It's astonishing what little proof is ever required for members of the media to bash the daylights out of Terrell Owens as both a football player and as a person.
In response to Owens' recent release from the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, Fantasy Analyst Jason Smith took to the internet to illustrate what he feels "went wrong with T.O. this time."
His unsubstantiated innuendo was present just a few sentences into the article.
"It's not because he's selfish. It's not because he burns bridges. It's not because he alienated every QB he ever played with. It's not because of his elaborate celebrations, which quickly wore thin." -Jason Smith
If you're hoping for Smith to back up his accusations with facts, you're out of luck.
Most people won't care though, the aforementioned just "sounds good enough" for the masses to nod their head's in approval, jumping on the "Bash T.O. Bandwagon" without so much as a sliver of evidence to substantiate the claims.
Instead, Smith relies on pure conjecture to conclude that Owens no longer "loves" playing football.
I mean, that sounds right. Doesn't it?
"Our fans are amongst the best in the league, and it is impossible to maintain a player when even our fans notice and comment on a player's lack of effort both on and off the field." -Jon Frankel
So if Owens didn't give 100 percent of his effort 100 percent of the time while playing in the Indoor Football League, that must mean that the man who has been trying desperately to work his way back into the NFL has lost his "love" of the game.
I swear I feel like I'm reading a tabloid.
It may be politically incorrect to say, but did anyone ever consider the possibility that a player of Owens' caliber may need to be surrounded with greater talent and greater purpose to motivate him to give 100 percent of his effort 100 percent of the time?
His 15,934 receiving yards rank him as the second best in NFL history.
His 153 touchdowns also rank him as the second best in NFL history.
Owens has done everything besides win an NFL championship; never mind the fact that he came back from a broken leg to catch nine passes for 122 yards against a Bill Bellichick coached defense in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Owens' alleged lack of effort on an IFL field does not equate to a lack of passion for playing in the NFL. The two universes aren't even close to being similar.
Randy Moss was accused of mailing it in after being stuck in the Oakland Raiders hellhole in 2006. In 2007, he went on to set the all-time NFL record of 23 touchdown receptions in a single-season with the New England Patriots.
Sometimes great players need a bit more than the bare minimum to motivate them to give 100 percent of the talents they still possess.
At 38 years old, Owens is in better condition than most 28-year-old wide receivers.
At 38 years old, Owens' football I.Q. is as high (if not higher) than any receiver in the league.
At 38 years old and with nothing more to prove beyond winning a championship, Owens remains hungry to be given an opportunity to come into camp just to compete for a spot on an NFL roster.
Smith backs his claims up with a list of seven things Owens wouldn't have done had he "really cared about football."
1) "Made insinuations about Jeff Garcia's sexual orientation."
Lets apply a little logic to break down this often-cited knock against Owens' character.
Owens did not bring up the topic in the first place. Playboy did.
Now why would Playboy have asked the question to begin with? Could it be that those not named Terrell Owens began to question Garcia's sexual orientation before hand?
Even then, Owens never claimed that Jeff Garcia was gay.
"My thing was I didn't say that he was gay. Like I said, the conversation and interview was loose and from my knowledge I'm not sure if Jeff is gay or not." -Terrell Owens in response to the Playboy interview.
The masses also tend to ignore what Owens said later on in the Playboy interview:
"If it was a guy who was helping us win ball games, hey, I'd have no problem with it. He can do what he wants to do outside of my everyday life." -Terrell Owens
2) "Said he wasn't the one who got tired in Super Bowl XXXIX."
Owens may be guilty for insinuating (which is not the same as personally accusing) that a player who got tired in Super Bowl XXXIX may have actually gotten tired.
This testifies to his lack of love for the sport of football how?
No, it illustrates that in this one instance - Owens may have been a little too honest.
3) "Tried to play basketball in the NBA summer league while with the Philadelphia Eagles."
During the off-season you mean?
When other players dedicate much of their spare time to partying, doing drugs and getting involved in numerous off-the-field legal troubles (Terrell Owens has been arrested zero times), Owens doesn't love the sport of professional football because he was interested in basketball enough to multi-task?
We're really stretching here.
4) "Hurled insults at the Eagles, which ultimately resulted in his deactivation in 2005."
Look up hyperbole.
Owens was upset that the Philadelphia Eagles refused to acknowledge his 100th career touchdown reception.
Right, because being disappointed that your own team failed to recognize something that had only happened four times prior in the history of the NFL - now that's showing a lack of "love" for the sport.
All of this coming after the team refused to re-structure his contract.
I'm sure he must have "not loved" the sport to have made the following comments about that situation:
"Like I told a lot of people, in this situation had it been someone like Brett Favre, they would have called him a warrior. They used me and said I was selfish. If I'm selfish, I'm selfish because I wanted to help my team win." -Terrell Owens
So Owens was not medically cleared to compete in Super Bowl XXXIX after breaking his leg less than two months prior, and this "selfish" player decided to risk his career to go on and put up a productive performance against one of the best pass defenses of our entire generation.
Now he's the one in the wrong for "hurling insults"?
At his record-setting pace in 2005, Owens would have put up 107 receptions for 1,744 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Eagles were 4-3 with Owens.
In his final game playing in a Philadelphia uniform, he caught three passes for 154 yards and a touchdown; burning Champ Bailey in his prime to score a 91-yard touchdown while playing injured.
The Eagles lost that game 49-21.
After deactivating Owens, the T.O.-less Eagles finished 2-7.
Though surely some will argue that Owens was just so disruptive that the Eagles decided to throw away an entire season out of principle and cost their fans a chance of returning to the Super Bowl.
Maybe they were just foolish and made the wrong call.
Teams make mistakes.
Problem with accusation No. 5 is that Terrell Owens has never publicly said anything of the sort.
So how can you determine a player's love of the game based on something that's completely unsubstantiated?
Even if you believed this to be true, would it not illustrate Owens' "love" for the sport by wanting to be more involved in the offense?
6) "Openly disagreed with the play-calling while with the Buffalo Bills."
You cannot possibly be serious.
An obvious reference to the post-game press conference where the media intentionally asked Owens leading questions in the hopes of eliciting a negative response.
Owens refused to stoop to that level and in return, has another unsubstantiated knock added to Jason Smith's list.
7) "Put a clause in his IFL contract that he didn't have to participate in every road game, though he was purportedly trying to show the NFL he can still play."
So because Owens may not have wanted to play in every road game with the Wranglers, and had that worked into a contract that there Wranglers accepted, now Owens does not "love" the sport of professional football?
Through his workouts and through his performance in the IFL, I have little doubt that Owens can still play in the NFL.
Much like Randy Moss in 2006, his environment may need to change if we are to see him give 100 percent of his efforts 100 percent of the time.
That's just common sense.
This is just another example of a writer taking things that just "sound right" and using T.O.'s name to make headlines.
Terrell Owens personally had nothing to do with the creation of this article.
Terrell Owens did not contact NFL.com begging to put his name in the spotlight.
The media shamelessly accuses him of craving attention so bad when at this point in his career, it seems that it is the media who is in "love" with the idea of making Terrell Owens out to be loveless.
Disappointing albeit, completely predictable.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
He also writes for www.TerrellOwensDefense.org.
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael