Media Should Cut Owens Some Slack

Jan 25, 2004 at 12:00 AM


Every time I kick off my shoes and flip through the sports page, I find a new article delving further into the evil that is Terrell Owens. It's become the latest fad in the Bay area.  When these columnists determine their topics, they must sit down and think, "Hmm…  I could write about who we're likely to draft in April. But no, I think I'll write another article about what a terrible human being Terrell Owens is." TO has become the fat kid on the playground, someone everyone can pick on. Nothing comes easier.

Owens is guilty of little more than speaking his mind and being right. When he suggested a quarterback change after Garcia went 11-23 for 108 yards, with no touchdowns, three interceptions, a fumble, and several drive-stopping sacks against a Minnesota defense that ranked 23rd in the NFL this year, he was right. Rattay came in and produced effortlessly, completing 12-18 for 146 yards against the same purple people eaters, behind the same porous offensive line.  Why is Owens a villain for pointing this out in the heat of the moment, when we suggested the same thing ourselves after we saw Rattay play a couple games?

When Owens screamed at Greg "Take a" Knapp that same day, after Erickson decided to run Kevan Barlow up the middle on 4th and 1 instead of going to Owens in single coverage, he was right. We were down 28 points at the time. We had nothing to lose. Minnesota had nine men in the box. A slant to Owens is a no-brainer! Those are the types of situations for which audibles were invented!

Owens is not as docile and politically correct as superstars from previous eras, but what he says is not outrageous. In fact, he generally says what everyone is already thinking. How many games have we watched where he's seemingly absent from the gameplan? Is he not the only receiver we have who's capable of yards after the catch? Is he not the greatest combination of size and speed the NFL has ever seen? He's not going to calmly funnel his rage and wait until film session on Monday to shyly approach his offensive coordinator and say, "Mr. Knapp. Could we maybe consider audibling to me when I'm in single coverage against a cornerback ½ my size?" Not everyone deals with frustration the same way. Some people are calm and rational no matter what the situation. Others have a quick fuse.  

This is sports. Athletes spend their entire lives preparing for these moments. Players only have 10 or 15 chances at a Super Bowl. Sports are intense. They require incredible amounts of time and preparation. Careers are cut short without warning every year. Sports are worthy or anger and frustration. The great competitors who place winning above all else aren't always the most cordial. When Bobby Knight screams at his players, it's not because he's a jerk, it's because he cares! He's passionate! Owens is passionate! He works tirelessly on route-running and pass-catching. He's in the weight room, in the film room, and in the rehab centers just so he can catch five or six passes per game. He absorbs bone-crushing hits and plays through concussions to give his team a better chance to win. When he's ranting and raving, he's trying to fix the problem.  That's how he communicates. He's not content to stand on the sidelines and accept defeat with a smug look on his face.  

In terms of his beef with Garcia, he's right on point there as well. Garcia made 9.5 million this season. Owens, 4.2 million. How many of us would look for work elsewhere if our company paid an unproductive employee twice as much as us? You can't blame him for being bitter.

You can't blame him for not wanting to play with Garcia. Do you think Brandon Lloyd and Cedric Wilson appreciated Garcia's wildly erratic throws in the season finale against Seattle? Do you think Tai Streets enjoyed it when Garcia threw the ball at his feet to end our season? Who are we kidding? Do we really think Garcia would have fared any better this week against New England, or last week against Carolina, than he did in Baltimore? If 49ers management is too dense to get the picture, maybe Owens should spell it out for them on his website.  

But no, Owens dropped too many passes this year to have the right to criticize. I would probably drop a couple of passes too if Aeneas Williams speared me so hard that my brain smashed into my skull.

But, he was talking on his cell phone after he had broken his collarbone in the Philadelphia game. He was telling him mom that he was okay.

But, but, he's not a locker room favorite. Jose Cortez was.

But wait, the pom-poms, the celebration. It's just hapless self-promotion. He's an ego-maniac. Get over it. The fans like Owens. He's an entertainer. It's a hobby for him. It's who he is.  He's not hurting anyone.

Owens wants to stay in San Francisco. It's his home away from home. He's loyal, even if the media has so quickly forgotten everything he's done for us. The punishment he took against Green Bay in holding onto "The Catch II." The shots he took in the 2003 wildcard game against the Giants. His blocks that sprang Kevan Barlow for his 78-yard touchdown run against Pittsburg.  His ability to pull a ball out of the swirling San Francisco wind and walk into the endzone. Try to  remember how many Sunday afternoons were saved because of his game-winning touchdowns.  This is a guy that's teamed up with Sharpie to donate school supplies to underpriviledged youths.  This is a guy who's initated a program to help fight alzheimer's disease in honor of his grandmother, Alice Black. He's given us his heart and soul for eight years. He keeps giving us chances to keep him. The least we could do is stop writing articles aimed at driving him out of town.
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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