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T.O.? Just Say No

Dec 13, 2009 at 11:16 AM

As I was getting ready to drift off into never-never land last night, I took a look at the 'Zone news feed, just to make sure that I hadn't missed anything ground breaking...and what I read was enough to give me nightmares. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Terrell Owens hasn't ruled out a return to the San Francisco 49ers. As I lay down, I tried in vain to reconcile what T.O.'s return would mean...but couldn't come up with a single positive.

Catches, Yards, and Points...Why Not?
I can already hear the chorus of shrieks rising up from the "T.O. remnant" of the 49er faithful: "AJ, are you insane? T.O. set almost all of his career highs here in San Francisco! Can you imagine what he could do for our offense?" Yes. I can imagine what Owens would bring to the table. He'd bring spectacular catches, lots of yards, and even a few TDs. As nice as that sounds...the allure of Owens' potential stats just don't make his return a plus for the Niners. You see kids, high priced free agents do not create winners...just ask Daniel Snyder. Oh...and if you were thinking that Terrell might wax sentimental and come to San Francisco for a bargain basement price...think again. This is T.O. we're talking about, remember? So the question becomes a simple one: Should the Niners pay top dollar for a 36-year old prima donna that has sown discord in every locker room that he's spent time in over his 14-year career? The answer is no. Hell no.

In Through the Out Door?
For the more detail challenged reading this right now, let me remind you of the particulars of T.O.'s exit from San Francisco. The year before he left, T.O.'s on-going feud with Head Coach Steve Mariucci played a huge part in Mariucci's firing at the end of the 2002 season...which set off a string of losing seasons the team is still enduring. After growing tired of catching passes from Jeff Garcia and sensing that the Dennis Erikson era would border on pathetic, T.O. decided that he wanted out. After failing to file the proper paperwork to become a free agent, TO was traded to the Ravens for a 2nd round pick...a move the T.O. fought tooth and nail to have overturned. T.O. went to the NFLPA and the media. Terry Donahue, the worst GM in the history of modern sports, was outmaneuvered, outgunned, and ultimately outfoxed. After what seemed an interminable amount of p*ssing and moaning, the trade was overturned, Owens was granted a trade to the Eagles, and the 49ers were granted a 7th round pick, and "also ran" defensive end Brandon Whiting. All of the aforementioned begs the question: If Owens was to return, would he create as much drama on his way in as he did on his way out? You bet he would.

The Process of Building a Winner
The 49ers are at a critical point in their development under Head Coach Mike Singletary and newly anointed honcho, Jed York. As with all things, building a winning football team is a formulaic thing...and unless the proper process is followed, the formula for creating a winner can come out all wrong. To this point in the 49ers latest iteration, the team has identified its quarterback for at least the next few seasons, has identified its star runner, its number one wide out, its number one tight end, and the major players in the front 7 of its defense. Given what we know about T.O., it would be safe to assume that he would demand to be thrown at...and that would take touches away from Crabtree, Davis, and Gore. Given the strife T.O. has had with entrenched starters Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo, is it safe to assume that he would likely butt heads with newly reinvented Alex Smith? Yes...almost definitely. This team is in a dangerous place right now...where even the slightest misstep could destroy chemistry that has taken a season and a half to build.

