It Will Take a Village...

Gene StrotherCorrespondent IIIAugust 6, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 28:  Terrell Owens #81 of the Dallas Cowboys sits on the bench late in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 28, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Cowboys 44-6.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) replace the Village Idiot.

Terrell Owens is gone and it says here that that's a good thing. It is good for the cohesiveness and unity of the team. It is good for the effectiveness of the team leadership. It is good for the morale (and the sanity) of Tony Romo. And it is good for the development of the Austin Miles and Sam Hurds of the world.

Now, T.O. and his dwindling fan base would argue that a T.O.-less team is never going to be as good as a team with T.O. on it. So far, however, three out of three teams for which he has played have been more than willing to make that sacrifice just to be rid of the nut case egomaniac. T.O. likes to tout himself as a good teammate. If only he could find a team that, after a year or two of his antics, would agree with him.

Terrell thinks himself good for a team because he reasons - and has stated as much - that whatever is good for T.O. is good for the team. It makes perfect sense in his mind. Get the ball in his hands and good things are going to happen. Those good things are good for him, sure, but they are also good for the team. Touchdowns are good things for players and teams.

But Terrell misses the subtle point at work here. His philosophy is one of selfishness and self-promotion, not that of a team guy. The selfish player insists, "What is good for me is good for the team." The team player, however, says, "I will gladly do whatever is best for the team, even if it means I have to do less so the team can succeed."

Think Terrell ever had that thought run through that thick noggin of his? Think he ever ran a decoy route he liked? Think he ever participated in a big win for his team that included little attention paid to him and genuinely celebrated the victory?

But enough about that. Terrell Owens has been banished to the wastelands of the NFL, otherwise known as Buffalo. What remains in Dallas is a receiving corps that must produce without him. Plenty of attention is being paid to Roy Williams in training camp. People are wondering if he will be able to step up his game and assume the role vacated by T.O.

I can end the suspense right here and now. No! He will not. Roy may prove to be a nice player for the Cowboys. He may turn in some stellar performances in the upcoming season. But he will not replace the on-field production of Terrell Owens. He won't because he can't. He is not the same creature. Whatever T.O. was negatively off the field, he was often an overachieving, field-stretching, touchdown-scoring machine on it.

Williams cannot replace Terrell Owens. Neither can Miles Austin or Sam Hurd or Patrick Crayton. Not even the great Jason Witten can do that. Individually, every one of these players will fall short of  replacing the dynamic presence of one of the most dominating receivers in league history. Alone, none of them can do it.

Let's do a little comparison shopping, shall we?

  • Miles Austin's best season (out of only three) was 2008: 13 catches for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • Patrick Crayton's best year to date was 2007, when he had 50 catches for 697 yards and 7 touchdowns.
  • Sam Hurd's best season was also 2007 when he gained 314 yards on 19 catches and scored one TD.
  • Roy Williams, in 2006, had 83 receptions for 1310 yards and 7 TDs. It was his only 1,000+ yard season.
  • Owens' best season was 2000 in San Francisco, when he posted 1451 yards on 97 receptions and scored 13 touchdowns.
  • Owens' best season as a Cowboy was 2007: 1355 yards on 81 catches and 15 touchdowns.
  • Owens, in 2000 vs the Bears, had a 20-reception, 283 yard game (the best in the history of the sport.)
  • Owens has caught 139 touchdowns in his career, including 38 in three seasons with the Cowboys.

So, how do the Cowboys replace T.O.? With Roy Williams? Miles Austin? Sam Hurd?

No. No. And no.

They do it with Williams, Austin, Hurd, Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice. They prove that having a great team trumps having one of the greatest ever to play a particular position. They prove that selfless participation in a team goal beats selfish promotion masquerading as a team player.

They do that, or...they prove T.O right. If they fail, they will load the gun and he will fire the "look, they were better with me than without me" bullet right at Jerry's head.

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