Terrell Owens has turned the Eagles into a complete mess, dragging along Donovan McNabb for the out-of-contol ride. And now there is only one way out for the Eagles. They must get rid of T.O.
Trade or cut him immediately.
The Eagles can't be surprised how Owens has exploded after one relatively tranquil season. If they are, they're fools. T.O. came just as advertised: Great player who rips apart team chemistry, challenges his coach and demeans his quarterback. He did it in San Francisco, he's doing it in Philly.
T.O is all about T.O. This circus is all about Owens wanting more money one year into a seven-year deal. And with the Eagles refusing, he seems intent on taking the team down with him. No player is worth that aggravation. Owens certainly is not.
There is precedent for teams to say goodbye to disruptive players. Eric Dickerson might have finished his career as the NFL's all-time leading rusher if he stayed with the Rams, who had a great offensive line, and with coach John Robinson, who always knew how to get the best out of running backs. But Dickerson was so upset with his contract and was causing such a problem in 1987, the Rams traded him to the Colts. He still went on to the Hall of Fame, but he could have been the best ever.
Jon Gruden had enough of Keyshawn Johnson in 2003 and simply deactivated him the last six games of the season before trading him to Dallas.
Owens' act in the first nine days of camp before Andy Reid threw him out was transparent: He's doing all he can to force his way out of Philly. But will anybody want him? Remember last year, the Ravens and Eagles were the only teams willing to step up and trade for him. Now he's added a completely unattractive chapter to his resume that should scare off any team that otherwise could use the second best wide receiver in the league. As big a distraction as Randy Moss was in Minnesota, the Vikes still got a No. 1 pick for him. No one is doing that for Owens.
Besides, cap space is at a premium this time of the year and it's virtually inconceivable anybody can pay Owens what he wants. "It's fantasyland," one GM said.
Another general manager, who can use Owens, was asked if he would be interested. "I can't get myself into that mindset," he said. "I guess if you take him, you can't be thinking about team chemistry. You can't be considering what the other players want. He can't even get along with McNabb and Donovan is not that difficult."
McNabb lobbied Reid last year to acquire Owens, who wanted to play with McNabb. Now Owens has completely turned on him. "Keep my name out of your mouth," McNabb has said referring to Owens.
Owens came off as selfish and childish with agent Drew Rosenhaus by his side as they were pleading his case for a new contract. You watch these two in action and it's almost impossible not to say, "Who needs this?"
There were rumors of a deal months ago that would have sent Owens to the Raiders to team with Moss, which would likely send Norv Turner into therapy. The Redskins, after trading Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner, could use Owens and we know how Dan Snyder loves to collect big names. But Joe Gibbs couldn't keep Coles happy, so if Snyder brings in Owens, then Gibbs could be asking Tony Stewart to pick him up on his way to the next NASCAR race.
What about Tampa's Jon Gruden? Is there a veteran he doesn't want other than Keyshawn? The Bucs are set at receiver. What about Bill Parcells? Owens would send him right into retirement.
"If I'm the Eagles, I don't know what you do," one GM said. "I don't think you can trade him. They are trying to win a championship."
The Eagles cut Freddie Mitchell in the offseason and Todd Pinkston is out for the year with a torn Achilles. There is not much on the open market. Cincinnati's Peter Warrick may be available. Koren Robinson, a former No. 1 pick by Seattle, will be available once he gets out of alcohol rehab. Then there's ex-Jet Curtis Conway, who seems to play for a different team every year. The Eagles can never replace Owens on the field, but his deletion from the locker room would make up for it. They did get to three straight NFC title games with average receivers and when they finally broke through last year, Owens was injured.
Owens said Reid told him to shut up last week and he told him the same. He told offensive coordinator Brad Childress not to talk to him unless Owens spoke to him first. Reid can live with this. After all, it took Parcells four months to trade Antonio Bryant after Bryant threw a sweaty jersey in Parcells' face at an offseason practice in June of last year.
But Reid can't accept Owens undermining McNabb. After Owens was critical of him in the offseason, he has given McNabb the cold shoulder in camp. They have expressed no desire to speak to each other. And McNabb says that's no problem. "Oh, I can go the whole season without talking," McNabb said. "Oh, definitely."
The bottom line is nobody forced Owens to sign that contract with the Eagles last year. In the first two years he would make $12 million, hardly a sign of disrespect. So maybe the Eagles would cut him before $7.5 million in bonuses are due in March. But if he had another great season and behaved himself, he would still be able to cash in as a free agent. He has jeopardized all that. He's due back in camp Wednesday. The Eagles should get rid of him first.