Sorry, Terrell Owens: Philadelphia Misses the Talent—Not the Player

Dan ParzychSenior Writer IJune 23, 2009

Philadelphia Eagles fans display signs about  the suspension of wide receiver Terrell Owens during play  against the Dallas Cowboys November 14, 2005 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 21 - 20.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Here’s a statement the city of Brotherly Love never would have expected: Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens misses the city of Philadelphia.

During an interview with Mike Missanelli on ESPN 950, Owens expressed how he misses the city of Philadelphia and their fans that supported him each game. He expressed how much the fans got him fired up before each game and how he had his best season and a half as an Eagle.

In the 21 games he played with the Eagles from 2004-05, Owens caught 124 receptions for 1,963 yards, and 20 touchdowns. Midway through his second season with the team, he was deactivated and eventually released.

When Owens first arrived to the Eagles in 2005, some could say he was the savior to a city that was in desperate need for a star wide receiver. Throughout his career, quarterback Donovan McNabb has been known to play without that “go-to-guy.” He helped lead the team to three straight NFC Conference Championships, all in which they lost.

After Owens signed with the Eagles in 2004, it seemed the team had found the missing piece to the puzzle that would get them over the hump and advance to the Super Bowl. Owens and McNabb wasted no time becoming one of the deadliest-duos in the league by hooking up for three touchdowns in Week One against the New York Giants.

That season, the team finished 13-3 and advanced to their first Super Bowl in 24 years. Even though he missed the entire playoffs due to an ankle injury, Owens played a major role in the Eagles success in 2004.

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Owens even defied his doctor’s orders and played in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots. Despite the Eagles losing 24-21, Owens managed to finish with nine receptions for 122 yards.

Whether Eagles fans want to admit it or not, it’s hard to imagine Super Bowl XXXIX finishing as close as it did if Owens was watching from the sidelines.

They may have fell just short of holding the Lombardi trophy, but the fact that they were able to get over the “NFC Championship Hump” gave fans and players high expectations for the following season.

Unfortunately, the Eagles’ 2005 season became one to forget before they could even begin organized team activities. When Owens hired his new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, in April, he made it clear that he wanted to re-negotiate his contract. Owens made $9 million in 2004, but was only supposed to make around $4.5 million in 2005.

One of the main reasons Owens was unhappy with his contract situation was because he would not be within the top 10 paid wide receivers in 2005, despite his impressive 1,200 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in the 2004 season.

The Eagles on the other hand, who have a history of refusing to re-negotiate contracts once they are in place, felt his contract was fair and denied Owens the re-structured contract he desired. Little did the Eagles know this was just the beginning for the “drama fest” that was about to take place between them and Owens.

The relationship between Owens and McNabb took a turn for the worst when T.O. made a comment that he, “wasn’t the one that got tired in the Super Bowl.” This comment was seen by many as a personal shot at McNabb, who some say appeared “tired” in the final drive against the Patriots in the Super Bowl XXXIX.

To go along with the comment, Owens was also remembered in the offseason for his famous “home workouts.” He stayed true to his holdout by boycotting training camp and set up a workout bench outside his New Jersey home to perform his own workout in front of reporters.

Eventually, Owens gave in and showed up to Eagles camp before the start of the 2005 season. However, he continued to cause controversy for the team during the regular season as he continued to make comments to express his unhappiness with the organization.

At first, the beginning of the 2005 season seemed like a roller coaster ride for Owens and the Eagles. In a Week Two game against his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, Owens caught five receptions from McNabb for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

The two seemed to have put both of their differences aside and were on the verge of returning to the best of friends, like we saw in 2004.

Just when we thought the drama surrounding Owens was finished, it reappeared a few weeks later before a game against the Dallas Cowboys. In a radio interview on 610 WIP, he made a comment that if he could flashback to the 2004 offseason, he would not have signed with the Eagles because of the contract situation.

First off, why would any player in the National Football League make a comment like that for a team they are currently playing for? The comment made by Owens was nothing but disrespectful towards his teammates, fans, and the Eagles organization.

The Week Five game against the Cowboys was one to forget for the Eagles, who could not figure out a way to stop wide receiver Terry Glenn, who finished with 118 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

After the game, Owens made headlines once again by supporting a Cowboys jersey (Michael Irvin’s) after the game. He may be good friends with Irvin, but this was still a questionable move by Owens considering the Eagles had just lost the game to the Cowboys 33-10.

When it seemed like Owens could not possibly do anything else to cause drama for the Eagles franchise, he went on to make comments in an interview with ESPN analyst Michael Irvin regarding McNabb. He stated that if the Eagles were led by former Packers quarterback Brett Favre instead of McNabb, the Eagles would be undefeated right now, simply because Favre is a warrior.

