Just let this sink in for a second. Terrell Owens, the most controversial, vilified, and scrutinized player in the NFL is now playing in Orchard Park. Oh, and did I mention, he’s one of the best receivers of all time?
That being said, there is sure to be some backlash, simply because of who Owens is; it may be small, but it will be there.
On the surface, it may look like bringing in a guaranteed locker room cancer is about as good of an idea as sticking a lit cigar up your ass, but the unique circumstances in Buffalo appear to create a very favorable situation for Owens and the Bills.
First off, the contract is only a one-year, $6.5 million one. He is making substantially less this year than Lee Evans (approximately $9 Million) and would have to be considered a vastly superior receiver. So, the Bills have managed to land one of the greatest receivers to every play, for a pittance; I’d say that constitutes a good move.
However, it’s not just the money, it’s the length—one year. It always seems to take a year or two for Owens to properly ferment into the bubbling cauldron of crazy that he inevitably becomes.
The biggest factor in all of this may simply be geographic location. Buffalo is the NFL equivalent of the ice planet Hoth. (Marcus Stroud is the Wampa) This may be frustrating to the Bills' faithful, but it could be perfect for Owens.
Without the intensity of the spotlight from insane Philly fans, or the continual verbal love most of the media gives the Cowboys maybe, just maybe, Owens will have less pressure to be “the show.”
I know that sounds kind of crazy, considering Owens is a well-known attention whore, but perhaps, the fans themselves can provide the attention and emotional catharsis he so obviously craves.
Buffalo is a city whose fans will love you, as long as you produce or are a hard worker (just ask Stu Barnes). In Buffalo, I’m pretty sure you could break into a fan's house, shoot the dog, throw the wife on kitchen table, steal their life savings, and the response would be “yeah, but he scores touchdowns, and works hard.”
That kind of mindset will serve Owens's fragile psyche well; he won’t have to deal with Philly fans booing just to boo or Dallas fans who think it’s their birthright to win every game. He will have a group of fans who will adore him, even if he's the biggest ass on the planet. (Which Owens has a strong case for)
Finally, we get to the X’s and O’s of the T.O. signing, which tells you something about Owens—the actual football ramifications are last. However, Bills' fans have been bitching for years that we need another receiving threat to free up Evans. We tried to draft a receiver last year; that hasn’t panned out so far.
Now, you have a legitimate great in Owens, lining up opposite a solid No. 1 with speed to burn in Evans. You can move the highly underrated possession-specialist Josh Reed back to the slot, where he belongs.
Add Marshawn Lynch to the mix, pounding defenses into submission and Fred Jackson catching passes from the backfield, and all of a sudden, a very mediocre offense starts looking dynamic and explosive. Someone will be open, whether it’s to receive passes or gash the "D" with a long run.
So really, this signing is starting to make more and more sense to me. After all, what do the Bills have to lose? It’s not like this team was a beacon of football greatness. They have been a mediocre-to-bad team for a decade now. If T.O. destroys all team chemistry and the Bills have another losing season, who cares?
That’s just status quo in Buffalo. However, if Owens leads them to a winning record and a playoff run, well, then that’s a huge improvement over past seasons. The reward far outweighs the risk in this case.
Am I going to say this is a championship team now? God no, I’m not that delusional. I will, however, say, with confidence, that this team is much better with Owens than without—either that or Trent Edwards puts a 9mm hollow tip in his brain right in the huddle.