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Twirling my lasso at John Wayne Airport

3/26/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A few thoughts while I sit in John Wayne Airport, waiting to board my flight back to South Florida after almost a week at the NFL owners' meeting:

  • Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron wondered Tuesday why the media was singling out Terrell Owens and not mentioning the other players who didn't attend the start of the voluntary workout program Monday in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Part of the reason is because I can't think of a single player in the Bills' locker room who can be more influential than Owens when it comes to setting a tone in the locker room.

The Bills aren't exactly loaded down with credentialed players. The Bills had two Pro Bowlers: malcontent left tackle Jason Peters and recidivist running back Marshawn Lynch. Third-year quarterback Trent Edwards likely will express himself more, but the jury is still out.

Owens, meanwhile, is a future Hall of Famer and multiple All-Pro. How Owens carries himself will matter, and the Bills' front office would prefer more enthusiasm.

As with any player, it's Owens' prerogative if he wants to skip voluntary workouts, and that alone shouldn't be held against him. But the Bills would be so much better off if he decided to establish his presence now.

With all Owens has accomplished, he will be a role model to the younger players on the roster. There's significant value in him being around.

  • NFC West blogger Mike Sando noted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady received a $121 stipend from the league's performance-based pay system. Now Brady can renew those magazine subscriptions he was going to trim from his budget.

  • I need to clear my conscience. The idea for the item I wrote Thursday about the NFL's revamped draft-order system was pinched from AFC South baron Paul Kuharsky. I thieved his chart and everything. But there's nothing he can do about it. Nothing.

  • Because of various scheduling issues, the Friday afternoon AFC East chats have been hit or miss since the end of the season. But there will be one at 3 p.m. Friday. Feel free to submit your early questions or comments. Then drop by to fritter away a couple hours you'll never get back.

"It's an interesting thing, preparing to try to be a major contributor to a football team and there's always all the rumors that are floating around," Clemens said. "At times, it can be distracting. I'm not going to lie. It's not something like, 'Oh, Jay could be here, that's great.' You try to ignore it and focus on things under your control.

"I try to dismiss it as best I can, but it's easier said than done."

It's not tough to see where Clemens is coming from. Last year, he had to deal with the fact the Jets didn't think he was good enough to lead them and became an afterthought after the Brett Favre trade. Now he's wondering if a similar scenario will happen all over again.

  • I better head to my gate. Boarding begins in four minutes.