Most think that no one was interested in receiver Terrell Owens last season because of his age (he’s now 38) or the fact that he tore up his knee, apparently while filming a reality show.
Owens thinks that teams have avoided him because the media has painted him as someone who should be avoided.
“I think a lot of why I probably didn’t play this year, everybody keeps talking about the ‘character’ issues,” Owens recently told KESN-FM in Dallas, via the Dallas Morning News. “The last two or three years relatively I was quiet, knowing that everybody was saying that I had a character issue, I’m disruptive, there’s a lot of hype that comes with me, they’re saying I’m a distraction here and there.
“That’s all hearsay. If you ask a bunch of my teammates, a lot of it is basically blown out of proportion, the media making me into a fall guy. Overall, will I ever admit that I was a bad teammate? Never. I wasn’t a bad teammate. Was I disruptive? No, I wasn’t disruptive. I feel like I have a lot of football left and I’m looking forward to getting back to playing.
“I think the thing . . . I didn’t get picked up was that a lot of general managers bought into the fact that the media thinks that I’m this bad guy, this rebel guy, this disruptive guy that divides and messes up team’s chemistry. They won’t allow me to turn over a new leaf. They won’t allow me to be a better person. Anytime anything is brought up about me, they keep talking about things that happened five, six, seven years ago. Why don’t I get a pass? I’ve kind of fallen into that villain category and I can’t get out of that box.”
The biggest flaw in Owens’ logic lies in his assumption that teams rely exclusively on the things the media says about a player. Experienced personnel executives have an extensive network of friends and other connections throughout the league, and people talk to each other about the guys who can be trusted to be good teammates, and those who can’t.
Last year, I had a theory/hypothesis/whatever that Owens should get his knee to 100 percent, find a contending team, and take a shot at going out with a Super Bowl ring. Despite his reputation for ripping a locker room apart from the inside out, he surely couldn’t do that much damage in a short period of time, could he?
I presented that theory/hypothesis/whatever to a source with direct knowledge of Owens’ behavior in one of his recent one-year-stint cities — and the source laughed in my face.
Regardless of whether the reputation is deserved, it’s not a media creation. Owens’ NFL career has ended involuntarily in large part because he’s viewed as a guy who is more trouble than he’s worth, especially at age 38 and with a surgically repaired ACL.