Last week (or this week, depending on when the new week actually begins), the Allen Wranglers figured out something that 32 NFL teams have known for a while: T.O. may love him some him, but he doesn’t love him some team.
Wrangler G.M. Drew Pearson explained on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio in Dallas the dichotomy that is Terrell Owens.
“To me, there’s no question [Owens] could play in the NFL,” Pearson said, via LarryBrownSports.com.
“But it’s not what happens between the lines with Terrell. It’s how he handles things outside the lines, being Terrell Owens, dealing with the fans, being a good teammate. That’s what we were really concerned with developing with Terrell. Going from T.O. to Terrell Owens. But it’s so hard to get to close to Terrell. He lets certain people in. My opinion is he doesn’t let the right people in to tell him the right things. I didn’t want to enable him. I didn’t want to be another one of those guys that have been telling him things all his life that he just wants to hear. I was trying to be that guy that tells him things that he needed to hear.”
Pearson said that things started well, but then gradually fell apart.
“Terrell embraced [his role] initially with tremendous enthusiasm. He was a model citizen and did everything right, but throughout the season, that enthusiasm continually deteriorated,” Pearson said. “The things that we needed him to do or expected him to do just weren’t getting done.
“It just wasn’t a good fit in the end. It was a great fit in the beginning. It got the Wrangler name out there. Terrell performed tremendously, was a great teammate and all that. Somewhere along the line, with him being gone, playing home games and not playing away games, it causes some disruption within your team. You can’t really build chemistry within your football team with one player doing those kind of things. What it led to was other players thinking they can do this and they can do that because they saw Terrell do this and they saw Terrell do that. It was a decision that just had to be made because we are fighting for our playoff lives.”
So why weren’t the Wranglers thinking about these issues when they offered Owens a deal that allowed him to ditch the team’s road games? It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that if you allow a player to only play when the team plays at home, some of the other players will realize that there are two sets of rules — and then some of them will be tempted to test the boundaries of their own abilities and privileges.
The bigger question remains why did the Wranglers feel compelled to grandstand when cutting Owens, publicly accusing him of being a bad teammate by refusing to do that which he wasn’t required to do, and also alleging that he failed to attend an event at a children’s hospital?
An ex-Wranglers coach, who was fired in March so who knows what he really knows, supposedly told TMZ that Owens was dumped due to money, not behavior. Either way, the Wranglers seized on the dumping of Owens to “get the Wrangler name out there,” just like they did when he arrived. And if they crossed the line, Owens perhaps should consider filing suit.
Still, if he holds out any hope in ever returning to the NFL, the last thing T.O. should do is prolong what ultimately was a huge mistake for him, and for the Wranglers. Besides, if the team truly doesn’t have any money, the most he could hope for via litigation would be the pink slip to a dying, fourth-rate football franchise.