Debunking the Myth of Terrell Owens Disrupting Team Chemistry

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIJanuary 27, 2013

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 19:  Terrell Owens #81 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during their NFL game against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome on October 19, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams defeated the Cowboys 34-14.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

For a player continuously accused of "disrupting team chemistry," Terrell Owens was awfully productive on the football field.

No matter how much his pundits have attempted to minimize the significance of his production by labeling his contributions as mere "numbers" and "stats", there can be no denying that Owens has already secured his place amongst the greatest to have ever played the game.

1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.

I mean, that's a whole lot of production coming from a man who is said to have "disrupted team chemistry" time and time again.

I suppose that's the premise of my argument:

Myth No. 81 in "The Evils of Terrell Owens" best-selling fiction novel.

You see, to actually disrupt team chemistry is to imply that one's presence has a negative impact upon the manner in which players are able to perform with each other on the football field.

Coming from a man who is said to have "thrown his quarterbacks under the bus," wouldn't it be safe to assume that if ever there were a teammate whose chemistry was bound for disruption, it would be the quarterback?

Funny that never seemed to be the case.

Steve Young was a Hall of Famer who played like one both before and after Owens was drafted.

Jeff Garcia played like a Pro Bowler with Owens before seeing his production drop significantly after playing without Owens.

Donovan McNabb's production spiked by leaps and bounds when playing with Owens:

  • McNabb's quarterback rating from 1999-2003: 79.3 (lower then Elvis Grbac's career 79.6)
  • McNabb's quarterback rating in 2004 with Owens: 104.7 (higher then Steve Young's career 96.8)
  • McNabb's completion percentage from 1999-2003: 57.0 (lower then Ty Detmer's career 57.7)
  • McNabb's completion percentage in 2004 with Owens: 64.0 (higher then Tom Brady's career 63.7)
  • McNabb's YPA average from 1999-2003: 6.2 (lower then Billy Joe Tolliver's career 6.3)
  • McNabb's YPA average in 2004 with Owens: 8.3 (higher then Peyton Manning's career 7.6)

No need to revisit McNabb's playing days the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings

Tony Romo went from starting zero games in his career to a perennial Pro Bowl superstar with Owens. Not much has changed in Romo's production department since, but his Cowboys are still nowhere near a Super Bowl title without Owens. 

Little was made of Owens' model citizenship in Buffalo and Cincinnati, which makes sense: Owens was the leading receiver for both teams in 2009 and 2010.

Despite playing for a terrible Cincinnati Bengals team, which in 2010 ranked dead last in rushing efficiency (32nd in yards per carry), Owens played part of that season with a broken hand. Still, he racked up 222 yards against the Cleveland Browns in defeat and nabbed ten receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns against the league's No. 1 defense (Pittsburgh Steelers)—astonishing performances at the age of 36.

Prior to his injury in Week 12 of the 2010 season against the New York Jets, Owens was producing at a pace similar to the prime of his career:

Owens (2001): 93 receptions for 1,412 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Owens (2010—projected over 16 games): 99 receptions for 1,435 yards and 13 touchdowns.

All of this actual substantiation stands in contrast to his perception.

See, to believe that Owens "disrupted team chemistry" is to believe the following:

A: The "locker room cancer" moniker was nothing but an unsubstantiated myth fabricated by the media to help cover up a team's shortcomings by way of "scapegoatism." Or...

B: Owens actually did "disrupt team chemistry", but his talents were so otherworldly that he became an unstoppable production machine that caught over a thousand poorly thrown passes coming his way from disgruntled quarterbacks.

The media can't have their cake and eat it too.

Ignore the fact that countless teammates have spoken out in defense of Owens while "anonymous" players often seem to be the ones saying anything to the contrary.

Did you know: Terrell Owens is the only wide receiver in NFL history to be named a First Team All-Pro selection with three different organizations.

His accomplishments are legendary.

His résumé is a testament to "success despite one's surroundings."

People are resentful for it—call it "jealousy they'd all deny" in this day and age. Doesn't stop people from believing perception over reality.

Point being—don't always buy what the media feeds you.


Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at:

He also writes for

Follow him on Twitter at:!/theryanmichael


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