Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Why does it always end this way for T.O.?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Attempting to understand/psychoanalyze Terrell Owens has occupied quite a bit of my time since he moved to Dallas in 2006. Our relationship has had its peaks (brief eye contact during a one-on-one interview in training camp) and valleys (when he repeatedly called me a "chump" while his sidekick and former NBA guard Damon Jones looked on).

 
  Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
  Terrell Owens wore out his welcome in Dallas after three seasons.

For obvious reasons, he was an entertaining player to cover over the past three seasons. He could be remarkably charming one minute, surly the next. I've been with him in a couple of social settings over the years, and he came across as extremely gracious. But a week later, he might walk past me in the locker room and mutter an expletive in my direction with no explanation. (Guess that's his version of the comments section).

I thought his accidental overdose during the 2006 season was some sort of cry for help. Owens called it "an allergic reaction." His publicist at the time, the unforgettable Kim Etheredge, cleared up the confusion surrounding the event by suggesting that Owens had "25 million reasons" to continue on with his life. She and T.O.'s diminutive live-in trainer Buddy Primm were soon fired, although Primm would soon make a valiant comeback.

It's too simple to just call T.O. a rat and move on down the road. I've tried that approach, but I think he actually has some admirable qualities. Besides being a future Hall of Famer, he's done a lot of things for his teammates that never get mentioned. When a teammate was released or had a death in the family, the first text message he received was often from T.O.

His best friends on the team have always been the guys at the bottom of the roster. When he was out with an injury during the 2006 training camp, he stayed after practice for an hour each day and worked with free agent rookie wide receiver Sam Hurd. The two became very close and T.O. had similar relationships with guys on the practice squad.

It was always easier to be friends with those players because he didn't feel threatened by them. He and quarterback Tony Romo mugged for cameras together but they rarely spent any time together off the field. He obviously painted tight end Jason Witten as the snitch in Ed Werder's infamous report that suggested Romo and Witten were diagramming plays behind T.O.'s back.

  Can't-Miss Play: Oh Owens!
  NFL.com Video
  Cowboys WR Terrell Owens hauls in a tremendous 33-yard grab from Tony Romo.

Like a lot of us, T.O. has major trust issues. It's almost like he starts a relationship from the basis that it will end poorly -- and you can understand why that might be the case. Over the years, writers have traveled to his hometown to write about how his strict upbringing and lack of a father figure may have contributed to his problems in the NFL. And it's fair to say that all of us have been shaped by our childhood experiences.

But at some point, most of us are asked to act like adults. We may have issues with authority (hear, hear), but to stay employed we have to eventually give in at times. I wasn't in San Francisco or Philly, but in Dallas, T.O. always knew he held the trump card because of his close relationship with Jerry Jones.

He trusted the man completely, in part, because he gave him everything he wanted. When he went behind offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's back, he knew there wouldn't be any consequences. But Jones didn't become a billionaire by ignoring the bottom line.

As much as he loved the headlines that T.O. brought, Jones knew that the player had, in some ways, become bigger than the organization. He'll continue to shoot down the toxic locker-room theory forever, but Jones finally knew that T.O. had to go.

T.O.'s blind devotion to Jones may have caused him to overplay his hand. If forced to choose between a franchise quarterback and an aging wide receiver, you have to make the easy choice. That's what Jones did Wednesday night.

He finally admitted defeat on T.O. I'm sure someone will take a chance on T.O. because of his immense talent.

But things will end badly -- as they always do with this guy.