NFL Nation: Bills-Patriots 092109

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Terrell Owens has had a love-hate relationship with the media over the years, but things have taken another nasty turn this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Poor Terrell Owens.

In 20 years of covering sports, I've never come across a media phenomenon like T.O. Nothing can compare to the drama he causes -- partially self-inflicted, partially media-driven, wholly audience-demanded.

In the six months he has been a Buffalo Bill, I've been exposed to the madness.

I was the guy who asked Owens about Michael Vick back in July. What unraveled afterward was astounding to me. I was given a glimpse at what Owens has dealt with over the years. I felt badly for what he endures.

Reaction was intense. Commentators bellowed that Owens couldn't help himself, suggesting he walked to the microphone and read from a prepared statement to rail against NFL injustice. Fans exploded on the media for badgering Owens into answering controversial questions.

Neither was the case. I simply asked a prominent football player what his opinion was on a national issue, and he graciously provided it without any animus. Owens seemed genuinely appreciative the topic had been broached. We chatted about his new cleats afterward.

Three weeks ago, I defended Owens' sense of humor when he jokingly told New England Patriots reporters on a conference call that he didn’t like Buffalo's no-huddle offense. Some outlets turned his off-handed comment into headlines that declared Owens hated the no-huddle.

On Sunday, I asked Owens questions at a news conference minutes after his streak of 185 games with at least one reception was snapped in a 27-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Now Owens is acting like a victim, and this time I don't feel one bit moved.

On Sporting News Radio, Owens told "Two Live Stews" co-hosts Doug and Ryan Stewart the media is out to get him. Owens claimed we're trying to goad him into throwing teammates under the bus.

Not nearly. With the questionable decisions being made by the Bills' front office and head coach Dick Jauron, we don't need his help to identify culprits.

What we want from Owens is his opinion. As a player who gladly acts larger than life, is cashing paychecks for $6.5 million this year, induced thousands of fans to plunk down hard-earned money for tickets to watch him perform and has so far been mostly irrelevant on the field, Owens' comments are germane.

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