Home > American Football > Is T.O. victimised by the media?

Is T.O. victimised by the media?

Terrell Owens is one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL. During a career spanning 14 years (and counting), the man from Alabama has amassed over 15,000 receiving yards and 149 touchdowns (146 receiving, 3 rushing). He is a 5-times All-Pro; has been to the Pro-Bowl six times; was chosen in the NFL 2000s all-decade team; is second on the all-time receiving yards list and third all-time for receiving touchdowns. Furthermore, he is the only player in NFL history to record touchdowns against all 32 teams.

His greatest season arguably came during his two year stint in Philadelphia. In the 2004 season, Owens piled on 1200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games before fracturing his fibula in a game against the Dallas Cowboys. Owens looked set to be out for some time but miraculously appeared in the Super Bowl when the Eagles took on the New England Patriots. Despite being only partially fit, Owens caught 9 passes for 122 yards. However, his brave effort was in vain as Tom Brady and co. prevailed. Soon afterwards, Owens’s relationship with quarterback Donovan McNabb and the Eagles’ management soured and he was forced to seek pastures new, eventually landing in Dallas.

Owens turns 37 this year so one could be forgiven for thinking that his powers may be on the wane. This is however not the case. Following a mediocre season in a poor Buffalo team last year, Owens has started promisingly for the Cincinnati Bengals. In his first five games, he has chalked up 476 yards and two touchdowns, overshadowing star teammate Chad Ochocinco in the process. He piled up a huge total of 222 yards in week four versus Cleveland and followed that up with 102 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week. When T.O. is still capable of performing at this level, one must ask why it took so long for anybody to snap him up as a free agent.

The Cincinnati Bengals eventually took a chance on Terrell Owens

Owens himself provided the answer in last week’s Sunday Sitdown with the NFL Network. During the interview, T.O. raised the notion of ‘perception’ and spoke about how it had affected his career and opportunities as a free agent. His comments seemed to be aimed in particular at certain corners of the media who have portrayed Owens down the years as a trouble causer you can do without and while things may not be quite so simple, it has to be said that Owens has not always helped his cause.

He is infamous for a string of touchdowns which have cost him thousands of dollars in fines and his teams hundreds of yards in penalties. In 2000, he celebrated a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys on the Cowboys logo at centre field. Cowboys safety George Teague, not pleased with what he saw, took matters in to his own hands and hit Owens. Both were disciplined. In 2002, Owens once again entered the endzone and celebrated in style, this time pulling out a marker pen and signing the ball. He followed this in 2003 by throwing snow at fans in Cincinnati and in 2007, he stole a fan’s popcorn and poured it in to his helmet. Such celebrations are deemed unsporting and excessive and so T.O. has been seen by some as too much of a clown.

A more unsavoury incident that caused Owens’ stock to fall occurred when he was playing for the Dallas Cowboys against the Atlanta Falcons in 2006. Falcons Cornerback DeAngelo Hall claimed after the game that Owens had spat at him. Owens admitted he had, saying that he had been frustrated listening to Hall’s taunts. He was promptly ordered to apologise and fined $35,000.

In September 2006, doubts were cast over Owens’s mental stability when he was found unconscious next to an empty bottle of pain killers. Rumours abounded that the wide receiver had attempted to commit suicide, something which an initial police report seemed to support. Owens and his publicist however denied this. It has never been established what happened, but the incident was an unwelcome blot on Owens’ copybook.

Such antics unfortunately tend to receive more press than sporting achievement in a day and age in which readers are more interested in sportsmen as celebrities than in their sporting talents and it is this that has worked against Owens. His quality is undeniable and somebody of T.O.’s experience and ability should be snapped up immediately on free agency. However, such behaviour has clearly put off some suitors and so it was the Bengals that took a chance on him and it looks at this point like it may pay off. Furthermore, they have managed to get Owens on the cheap. While his assertion that he is basically playing “for free” may well be something of an overstatement, a $2 million a year deal for a wide receiver of such standing is a bargain. It is now up to Owens to prove that he is worth more.

So, does Terrell Owens get a rough ride from the media? Probably not. Although his ability and talent do not get the coverage they warrant, he has brought a lot of the negative press on himself and we unfortunately live in a world where this overshadows sporting talent, just ask the likes of Tiger Woods and Wayne Rooney.

Categories: American Football
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