So, 49er fans...are you ready for bench presses in the driveway? Are you ready for posing on the star? Are you ready for tears at the postgame podium? Are you ready for alligator arms, sideline temper tantrums, and spontaneous press conferences? I'm not...and if you care about the future of this franchise, you shouldn't be, either. The 49ers are a team on the come...but are they a team that will be made better with the addition of an aging, overpriced, overly vocal superstar that has proven his acuity at acting like a petulant child when he doesn't get his way? No. Not by a long shot.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Chris
    I would welcome back T.O. if he realizes that he would be the veteran WR of the team and not the superstar WR. At this stage of his career, I think it's possible that he might accept a cut rate deal. And if he decides to act up and go against that "team" mentality, release his @$$. He wouldn't have any power here.
    Dec 16, 2009 at 2:37 AM
    Response: Thanks for reading, Chris. I think the scenario you've presented is possible...but I still don't know if the team can handle the distraction of a guy that has to be in the spotlight. If he came in and then got cut...he would still be a distraction. Do you think this team is strong enough to handle that? I;m not so sure.
  • kray28
    TO had no role in Mooch's firing....why even misrepresent this? Further, it was the Niner organization that decided it was going to let TO walk in free agency, not the other way around. It's pretty insulting to long time fans when even fairly recent history gets twisted for some self serving revisionism.
    Dec 15, 2009 at 12:36 PM
    Response: Kray, a few points: The feud between Mariucci and T.O. helped create a rift between leadership and the coaching staff, and between the coaching staff and the locker room. Mariucci's firing came in part because his ability to lead the team was questioned...and a big part of that arose from his feud with T.O., and that just is what it is. Next: T.O. intended to void the last year of his contract (a fact that he made VERY clear on his website and in the media), but his agent blew it by failing to file by the league deadline. The Niners had him, T.O. was stuck, and had already been making noise about wanting to play with a pro bowl QB, remember? The Niners traded him to the Ravens, and then T.O. threw a fit and whined until he got the trade he wanted. Finally, its pretty funny to long time fans when recent history is twisted by those who obviously still like a player even though he has single-handedly nuked every locker room he's ever been in.
  • Andrew
    AJ you are right, now don't get me wrong I liked T.O. while he was in SF, but his act got old, and think about it do we really need him to come in and encourage Crabtree and the other WRs with his actions to be a diva, I don't think so!
    Dec 15, 2009 at 8:49 AM
  • bmoneyt
    AJ you nailed it. I'm gonna throw a T.O. sized tantrum if they bring that tool of a wideout back. I would have to consider taking a leave of absence after 26 years of uninterrupted, unquestioned loyalty to the Niners. As painful as all the loosing seasons have been this decade, and all the terrible decisions that the Yorks have made owning this franchise, but if Jedbo & McGloughlan bring back one of the greatest all-time headcases in all of professional sports to give him yet another chance to tank the team that gave him his start and make it all about him yet again; I might have to find a team in the AFC to follow or just stick with college football until the Yorks finally, somehow get run out of town and stop getting oppourtunities to find new and creative ways to ruin the team that I love.
    Dec 14, 2009 at 8:36 PM
    Response: Bingo! But not to worry...I don't think it will happen.
  • Skilo
    Im in the same boat with you...the whole T.O. fiasco broke my heart because I was a huge TO fan when he was with us, you can't deny how dangerous he was at a time...sure time has passed but would you be totally against taking him back still even if he signed at a reduced rate (I doubt TO will go for a vet min) and maybe some good ol' Crabtree Contract Clauses. TO may be older but he can still keep DBs honest....if he accepts some clauses and a reduced rate I say we let him come back and retire (kinda) front philosophy...if AI can go back to the 6ers TO can come back to the 9ers
    Dec 14, 2009 at 12:17 PM
    Response: Skilo...after all that we know about him, do you really think that he'd fit in with Singletary's philosophy for the team? I really doubt it.
  • GrizzlyAdams
    If T.O. came bakc to SF, he would only be 3rd receiving option (at best). Depending on how Morgan comes along and what Gore's role is, T.O. could be the 5th option. Have you seen him play this year? He's sloooooow! Besides, can you see him pulling that crap on Singletary?
    Dec 14, 2009 at 6:37 AM
    Response: Grizzy: I can see you get where I'm coming from. T.O. probably wouldn't be a good fit for Singletary...and I have a very hard time seeing fit in a locker room with guys like Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes.
  • Paul
    you almost convinced me. almost.
    Dec 13, 2009 at 5:45 PM
    Response: Unfortunately, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
  • Ceadderman
    Hmmmm seems you read my comment on Barrows page. Though you did fill in quite But he did have 20 catches in a game. heh heh heh
    Dec 13, 2009 at 4:16 PM
    Response: Ceadder! Glad you liked the read. Actually, I didn't read any of the comments on Barrows' page...but I did lose a few hours of sleep at the thought of a teary eyed prima donna taking questions on Alex Smith, then blurting out, "That's my quarterback, man".
  • Chris
    T.O. come on down!!!
    Dec 13, 2009 at 11:35 AM
    Response: Ugh. You do realize all the drama he'll bring with him, right? Remember...if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

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