A couple of days before a Week Nine matchup against the Washington Redskins, head coach Andy Reid suspended Owens four games, for conduct detrimental towards the team. The suspension would eventually lead to him being deactivated for the remainder of the season, followed by his release from the Eagles.

One thing about Philadelphia fans is they have been given a nasty reputation for the way they behave at some of their sporting events. Some call them obnoxious. Some call them absurd. Ask any of them personally, and they will tell you that their actions speak for their love of their Philadelphia teams.

When Owens was released from the Eagles, the fans made sure they said their beloved good byes to their once awaited savior by hosting a “mock funeral” in the parking lot at Lincoln Financial Field before a Monday Night Football matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Fans were encouraged to bring their Owens jerseys to place in a coffin that would be donated to charity.

To some, this may seem a little harsh. In reality, this is no surprise to anyone who is or has seen Philadelphia fans act when they are aggravated about something. Either way, this action was a pretty clear-cut sign that the fans from the city of brotherly love were parting ways with their once beloved savior.

Now that his drama with the Eagles had come to an end, what else could Owens possibly do to get underneath the skin of Eagles fans? How about sign with one of their most intense division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys?

In March of 2006, Owens signed a three-year deal with the Cowboys worth around $25 million that included a $5 million signing bonus. The signing also indicated that the star wide receiver would have the opportunity to square off against his former Eagles’ teammates twice a year, including one guaranteed trip to Philadelphia each season.

When Owens first faced his former Eagles-squad for the first time in 2006 since his signing with the Cowboys, it was obvious he wanted nothing more than to march into the Linc and destroy his former team who refused to re-negotiate his contract and give him the money he believed he deserved.

However, Owens was lucky enough to even play in the game against his former team.

A few weeks prior, Owens had accidentally overdosed on a pain medication called hydrocodone. When the story first broke out, there were reports that the overdose was a “suicide attempt” for a depressed Owens.

However, he confirmed the next day, after his release from the hospital, that it was not a suicide attempt and that he had just experienced an allergic reaction with another supplementary he had been taking.

Owens and the Cowboys found themselves visiting the Eagles during Week Five of the 2006 regular season. This game may have been one of the most hyped-up Eagles games of all time as the fans wanted to see nothing more than a Cowboys loss and a disappointed Owens on the sideline.

In the end, it was McNabb and the Eagles who got the last laugh, as they went on to defeat the Cowboys 38-24 in a game that was sealed towards the end after Drew Bledsoe threw a late interception that was returned 102 yards by Lito Sheppard for a touchdown to put the Eagles up 14.

Throughout the entire game, the fans would boo and call-out Owens any time he even came near the ball. There were even chants of “O.D.” in regards to his overdose experience (talk about harsh).

He had gone from one of the most beloved players to one of the most hated in a span of a year. He finished the game with just three receptions for 45 yards, but it was his post-game tantrum that made headlines as he was yelling at his teammates in the locker room following the frustrating loss.

This routine continued for Owens during his three-year tenure as a Cowboy. There were games where he dominated the Eagles defense, and there were games where he was shut-down by some of his former teammates. Each time he returned to his former home, the fans would show him no-love and get on his case for every single move he made.

In his last game against the Eagles as a member of the Cowboys squad, Owens finished with an impressive six receptions for 103 yards. However, his statistics were not much of a factor as the Birds manhandled the ‘Boys 44-6 and clinched the No. 6 seed for the NFC in the playoffs.

Now that Owens is with the Bills, he will not be guaranteed that once-a-year visit to Lincoln Financial Field where Eagles fans can bash on him all they want. Whether or not he will get the chance to play in Philadelphia again is something we will just have to wait around for since we never know how the schedule may play out.

Owens may miss the way the fans fired him up before each home game. However, the way Owens departed the Eagles is something that fans will never forget.

For so long, they had waited for that star receiver for McNabb to hit. When he first signed with the team in 2004, it seemed as if McNabb would have a go-to receiver for the rest of his career as an Eagle.

Instead, McNabb and the rest of the team were left with nothing but a headache that was too stressful to deal with on a regular basis. Even the fans were frustrated with Owens as they wanted him to accept the fact that he was already making millions and should just do his job as a wide receiver.

One can’t help but wonder what kind of success the Eagles may have had if they were able to work things out with Owens. The talent he brought to the table each week may be seen as irreplaceable considering he is one of the top wide receivers in football.

Owens’ talent will always be missed by players and fans of the Eagles across the country. Unfortunately, the type of individual and player he was is something that will never be missed, no matter how hard the case is made.

"Dan Parzych covers the Eagles for NFLTouchdown.com. You can view his work here."


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