everyone retiring on a beach in Cancun sipping pina coladas out of coconuts counting their championship rings.
However, not everything is as good as it seems. During Owens’s first season with the Eagles the team was a league best 13-1 firing on all cylinders, and then out of nowhere Roy Williams shattered the honeymoon by snapping Owens’s leg during a tackle in week 15.
Owens was expected to be out for 10 weeks and miss the remainder of the season. Without Owens the Eagles lost their last two games of the regular season and limped into the playoffs.
When the playoffs started not many gave the Eagles a chance without Owens, but the Eagles still managed to make the super bowl that year. A game many thought Owens had no chance of playing in because of his broken leg.
Terrell Owens had many doubters when he said he was going to play in the Super Bowl, but he proved them all wrong while playing on one leg. Owens snatched nine passes for 122 yards and was the eagles best player in a close 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots.
After the Super Bowl Owens accused McNabb of being out of shape after McNabb threw up in the huddle during the game. McNabb said he had no comment on the incident, but it appeared that the game drove a wrench in his and Owens’ relationship.
The following year Owens only played 7 seven games before being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team after he publicly voiced his displeasure with the Eagles organization after they refused to give him a new contract.
The Eagles were 4-3 before Owens was suspended, but finished 6-10 without him, although, it must be noted that Donovan McNabb was injured for 7 games.
During Owens’s time with the eagles, the Eagles went 17-4 with him, and 2-9 without him. The Eagles played in five NFC championship games from 2000-2008 losing four of them. The only championship game they won was the season they had Owens.
When Owens was on the field with the Eagles they had a 81% chance of winning, but without him the percentage plummeted to 18%, so maybe, just maybe, they should have given him that new contract.
The Third and finally incident was with the Cowboys. The big drama in big D was Owens, wait for it, didn’t believe he was getting the ball enough.
The media responded with the same old narrative that Terrell Owens is again destroying a team by crying for the ball. But only if the cowboys would have listened to him, because when Owens had 0-2 receptions the cowboys were the equivalent of Jeff Fisher’s coaching record with a 50% winning percentage.
When Terrell Owens had 3-6 receptions the cowboys winning percentage jumped to 60%, but even more staggering when they gave him the ball 7 or more times, they became an elite team bordering on legendary. They dominated their opponents with an 83% winning percentage. To put that into perspective the patriots winning percentage in the Brady-Belichick era was 77%.
So in all three incidents Terrell Owens was blamed for his team’s struggles, but in all three he was right. Owens may have been arrogant, self centered, and even egotistical, but he was right. And in the NFL being right is all that matters.
The 49ers became the worst team in the league without Terrell Owens. The eagles couldn’t make the super bowl without Owens, and the first year they acquired Owens They made it to the big game. The Cowboys could have been on the Patriots level of dominance and success if they made sure Owens received his touches.
So don’t believe the media’s narrative that Owens was a cry baby that cared more about his stats than winning. Because if it is winning that the media wanted, all they had to do was agree with Owens. And tell his teams, and quarterbacks, just throw him the damn ball.