Bills fans have fallen in love with Terrell Owens because, for the first time since the Music City Miracle, he makes the franchise relevant.
And owner Ralph Wilson essentially has admitted that the decision to sign T.O. ultimately was driven by the relevance factor.
“I said, ‘Sign him,’ ” Wilson told the Associated Press. “In Buffalo, we
haven’t had a national figure publicity-wise since [Jim] Kelly.”
(Somewhere, Drew Bledsoe is muttering, “What the hell?”)
“So I thought, ‘If this guy’s a bad guy, so what?'” Wilson said. “If he’s a bad guy
we’ll have to get rid of him. But if he’s a good guy, hey, we’re ahead
of the game.'”
Of course, the Bills didn’t do anything to protect themselves against the possibility that Owens would be a “bad guy” in 2009, since the team has given him a guaranteed salary of $6.5 million. That said, his base salary as a practical matter would have been guaranteed as of Week One of the regular season, due to the ability of vested veterans to collect the balance of their base pay if cut thereafter.
For now, though, Owens has been on his best behavior. Whether he remains a good soldier remains to be seen.
As NBC’s Al Michaels said during the second half of Sunday night’s broadcast, they’ve bestowed upon T.O. the key to the city. As some point, they might be changing the locks.