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A Love/Hate Relationship: Why I'll Miss T.O.

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A Love/Hate Relationship: Why I'll Miss T.O.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I’m not a fan of reality shows.

 

However, anything Cowboys related since the acquisition of Terrell Owens and subsequent release has seemed like one.

 

Heck, I didn’t need Melrose Place anymore. Forget Big Brother or Rock of Love. I had the Dallas Cowboys and T.O. to quench my thirst for the drama of reality TV.

 

Let me take you back a few years so I can fully explain the emotional highs and lows I’ve experienced with T.O. in my life. As a woman, this relationship I’ve had with T.O. has been a lot like the guy my mom warned me about.

 

In the end, he didn’t mean to break my heart, but he had to move on.

 

On September 24, 2000, T.O. became my least favorite player EVER. I’ve disliked players over the years for being egotistical and showboating, but this incident that occurred in Dallas that day would be the first time I would say I hated a player.

 

This game would also become one of the most memorable moments of Texas Stadium on ESPN in 2008.

 

I celebrated nearly every game with an impromptu Cowboys fan club at a local sports restaurant. I was fortunate to be the first woman allowed into the boys' club because of my passion and knowledge of the ‘Boys.

 

For anyone who’s been living under a rock, T.O. had two touchdowns that game and thought it would be “cute” to celebrate on our star. OUR STAR! For God’s sake, what was this guy thinking?

 

I remember exactly where I was that day and it was a dark day for Dallas fans, and any respect we had for T.O. would be lost in a few plays. This was the year my most cynical comrades penned Troy Aikman “The Mannequin” because of his inability to move in the pocket. That game, he suffered two more concussions and would later be forced to retire from the NFL due to his injuries.

 

The 49ers were ahead by seven when T.O. had his first score and first celebration on the mid-field star.

 

Emmitt Smith attempted to take back our honor by scoring and marking his spot on the mid-field star, erasing the defamation by T.O.

 

The bad boy wasn’t giving up, though.

 

To add insult to injury, T.O. repeated the same offense later in the game after scoring another touchdown and putting the game out of reach for the Cowboys. Grinning as wide as his mouth would go, he took long, easy strides down the field and I watched in horror as the scene unfolded in slow motion.

 

Just as he spiked the ball to the ground, a blur of blue tackled him from behind. That was the day George Teague became my personal hero, and T.O. was the Antichrist of football.

 

And so it was. After several seasons with the 49ers, he moved on to the rival Eagles in 2004.

 

He loved to mock me twice a year, grinning at my Cowboys as he gained more popularity as a star wide receiver with the Eagles.

 

I found myself amused at the rift that began between T.O. and Donovan McNabb, because I was happy that things were unpleasant for T.O. Heck, I was happy that things were unpleasant for the Eagles. I reveled in the drama that riddled the Eagles and was glad that repeat offender Terrell Owens was guilty of causing trouble on yet another team.

 

Then tragedy struck.

 

On March 14, 2006, the Philadelphia Eagles released Owens. Four days later, Jerry Jones announced that the Dallas Cowboys had signed Owens to a three year, $25 million deal, including a $5 million signing bonus, with a $5 million first-year salary.

 

What?!

 

All the Eagles frenemies that I had blew up my phone with texts that day. I’ll never forget it. At first, I could not speak. My husband watched me with curious amusement as I paced the house (a tradition I had, usually only occurred during stressful games) and talked to myself.

 

Why?

 

I yelled at Jerry Jones. I cursed him. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?

 

I felt that this was the biggest betrayal since Tom Landry was let go when Jones took over the team as owner.

 

But then again, that crazy decision led our team to the most important years in Cowboys history.

 

The first season for me was bittersweet.

 

I watched Owens in our colors and the flashbacks of that troublemaker who had desecrated our sacred star were constantly in my head to remind me of the pain he had brought to me in the past. However, it was a bit impressive that he led the league in the regular season with touchdown receptions.

 

Whether you’re a man or a woman, football emotions will get you every time.

 

The 2007 season changed me. Just like the first year after the firing of Tom Landry that shook up our lives forever, I began to do something I had never thought was possible…I began to admire this player who was the guy my mother warned me about.

 

I scrutinized him closely, but it was his attention grabbing personality that was permeating my walls of hatred. T.O. personally addressed my concerns by exceeding my expectations and helping to give our team one aspect of the playoff reward it received two years in a row.

 

HBO’s Hard Knocks sealed the deal for me last year.

 

I was falling in love.

 

T.O. caught crying on camera during a press conference that October was the nail in my coffin. Drama, drama, drama.

 

It wasn’t just his dramatic side—it was his passion for the game that hooked me.

 

Terrell Owens is a player who completely immerses himself into the wide receiver persona—all the while breaking records and still being the best in the game.  Statistically, he is second only to Jerry Rice and staying in stride with the magnificent Randy Moss.

 

Of course I am only referring to players of this decade.

 

I really didn’t buy 100 percent into the whole overrated media coverage of T.O.’s alleged disruption of the Cowboys locker room. I’ll play devil’s advocate here (as a devout Cowboys fan) and say that a lot of it has to do with his passion for the game and intolerance of a lazier organization.

 

Being a passionate person myself, I have often become irritated by others on my [work] team who do not display the sort of work ethic that I do. People with extreme determination and passion in a team environment sometimes expect too much of their teammates—and are constantly let down by those expectations of others when not met.

 

Just as I was settling into the 2009 season with T.O. on board, and believed Mr. Jones that T.O. was here to stay, he was released in March by the Cowboys and picked up by the Bills.

 

I couldn’t believe it—Jerry Jones had ignited my football emotions again.

 

How in the world can I make popcorn now?

 

What will happen to my arms-out, arms-overhead salute?

 

I sure will miss T.O.

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