I am having a hard time figuring out what Terrell Owens' nickname, "T.O.," really stands for. I have heard "Team Obliterator," "Too Old," "Terribly Overrated," and many more clever acronyms.
Nowadays, however, I am inclined to say that T.O. stands for "Totally Overblown," as in: the amount of credit Owens has gotten for the downfall of the 2008 Dallas Cowboys is completely and utterly overblown.
I can completely understand why people do not like the guy. He is cocky and abrasive. He speaks his mind and says things that make people shake their head and roll their eyes, whether they agree with him or not.
He has bad history due to his very well documented stays in San Fransisco and Philadelphia, and history is hard to overcome.
I get it! If I were not a Cowboys fan, I probably would not like him, either. In fact, I despised the guy when he stood on the Cowboys' star with San Fran and continually dissected the Cowboys' defenses with Philly.
What I do not get is why Cowboys' fans, Cowboys' haters, and both national and local media alike have all come together to form one simple-minded and knee-jerking school of thought: The Cowboys will be a better team if they cut Terrell Owens.
Where is the evidence to support this absurd statement?
Was it Owens who caused the offensive line to suddenly forget how to pass-block? Was it Owens who missed the tackles on the two 70-plus-yard runs in the Baltimore game (a game that, had the Cowboys won, would have clinched a playoff spot)?
Did Owens cause Sam Hurd, Felix Jones, Mat McBriar, Pat Watkins, Roy Williams, Isaiah Stanback, and Kyle Kosier all to sustain season-ending injuries? While we are at it, was it Owens' fault that Tony Romo, Terence Newman, Anthony Spencer, and Marion Barber all missed significant time due to injury?
In a year that did not go as planned for the Dallas Cowboys, there is plenty of blame to be passed around, and Terrell Owens certainly deserves his fair share.
However, what exactly did Terrell Owens do that would justify being cut from the Dallas Cowboys, and how on earth would this make the team better?
Now I am not naive enough to think that everyone in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room loves Terrell Owens. In fact, I am not ignorant enough to think that any player on any team is universally liked by every single player that they share the locker room with.
That being said, in his time with Dallas, I have seen no signs that lead me to believe Owens is a "cancer" in the locker room, and this seems to be the primary argument to let Owens loose.
In San Francisco, he called his quarterback gay. Cancer. In Philadelphia, he questioned his quarterback's toughness and heart. Cancer. In Dallas, he shed tears in defense of his quarterback. Cancer? I am sorry, but I am just not seeing a trend here.
The big news this year was ESPN writer Ed Werder's story citing an unnamed source who claimed that Terrell Owens thought Tony Romo and Jason Witten were drawing up secret plays to freeze Owens out of the offense.
I have already stated that I think this was a story that was most likely either misquoted or just completely taken out of context. The fact that I have still yet to see a direct quote from the source that leaked this story leads me to see little truth in what was reported.
However, for the sake of argument, let's assume that Terrell Owens did in fact make the idiotic claim about Romo and Witten's secret underground meetings.
Who is really to blame here for all the distraction that was caused by this: Owens for saying something stupid behind closed doors or the player who decided to break the story to Ed Werder and the rest of the world while remaining anonymous?
Had this just been a statement that Owens made out of frustration after a heart-breaking loss to Pittsburgh, it is of my opinion that those who heard it would have simply rolled their eyes and gone about their business. Surely that is not the most ridiculous statement that has ever been uttered in a locker room.
Instead, every player was forced to answer question after question for an entire week over what should have been a non-issue instead of just focusing on the next week's game against New York.
Owens has also come under fire for his criticism of Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett. Fans, media, and opposing team's players have all ripped Garrett for his simplistic and predictable offense that does not fully utilize the skillsets of the many playmakers that Dallas possesses.
Why is it, then, that both Owens and quarterback Tony Romo have been criticized for saying the same thing. While it can argued that this is the kind of talk that belongs behind closed doors, who's to say that these conversations had not already taken place in private?
While Owens has not necessarily earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt, I just do not see Tony Romo bringing his frustrations with Garrett into the public eye unless he has already done all that he can behind closed doors.
At the very least, Owens and Romo both have every right to be a little peeved with the direction of the Cowboys' offense.
With the exception of the Werder incident and Garrett criticism, what else could possibly point to Owens being a "cancer" for this team?
He shows up to practice and busts his butt, he helps out younger players, he stays out of legal trouble, and more than anything, he wants to win.
People have also pointed to Owens' drop in production as a reason that ties should be cut with him. While this ideology makes a little more sense, it also makes no sense at all.
At 35 years old, Terrell Owens is not the player that he was five years ago, and he may never be again.
Owens undoubtedly had a "down year" this past year, but how many receivers in the league would salivate at the thought of a 69 catch, 1,052 yard, 10 touchdown season being considered a "down year."
The plain and simple fact of the matter is that Owens is still a major threat. He still draws occasional double- and triple-teams. He still makes other players' jobs easier by drawing defensive players to him.
The people that say letting go of Owens would be similar to the Giants letting go of Jeremy Shockey must have forgotten how pedestrian the Cowboys' offense looked when Owens went down with an injury late in the 2007 season.
The difference is that while the Giants had a capable tight end in Kevin Boss to fill Shockey's shoes, the Cowboys do not yet have another legitimate wide receiver.
I like Roy E. Williams, but I have not yet seen anything that leads me to believe that he is a legitimate number one receiver.
In 10 games with the Cowboys, Williams had a disappointing 19 catches for 198 yards and only one touchdown. That kind of production will not be enough to replace the threat of Terrell Owens.
Owens may not be the most likable guy, but he certainly is not the only person to blame for the Cowboys' disappointing 2008 season. There are things that he can improve on, but cutting ties with Owens will not fix the many problems that the Cowboys have.
The Cowboys need to get healthy. The Cowboys need to block better. The Cowboys need to continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball. More than anything, the Cowboys need 52 more guys on their roster that desire to win as much as Terrell Owens.