I am terrified to write this article. Make no mistake. Every essence of my being is quivering in terror and anticipation for the deluge of "I TOLD YOU SO"'s that this article is inviting into my life.
I expect to be torn down by friends, family, strangers, animals, and many types of fungi alike. However, it needs to be said.
Despite my copious amounts of chest-thumping and soap-boxing, defending T.O.'s antics against media and fan speculation alike for 3 years with the fervor to match any 20th century dictator that comes to mind, I can now finally see the forest through the trees.
I can now bring myself to view the situation with at least a modicum of objectivity and rationality. I can now finally bring myself to say it.
Good riddance, TO.
This is coming from a tortured fan who vividly remembers Clint Stoerner noodle-arming wobblers 30 yards down the field to Rocket Ismail. This is coming from the same bemoaned supporter who watched Quincy Carter try to run the option...in the NFL...with Troy Hambrick.
Drew Bledsoe to Keyshawn Johnson.
Jason Garrett to David LaFluer.
Chad Hutchinson/Drew Henson/RYAN LEAF to Antonio Bryant.
These are the quarterback/WR tandems Cowboys fans have had to suffer through since their last playoff win 12 years ago. The reason I felt the need to dredge up all of these terrible memories (believe me it wasn't easy, I am still hyperventilating into a paper bag as we speak) was to elucidate just how ridiculous it is for a Cowboys fan to utter the words "Good Riddance" to a talent like Terrell Owens.
The only other "marquee" receiver the Dallas Cowboys have had since Michael Irvin has been Joey Galloway.
I'll let that sink in for a second.
I watched Jerry Jones give up not one, but TWO first round picks for Joey Galloway in 2000. Terrell Owens scored more touchdowns (13) in his first season with the Cowboys than Joey Galloway (12) did in his entire four-year career with the team.
That beautiful dichotomy encompasses the precise reason why I am still in utter disbelief as the words flow from my fingertips.
Good riddance to Terrell Owens, the only WR to have 1,000 yards and 10+ TD's for the last three years.
The man who is firmly sandwiched between the likes of Cris Carter, Jerry Rice, and Tim Brown in virtually every statistical category (not even going to attempt the "push over" sarcasm again I don't feel like having my house burned down by readers who take everything too literally and think I would actually call Jerry Rice a push over).
Anybody can see the effect T.O. has on the field, and nobody can argue that, without his production, the Cowboys would absolutely not have had the past regular season successes that they did.
I would liken the term "regular season to success" to such other blindly optimistic terms as "tallest midget" or "smartest pre-schooler," yet I digress.
After T.O.'s release, I was completely torn. You can't just find 1,000 yards and 10 TD's a year in the NFL. You just don't fill that void with the likes of Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd.
However, all it took was the first "T.O." sighting in Buffalo to snap this whole issue into unprecedented and brilliant clarity.
I saw T.O.'s name scrolling along ESPN's bottom line, and, for the first time in three years, I didn't have an aneurysm. My stomach didn't turn over.
My fists didn't clinch in anticipation of some ridiculous accusation or parable detailing Terrell Owens' moral bankruptcy (I felt the need to channel some of the hyperbole usually reserved for the mainstream media breaching this topic).
It was that moment of realization that allowed me to finally take a step back and quantify the subtly oppressive atmosphere that T.O. brings to any club house or locker room.
When T.O. got to Buffalo, it wasn't a second year player in James Hardy respectfully relinquishing his number to one of the greatest wide receivers ever to play the game.
Instead, it was T.O. coming into a brand new clubhouse and "stealing" or "demanding" the number from poor little James.
How many players in the league do you think skipped the first voluntary work out of the off season conditioning program? In that same vein, how many players in the league need an offseason conditioning program less than Terrell Owens?
Yet, I've heard as much about this missed work out as I did the A-Roid scandal, Spygate, and Victory in Japan Day combined.
Yes, I will lower my defenses long enough to agree with Eagles fans on this one thing.
I'd like to add the one caveat that, while T.O.'s past experience has made him an easy target (which is no one's fault but his own), one must acknowledge the amount of speculation in these stories are absurd.
I guarantee not one member of the media witnessed the exchange between James Hardy and Terrell Owens over the No. 81. True T.O. did give a smug quote proclaiming 81 as "his number," but that sheds absolutely no light on how delicately T.O. actually handled that exchange.
But that is precisely the point. Despite the fact that not one member of the media was in the Bills locker room to witness that exchange, that didn't stop a plethora of "T.O. bullies No. 81 out of James Hardy" stories from the media.
Regardless of what T.O. actually does, his horrible history with team chemistry has made him such an easy target that any lazy journalist can turn even the most asinine action by the mercurial receiver into any sensationalistic "T.O. Is Tearing The Team Apart" story he pleases.
On the field, Terrell Owens is a fantastic and one-of-a-kind talent that should be applauded and respect.
Off the field, T.O. is a self-perpetuating engine of negativity that gradually poisons any light-hearted locker room by suppressing any good stories that might arise with a maelstrom of negative coverage that he has absolutely invited and warranted regardless of how he is actually behaving.
It is a confirmed fact that, after the game in which Tony Romo had his chin split open, he pulled over (in the rain I believe but I could be making that up) to help an elderly couple change a tire.
That should have been a national story in a time where most modern day athletes would refuse to change their own tire, let alone a stranger's.
However, it is a lot easier to write about how T.O. flipped out on the sideline, or about how he only caught three passes and if it happens again he is going to explode, than it is to write a human interest piece on Tony Romo. It's just a fact.
That is why, after over a decade without a playoff win, after countless disappointing seasons and miserable shortcomings, after bobbled snaps and playoff losses to division rivals, I can look at a on-of-a-kind talent like Terrell Owens and finally be able to utter the words...