Terrell Owens is a great player. Terrell Owens is a terrible teammate. He was that in San Francisco. He is that in Philadelphia. The Eagles thought T.O. would be worth the trouble, and he would have been if they'd won the Super Bowl last February. But they didn't, and now he isn't worth the trouble, or even a seat on the bus headed for Washington.
The Eagles indefinitely suspended Owens yesterday for "conduct detrimental to the team" and there's no way Owens or his representatives or his publicist or his people or his sycophants can logically argue anything to the contrary. Actually, "detriment" sort of sugarcoats it. Owens has behaved like a bum toward the team's quarterback and franchise player, Donovan McNabb, for months. Though Owens once had some support among a few teammates, lately he'd become only poison in the locker room. No agenda was as important as T.O.'s agenda, not even winning. He can dance and strut and trash the teammate most responsible for the team's four-year run of success, then say that anybody who doesn't spend every waking moment celebrating T.O. is classless and low-rent.
The folks who suspended Owens shouldn't spend one minute agonizing over the decision. A player who thinks he and his publicist should chart the course of the team has to be thrown overboard, and no team with a speck of pride, not to mention ambition, can allow a fool like T.O. to take the team hostage with his idiot theatre every few weeks. Taking an offseason jab at McNabb, stupid as it was, is one thing, but publicly attacking the quarterback during the season is unforgivable. The Eagles, by rule, can suspend this clown for only four games, but they can sit him for as long as he's on the roster by simply making him inactive.
In case you tuned out for a couple of days, here's why you won't see T.O. at FedEx Field when the Eagles play the Redskins tonight:
Earlier in the week, T.O. declared himself "doubtful" for this week's game, only to practice a day later. He found time to agree with ESPN analyst and former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin that the Eagles would be undefeated this season if they only had Brett Favre of the 1-6 Green Bay Packers at quarterback.
Irvin can say whatever he wants; he's paid to give his opinion. T.O., one would think, is paid to support McNabb, who is playing despite suffering from a sports hernia that will require surgery, a bruised chest, bruised shin and injured ribs. See, if T.O. is injured everybody should be supportive and serenade him for playing hurt. If a teammate is injured? Trash him.
I asked T.O. late this summer what McNabb had done to earn this constant criticism and of course T.O. had no reasonable answer. Turns out McNabb, over the summer, had welcomed T.O. into his home in Arizona for offseason workouts, taken him in like a dear friend. T.O. ate the food off McNabb's table prepared by his wife and mother, then ripped him at every turn.
T.O., plain and simple, is a bum.
Publicly attacking your quarterback for no good reason -- it's probably QB envy, when you consider T.O. did the same thing to Jeff Garcia -- is in and of itself detrimental to the team. Publicly trashing the team because it didn't stop a game to celebrate your 100th touchdown reception (never mind that 81 of them came with 49ers) is both detrimental and the height of egomania. "Had it been somebody else," T.O. told ESPN, "they probably would have popped fireworks around the stadium."
That was Thursday.
T.O. apologized on Friday.
Actually, T.O. read an apology before the TV cameras on Friday.
The Eagles, tired of his act and unimpressed with his bogus apology, suspended him yesterday.
Look, most of this stuff, particularly the midweek antics of receivers like T.O. and Chad Johnson, amounts to not much more than divas strutting, guys with a good sense of marketing themselves, trying to get the attention that usually goes to quarterbacks. But T.O. has gone so far beyond that now, telling the club to consult his own personal publicist, making a nuisance of himself. Sean Salisbury, the ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback, yesterday called Owens, "not just a cancer, he's a terminal cancer."
Undoubtedly, some folks will say that the Eagles should simply let T.O. play regardless of what he says, that the club knew exactly what it was getting, that his production through seven games projects to a full season of 107 catches and 1,744 receiving yards, which would both be career highs and make him the team's only real offensive weapon.
And that's all true. But the Eagles, coming off last year's run to the Super Bowl, are 4-3 because they can't run, because their defense is shaky enough to allow 49 points last week, and because McNabb is hurting. T.O., as prolific as his numbers are, isn't the solution to any of those problems.
And the last thing a struggling team needs is what amounts to a traitor, a player so selfish he's happy to take a bow and do a jig even while his team is struggling. Probably, nothing could make all of Philadelphia happier than beating the Redskins without Owens, and as unlikely as it seems, the Eagles will have to be better off without him.