Owens Can't Do Everything
September 30, 2003 at 12:00 AM
By Matt Faust
After years of analyzing and trying to figure out Terrell Owens, it seems Budweiser gives us the best perspective on the receiver.
In a recent commercial, a reporter asks a football player in the locker room about the team's recent loss. Leon, the player interviewed, responds, "This is a team game, and I have to put the loss squarely on the shoulders of my supporting cast."
The reporter then asks, "You don't think those four fumbles played a part in the loss?"
Leon responds, "Not if one of those guys fell on the ball, once again, Leon can't do everything."
To 49er's fan's, this poke at selfish players seems all too familiar.
Owens, never a top candidate for teammate of the year, once again showed us why he is not the best receiver in the league. He dropped passes, annoyed teammates and embarrassed his coaching staff. Worst of all, Owens had a front row seat to Randy Moss' dismantling of the 49ers defense.
How did Owens respond? He put the loss squarely on the shoulders of his supporting class. Typical Owens.
While it was the offensive line that took the brunt of the criticism last week, the entire team, including starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, were Owens' targets this week. Granted, the team didn't play well and Garcia had an awful game - a 47.8 completion percentage, three interceptions and a 21.9 quarterback rating is not going to cut it. But saying that he is the only player that showed up and hinting at placing Tim Rattay as the starter, replacing the three-time pro-bowler? No.
I'll give Owens credit, he was dead on last week, the offensive line played horribly. However, singling them out publicly was uncalled for. That problem eventually seemed to blow over. No harm done. But Owens just couldn't stop there.
This week Owens decided to go after the coaching staff and team leader, Jeff Garcia. Garcia already came into the game with a sore groin, and the offensive line did nothing to help their injured quarterback. Garcia hit the turf on almost all of the passing plays. He had less than two seconds to throw the ball before he was swarmed by the Viking defense. How can you possibly formulate any kind of offensive game plan when the starting quarterback is under such duress?
But with such an injured and inexperienced offensive line, this was expected. Rookie first round pick Kwame Harris looked the worst of the group, beaten on numerous pass plays. But keep in mind, Harris wasn't drafted to play this season. The 49ers knew he was raw, and he needed a year to study under Derrick Deese before he could contribute. But the rest of the offensive line has little excuse except for lack of experience. If the 49ers are going to have any success offensively, the line needs to return to full health or else this sinking ship doesn't have much time left.
Couldn't Owens see how banged up Garcia was going back the huddle each play? The 49ers have a lot of problems, not just a poor offensive game plan and Garcia's inefficiency.
With all these problems so apparent, Owens' outbursts are the last thing this team needs. How well a player responds to adversity is the true sign of a great player. Time and time again, Owens has been the cause of the teams' problems, not the solution.
The argument can be made that even future hall of famer Jerry Rice blew up from time to time, and he did. Jerry was very vocal when he was displeased with his teams play. He would criticize Steve Young, question the teams' heart and complain about not getting enough balls.
But there are two big differences between Rice and Owens.
Rice always came up big when the team needed him to. I couldn't possibly list the numerous amounts of times Rice put up big numbers in a crucial game. Can Owens honestly say that he's done the same? Owens's most memorable big game performance came against the Packers in the NFC wild card game in 1998. Owens hauled in a Young pass between two Green Bay defenders and fell to the turf victorious. Keep in mind it never would have come to that had Owens not dropped five passes earlier in the game. Owens is a great player, one of the best in the league, but is he worth a 20 million dollar signing bonus?
Rice and Owens played on two different 49er teams. Rice played on teams with Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, and Tim McDonald. These teams had numerous leaders, and Rice's blow-ups didn't hurt the teams' chemistry much.
Owens on the other hand, plays on a young team where he needs to be a leader. In the era of free agency, few players stick around long enough to establish themselves as a locker room presence. There aren't other leaders on the team to offset Owens' blowups. The only other player that could be counted on as a leader, Jeff Garcia, was the man that Owens singled out, undermining Garcia's ability to lead the team.
With Mariucci coming back to San Francisco this week with the Lions, the situation has become serious. The team needs to win this week. If they don't, their season could be done before Owens' mouth is.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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