Can Terrell Owens' Ego Fit in Ralph Wilson Stadium?

Samuel Bell JrSenior Analyst IMarch 10, 2009

When the stadium lights are flipped on and it's time to hit the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, there's one thing the players can count on.

There will be a building full of dedicated fans screaming to the chant, "Let's go Buffalo!"

In a relatively small market, the City of Buffalo has managed to keep professional sports in the cold temperatures of the upper Northeast through outstanding fan support and the hometown feel that the Bills organization has maintained.

It's no secret—Buffalo isn't exactly a bustling city, as population and jobs have been on a decline since the death of the industrial revolution. Combine that with the fact that Buffalo is consistently in the top-three in murders per capita, and you have a pretty depressing area.

The Bills have always been a source of pride for Buffalonians, and I'll bet that 90 percent of the area's population is Bills fans. Nearby Rochester also adds many more fans, and as a result, season tickets are very popular.

There's one big problem though. The team isn't winning.

It's hard for any team to stay relevant to their fan base if they are losing. Consistent losers suffer at the box office and in fan support, and the Bills have joined that list with teams like the Clippers and Cubs.

Even the Cubs got their fans excited last season, winning the pennant and making the playoffs, despite being eliminated in the ALDS.

It has been 10 years since the Bills made the postseason, and many fans have began the proverbial bashing of the team. Some have even rumored the Bills potentially moving to Toronto, and that is evident with the one game they play there a year.

Times have been tough since the Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed days in Buffalo, and fans are willing to do anything to help the Bills win.

After starting 4-0 and 5-1 last season, the Bills lost quarterback Trent Edwards to a concussion and lost their season, as they finished 7-9 for the third season in a row.

Another failed season, and more talk of potential moves in the offseason.

It was agreed that the Bills needed a jump to their engine, and the free agent period started very calm for the Bills. There were no big signings, and it seemed they would put the same team on the field next season.

That was until the Dallas Cowboys decided to release a talented but troubled wide out by the name of Terrell Eldorado Owens, a perceived locker room problem who has had his share of problems in the past.

The immediate talk was where would T.O. end up?

Maybe his former team San Francisco? Potentially Oakland? Al Davis has no problem signing troublemakers. Minnesota to be paired with Adrian Peterson?


The Bills have been slow to sign big-name free agents in the past, and many wished they would take the chance on someone.

Marvin Harrison, released by the Colts recently? Maybe aging veteran RB Fred Taylor, released by the Jaguars?

Once again, nope.

When the news arrived, the sound of silence that could be witnessed in many Bills fans' homes was deafening. The Buffalo Bills have signed Terrell Owens to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with $4 million guaranteed.

They did what?

Not only did the Bills make a free-agent explosion, but they did it with arguably the biggest team cancer in recent memory. No matter the frustration, the Bills haven't had ego issues in the locker room.

Bringing in T.O. with a young quarterback in Edwards? Seems like an extremely risky move. Desperate even.

It is.

A franchise that is facing a shrinking economy in a shrinking market that has been giving the public disappointment for their hard-earned money had to do something.

There hasn't been this big a name in Buffalo since Drew Bledsoe, and we know how that turned out.

Owens is easily the most accomplished player to arrive in Buffalo, and this is easily the biggest move of the offseason, so far.

Question is, will prayers be answered for Bills fans or headaches renewed and intensified?

It doesn't matter.

Whether this experiment works out or not, it does one big thing for Bills fans and followers: it shows them this team wants to win.

The guts it took Ralph Wilson and that front office to sign Owens is somewhat admirable, and tells the rest of the league that the Bills want to compete, even if it's in the form of a 35-year-old ego-packin' self-lovin' receiver.

They want to end the playoff drought and do it now.

Can Owens stay on his best behavior all season in a small market like Buffalo?

Only T.O. knows that answer, but one thing we know is the annual birthday party and big city distractions don't exist in Buffalo for Owens, and Willis McGahee could tell him that.

He will be in the cold for most the season, and fans will be hard on him if he brings trouble for their beloved Bills. Fans in Buffalo are nothing like the Cowboys supporters who let him off the hook too much.

Owens will need to humble himself to play with Edwards, Lee Evans, and Marshawn Lynch.

Can he do it?

The answer may lie in his desire to continue to play in the NFL at age 36. If he gives Dick Jauron migraines, Buffalo may be his last destination.

He doesn't want to retire a Bill—does he?

He might not have a choice.


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