Single page view By Skip Bayless
Page 2

This is for the army of T.O. worshippers that have attacked my e-mail over the last few weeks.

This is also for Terrell Owens himself.

Sorry, Himself.


No, I am not "hiding" from Owens, as many e-mailers, with particularly vile and cowardly language, have accused me of doing. They claim that Owens Himself has fired back at me in responses to chat room questions on his Web site, saying I don't have the, uh, guts to face him on television. I hear that Owens likes to cyberchat like that with his idolaters, but I don't know for sure and I don't care exactly what he has or hasn't said about me.

And I refuse to visit his cybershrine.

But I now publicly offer Terrell Owens an open invitation to join me on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" to discuss and debate any or all of my criticism of him. Any weekday between 8 and 10 a.m. Eastern. Just the two of us, one on one. Owens can have the first and last word on every issue.

Nothing will be off limits.

Yes, I've been tough on Owens. But no, I don't have a single second thought about a single word I've said or written about the guy.

In fact, astute Eagles fans are surely starting to agree with me. They're starting to see the real Owens -- the one I closely observed during his final three years with the San Francisco 49ers, the one who was despised by many of his teammates.

So to all of you -- and to him -- I say: Any weekday, any time.

I'll even telegraph my punches. I'll tell you -- and him -- exactly what I want to get into.

We can begin with our history. Through the first year I wrote about him, I was his lone supporter among Bay Area media members. I defended Owens in his clashes with then-coach Steve Mariucci and constantly reminded readers and talk-show listeners that Owens kept himself in bodybuilder shape, that he avoided off-field trouble and that, according to 49ers adviser and coaching legend Bill Walsh, Owens knew the offense as well as the quarterbacks did.

Back in early February, Skip Bayless wrote that T.O. had already won the MVP, even before the Super Bowl. And last November, Skip warned Philly fans that only when the chips are down will you see the real T.O. Alan Grant likes T.O., but wishes he'd stop making bad decisions.
Other media members scoffed at my stance, basically saying, "You'll see." Several 49ers players and front-office staffers pulled me aside and told me I wasn't seeing the real T.O. They said Owens was all about Owens, that he was aloof from and condescending toward teammates, that he always blamed everyone but himself and that he constantly portrayed himself as the victim of phantom plots on the part of coaches or front-office staffers.

Those people surely are laughing now over the predictable problems Owens is causing in Philadelphia.

I defended Owens to the point that a member of his inner sanctum told me I might be T.O.'s choice to write his book.

But I fell out of favor quickly, after that turning-point Monday night in October 2002. That night in Seattle, Owens pulled the Sharpie from his sock to sign a touchdown-catch ball -- and his descent began in San Francisco.



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