Now that Donovan McNabb is no longer a Philadelphia Eagle, the fanbase is constantly told, "Be careful what you wish for," and, "You don't realize what you have until it's gone."
Truer words may have never been spoken.
Too bad they are in reference to the wrong man.
When the Eagles travel out to Cincinnati to play the Bengals on Friday night at 8 p.m., every fan should repeat those lines when they see Terrell Owens sporting one of the worst uniforms an NFL franchise has going.
I remember Owens catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in only 14 games in 2004 before Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams injured T.O. thanks to a cheap horse-collar tackle, which is now a personal foul. Owens limped off the field and everyone in Lincoln Financial searched for the panic button.
The Eagles ultimately beat that terrible edition of the Cowboys 12-7 while they also improved their record to 13-1 and sealed up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. But the talk only revolved around the status of No. 81.
The doctors eventually diagnosed Owens with the dreaded high-ankle sprain along with a small fracture in his leg.
Owens was done for the year and the city was bummed out. Even if the Eagles went to the Super Bowl, T.O. was not going to play and in the minds of most fans, the Eagles were up against it.
But then something weird happened. Owens began to catch some shuteye inside a hyperbaric chamber and he claimed he was ready to play in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots.
Several doctors told T.O. no, but as usual, Owens did what he wanted, played in the game, and caught nine passes for 122 yards.
The Eagles lost to the Patriots 24-21, but Owens emerged as a legendary hero.
Perhaps some of the praise went to his head because T.O. entered training camp in 2005 with new agent Drew Rosenhaus, and demanded more money.
And then something stranger than T.O. playing in the Super Bowl happened. Most Eagles fans and Donovan McNabb took the side of management.
It was truly perplexing.
Yes, T.O. caused a circus-like atmosphere and threw a borderline temper tantrum, but it could have all been resolved if management gave him a pay raise and if McNabb had his receiver's back.
Management told the receiver to get in line and McNabb never came out to defend Owens getting a new deal despite the fact that Owens helped McNabb enjoy the best year of his career.
The criticized receiver went on to play seven games for the Eagles before he was banished for conduct detrimental to the team. In that stretch he caught 47 passes for 763 yards and six touchdowns.
To put those numbers in perspective, it put Owens on pace for 107 receptions, 1,744 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns.
The Eagles played to a 4-3 record with Owens bickering and McNabb battling a sports hernia.
Two games later McNabb's season was over and the Eagles finished with a 6-10 record. Oh and they've never been back to the Super Bowl.
It was weird to see a fanbase turn on someone simply because he wanted more money. It's not like it was coming out of the pockets of the fans, and if it was a matter of principle, then I begin to wonder what point was ultimately proved.
We really showed T.O., huh?
He only went on to sign a bigger contract and we were left without a Super Bowl.
And the incredibly ironic part about all of it is that McNabb supporters are the ones who wanted T.O. gone more than anyone. Weren't they the same people who begged and pleaded for McNabb to play with a stud receiver? And yet, when things got tough, they bailed? Shouldn't they have been the ones who defended Owens the most because they saw how valuable he was to McNabb?
Maybe it's another case of logic eluding the McNabb faithful.
Or maybe this is a case where McNabb supporters learned from history. And the reason they echo the sentiments of appreciating what you have is because they are acknowledging that their boy McNabb should have appreciated Owens while he was here.
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