Terrell Owens: How the Media Fabricated His 'Locker-Room Cancer' NFL Reputation

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIAugust 27, 2011

Despite being routinely crucified by the media, Terrell Owens' locker-room cancer reputation has yet to be substantiated.
Despite being routinely crucified by the media, Terrell Owens' locker-room cancer reputation has yet to be substantiated.

The media’s infatuation with Terrell Owens is about as intriguing as it is disappointing.

Not disappointing due to an absence of interest; but disappointing in the sense that many members of the mass media have taken the game’s greatest entertainer and utilized his services in an ever-constant effort to attain alarming degrees of self-betterment.

Owens became a ratings machine, a front-page headliner, but still, the proverbial punching bag for writers, commentators, and analysts to sink their fists into at any given opportunity; all the while the media’s selfishness could be dismissed by simply reverting back to their own fabricated perception of Owens as points to justify their deliberate attempts to defame his character time after time, week after week, year after year, always for their own agenda.


It was only a matter of time before these misconceptions were force-fed to the credulous masses who were eagerly waiting for the “experts” to dictate to them exactly how they should feel about the star receiver.

I was once one of the aforementioned.

Years ago, when I refused to make an effort to think for myself.

Years ago, when I bought what the media conglomerates dictated to be gospel; unquestionable analysis that was substantiated by clipped footage, leading questions, partial quotations and biased (often for effect) commentating that just made the “T.O. phenomenon” all too believable.

I never questioned why Owens did what he did.

I never questioned why Owens said what he said.

I had experts to do the thinking for me; so what difference would sensible interpretation make anyway?

It wasn’t even a thought.

I wrote Owens off as an arrogant, selfish diva who was the last person in need of defense.

But I was wrong.

Years after the fact, I grew to become disgusted with what the media continued to do ad nauseam.

Care not for the 15-year NFL veteran who often plays for peanuts on teams with no chance of winning a championship. Crucify him when his supporting cast emulates half the level of talent he has because any “good” team with Owens could become “great;” and anything short of championship success must be chalked up to the efforts of the group’s most productive target.

That makes complete sense.

It all comes down to chemistry, you know?

I used to think that commanding double-coverage freed things up for your teammates.

I used to think that receiving yards helped to move your team up and down the field.

I used to think that touchdown receptions helped to put points on the board.

What the above actually has to do with winning football games, I don’t know.

Now I get to pretend to be a media sheep…

Productive or not, it’s impossible to win in the NFL without having the right team chemistry and we all know that no player in NFL history has been quite as “disruptive” as Terrell Owens.

He “destroys team chemistry,” “splits the locker-room in two” and “becomes a venomous cancer that eats away at the potential of a team so much so that paid professionals simply self-destruct on the football field; forgetting their playbooks and forgetting how to perform the paid positions that millions of dollars have motivated them to master”.

I’ve seen it time and time again.

Terrell Owens starting to yell on the sideline!

He then has the audacity to take advantage of the supportive media, who have gone to great lengths to promote his positive public image...whining and griping about wanting to be more involved in the offense.

Have you ever seen his touchdown celebrations?

“Act like you’ve been there before!”

How many parents had to cover the eyes of their children to prevent them from watching an arrogant, selfish Owens sign a football with a Sharpie, dance with the team cheerleaders, and donate a touchdown ball to the Salvation Army?


Owens has gone to great lengths to ruin the pure unadulterated game of professional football with all of his malicious dancing, sideline shouting, and malignant responses to innocent hard-working reporters who only seek to deliver truthful, unbiased, coverage of the sport we all know and love.

All the while Owens has continued to use each and every post-game press conference as a platform to corrupt the youth of America.

His poison is so cancerous, so destructive, and so detrimental to the teams he plays for, no matter how many yards he piles up and no matter how many touchdowns he scores, his unquantifiable aura negates all of his worthless “big numbers” to the point in which his presence alone amounts to a negative net-contribution.

Meaning, even if he catches 15 touchdowns in a single season, having his mere presence in the locker-room hurts his team’s chances of winning more than the points he puts on the board helps his team’s chances of winning.

It’s an undeniable fact.

What bothers me the most about Owens apologists is that they always try to turn things around and blame it on the media.

I cannot tell you how many times it has been implied that the “big bad media” asks Owens leading questions, only to later cut and crop the interview footage by omitting the questions being asked and emphasizing only the responses from Owens in an attempt to make it look like it was Owens who brought up the controversial subject matter in the first place.

I mean really Owens fans, really?

I would see no benefit in doing something like that because we all know that controversy rarely sells and that good, honest, truthful interpretation of reality always manages to market itself best to the masses who always seek to be more enlightened then entertained.

All one has to do is actually watch one of Owens’ post-game press conferences to see how his self-aggrandizing responses take advantage of an impartial media that would never attempt to “lead” Owens into responding to anything that could create marketable controversy.


The bottom line: Owens is fortunate that the media has been as kind and understanding as they have been.

Sure, other players have been involved in legal troubles the likes of drunk-driving, execution of animals, illegal drug use, unlicensed firearm possession, and sexual assault; but it is Owens who’s deviant, vile, and combustible personality stands tall amongst the “locker-room cancers” of the NFL.

I believe in giving out “second chances;” but it’s hard to justify doing so for someone with Owens’ resume.

Hopefully another team isn’t lured into another impending “self-implosion” that always seems to come about whenever T.O. is involved.

Personally, I don’t think all the jersey sales, ticket sales, commanded double-coverage, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches are worth the risk of being subjected to more of Terrell Owens.

Just ask the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills, and Bengals; all of whom would have attained much greater success had Owens and all of his “big numbers” not been part of the picture.

It might not be quantifiable; but “it is what it is” just because…I said so.

The public has never asked for more of an explanation; so why start giving one now?

It just “sounds right.”

Which is all most ever needed to begin with.


Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report.

Professional inquiries can be directed to his email: bleacherreporter@yahoo.com

Follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael

Big thanks to Terrell Owens himself for posting a link to this article on his Twitter profile!

Follow T.O. on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/terrellowens


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