Last night as I was sitting in Marlow's Tavern in Atlanta, I reached down to take a bit of the fantastic hummus from the bowl and happened to notice a smiling face staring at me on one of the TVs in the lounge. I had seen this face before many times; the sly eyes and cheshire grin have graced many televisions in the nation since his being drafted in 1996.
Many times controversial, a few times crying, every time entertaining, Terrell Owens can never be described as shy or lacking an opinion, but there was something different in his eyes that I noticed last night—something that hasn't been there in a long time.
Terrell Owens looked happy.
Granted, Owens has had his share of bad breaks in the last few years, mostly because of his own bad decisions or maybe even bad advice from those around him. He has become a joke of a player in most circles, not because of his conditioning ( for a 38-year-old man, he maintains a great physique and is still in fantastic shape) but because of his influence in the locker room and ability to criticize anyone in the fallout zone when the bottom drops out on his teams.
Last night, at least for the moment, things looked different.
His competition is not against NFL-caliber athletes. He is not running routes against the likes of Darrelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha anymore, but in his three touchdowns, in what at first looked to be heading to a quiet night, we could still see a glimmer of a once-great wide receiver.
During his post-game interview, Owens looked not like a man shamed for being sent down to a league that offers little of the publicity and fan support he is used to, but like a man having fun doing what he loves.
I have never been a supporter of Terrell Owens. I have found his arrogance and antics to be more of an irritation sometimes than he may be worth. However, I cannot help but root for him in this case.
A professional football player loses all of his money and is forced to take up a career with a B-level team in a city just 23.5 miles from where he made much of that money. It is a redemption story only Hollywood could write.
I only hope the ending is a happy one.