You can ask for more money. You can hatch a plan to be so ornery and unapproachable in training camp that your coach sends you home. You can try to convince America that $6 million a year is genuinely difficult to get by on.
But you cannot keep publicly insulting your Pro Bowl quarterback, the man who won two playoff games without you, the player most responsible for taking your ungrateful mug to the Super Bowl.
T.O., it's time to go.
Terrell Owens is an egocentric, all-about-me, Donovan McNabb-dissing, ESPN-hissy-fitting, no-concept-of-the-real-world clown of a professional athlete. Drew Rosenhaus, his paid ventriloquist, is a geek-chic, tattered-jeans-wearing, money-grubbing, $49-million-is-not-enough-formy-client-whining cretin of an agent.
And I can't wait till they are both on television again, making their entertaining, if sorry, case to the viewing public.
Show T.O. the money.
Cuba Gooding Jr. could play Owens. Tom Cruise could play Rosenhaus. With each new "revelation" of disrespect from Owens, each "bombshell" of an utterance from Rosenhaus -- "He doesn't want to be a distraction, but his heart was broken" -- they both had me at hello.
Pennant races, the PGA Championship and a docket of NFL preseason games pass for good theater this weekend. But the daily implosion of the Philadelphia Eagles is better.
"He only has $12 million" over the first two years of his contract, Rosenhaus said, sitting next to the Philadelphia Eagles' Pro Bowl wide receiver on a couch Thursday night, outlining the contract dispute and fallout that has become the most riveting story of the preseason.
Only $12 million? Poor Owens. What's a petulant Pro Bowler to do but force his coach, Andy Reid, to kick him out of training camp on Wednesday, which turned out to be a great negotiating opportunity for Owens?
Owens has since gone on a promotional tour, divulging his unhappiness to cameras waiting to capture every slight, every new bombshell. You can't make this silliness up.
Disheveled, Flintstonesque interviewer at halftime of the Green Bay-San Diego game on ESPN Thursday night:
"You and Donovan McNabb, can you guys succeed in this climate?"
Owens: "I don't think so, and I'm just being honest."
On his comeback from injury to play in the Super Bowl: "I still stayed strong in what I believed in, stayed strong and performed."
Disheveled, Flintstonesque interviewer: [Interjecting] "No, you were a hero."
Who knew Walt Disney's original vision would one day evolve into Al-Jazeera for Athletes?
Beyond the money issue, the McNabb-Owens feud is growing in animosity. Soon, it will be of Kobe-Shaq quality.
McNabb, the Eagles' quarterback, held a news conference yesterday, firing back at Owens while also allowing a speck of room for reconciliation. He said he could go without talking to Owens for a full season, if need be. McNabb tried to play it off, likening the spat to "The Days of Our Lives." He smiled a lot, earnestly answered questions about his relationship with Owens and, on all fronts, came across much better than his teammate. But he was putting on an act.
You could see through McNabb's carefree veneer. Underneath, he was seething. Owens questioned his heart after the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots and their relationship has been nonexistent since. You don't publicly embarrass the leader of your team without repercussions, and the guess here is that the Eagles will find someone to take Owens off their hands.
All this insider knowledge about how no one will take Owens? Don't listen. Remember, it's sports. Everybody is redeemable, even a guy who blindsides his own quarterbacks.
Contract posturing is normal, part of the preseason landscape. And Rosenhaus is actually doing what every good agent should, framing the argument to benefit his client. When you look at the money other top receivers are making over the next two years, Owens is grossly underpaid. But he didn't sign a two-year deal. He signed a seven-year, $49 million deal with Philadelphia last year that includes $9.2 million in guaranteed money. By NFL standards, that's not bad.
That's a better deal than receivers such as Joe Horn (six years, $41 million) and Torry Holt (seven years, $42 million) signed. Does Owens have a gripe when it comes to the deals of Indianapolis's Marvin Harrison (eight years, $72.5 million) and Oakland's Randy Moss (eight years, $75 million)? Yes.
But no one forced Owens to sign with the Eagles. He was about to win an arbitration hearing and gain free agency. The NFL Players Association advised him against signing the contract with the Eagles. But Owens didn't listen. So he brought Rosenhaus in to undo his own malfeasance, $49 million being chump change.
But Rosenhaus has few options. This is what the Ricky Williams situation hath wrought. A year ago, the Dolphins running back left the team -- and an arbitrator soon ordered him to repay $8.6 million in bonus money.
By making himself a complete nuisance in camp, Owens brilliantly orchestrated his own departure. Notice how Rosenhaus kept saying over and over Thursday that Owens had every intention of honoring his contract. Because if he doesn't, the Eagles have a nice precedent to help them recoup that bonus money.
Reid kicked Owens out of camp after an oral altercation between the two. Reid told Owens to "Shut up," and Owens shot back. "I said, 'My name is Terrell Owens, not Terrell Reid. My mom had me.' I am not a son of his. He was ultimately disrespectful. So I returned that."
Before McNabb, Owens skewered Jeff Garcia, his quarterback in San Francisco. At one point, he implied Garcia was gay. Owens doesn't burn bridges; he detonates them.
This whole affair is the adult equivalent of a child holding his breath in front of his parents until they agree to give him ice cream. But Owens's pursuit of more money is much more damaging. He insults his co-workers, belittles them for his own benefit.
The money issue can be resolved. Killing McNabb with criticism cannot. The damage is done, and it's irreparable.
Say goodbye to Terrell Owens, Philly; T.O. must go.