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Saturday, May 12, 2012
Latest T.O. reality show the ultimate cautionary tale

By Jane McManus

Terrell Owens might have learned this week that there is such a thing as too much reality.

After producing his own reality show on VH1 for three seasons, the former NFL wide receiver found out that a Dr. Phil appearance is a lot less scripted. Instead, Owens' lack of involvement as a father with his four children by four women gave Dr. Phil a chance to get on his soapbox.

You never want to tee it up for Phil, and Owens made it oh-so-easy.

Turns out T.O.'s reality is very different from the sympathetic "reality" presented when Owens was paying the bills.

How could Mo and Kita -- aka management team Monique Jackson and Kita Williams -- let this happen?

Athletes are no strangers to reality shows. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will teach millions of American women how to pronounce his name on an upcoming Fox dating show called "The Choice". Chad Ochocinco had a dating series on VH1. Nets player Kris Humphries had a recurring role on the Kardashians' reality show -- including a celebrity wedding! -- before his role was cut.

But as former Laker Lamar Odom can attest, reality shows aren't always good for your career. He and his Kardashian wife are putting the brakes on their spinoff show so Odom can get his basketball career back on track after being cut by Dallas.

But "The T.O. Show" seemed to work for Owens. A sampling of Owens' VH1 storylines: T.O. gets the key to the city of Buffalo! T.O. gives his old high school football team a pep talk in Alabama! T.O. goes with Mo and Kita to Las Vegas! T.O. dates supermodel Jessica White in Los Angeles! Incidentally, one of the highlights of that episode was when she told Owens' management team "You can Google me," when they asked what she did for a living.

But when Owens told Dr. Phil he hasn't had time to visit his children with any regularity because of his travel schedule?

Facepalm.

The upshot: Owens, 38, has been taken to court for failure to pay child support. He has little left from the tens of millions he earned in the course of his career. He rarely sees his children. One mother said -- and Owens did not contradict her -- that he has asked why he has to spend money for birthday and Christmas presents when he already pays child support.

Or this gem: One of the few times he tried to see all of his children was for an episode of his show. Some of the mothers agreed, others said no. But using your kids as props when you have limited involvement with them is so …: well, you explain it, Phil.

So here is a plea to the NFL and NFL Players Association. Please make T.O.'s appearance on Dr. Phil part of the rookie symposium. It is one thing to give the percentages of retired players who divorce or go into bankruptcy, and it's quite another to see it happening in front of you.

And who better to use as a poster child than Owens? He really did capitalize on all the fruits of his NFL labors. He had a much longer career than most athletes can hope for. He achieved a level of fame that is enviable -- access to cars, homes and gorgeous women.

To see him squirming in front of a firing squad of angry mothers and a self-righteous television host is the ultimate cautionary tale.