Bit of a scorpion-and-the-frog vibe to the latest story about former Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens. In this one, the sixth-leading receiver in NFL history has been released by the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League for what team owner Jon Frankel described as "lack of effort both on and off the field."
Frankel cited Owens' refusal to play in two upcoming road games that are critical to the Wranglers' playoff hopes and Owens' no-show for a scheduled appearance at a local children's hospital as the breaking points in the team's relationship with the receiver.
Owens caught 35 passes for 420 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games for the Wranglers.
"It's disappointing and unfortunate," Frankel said of releasing Owens, "but (he) could no longer be tolerated by the Wrangler organization."
My first thought was, "What did the Allen Wranglers expect?" Did they think Owens was going to be a team player? A dedicated, hard-working mentor to young pros who watched his glory days when they were children? A pillar in the community? If they did, my next question would be "Have they never read anything at all about the guy?"
The Wranglers did this for the publicity, but even that's not worth it anymore. Yeah, you can tolerate a lot of things if you're an Indoor Football League team and one of the greatest receivers in football history decides he wants to play for you because he's got massive financial problems and no NFL team wants him in their locker room. But when the guy blows off sick kids, I guess that's the breaking point.
I can't imagine anybody's got much sympathy for Owens. To his credit, he never made any pretense about why he was playing in the IFL. The man needs money, plain and simple. His problem is, he's never done anything, in any of his professional stops, to make anyone want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He kept getting jobs because he was such a great player, but once his skills began to decline, no one was going to bring him into its locker room because he was a known malcontent who consistently put himself above the good of the team.
After the Cowboys released him following the 2008 season, the Bills took a shot because they felt like it would help them sell tickets. He lasted one year in Buffalo and signed with the Bengals, who consistently sign players no one else wants because they represent potential bargains. And he played well for the Bengals, who liked him so much they didn't even consider bringing him back for the 2011 season. Still in need of money but out of NFL prospects, Owens signed with the Wranglers, who were obviously thrilled to have the publicity and were willing to give Owens everything he wanted, including an ownership stake and the right not to have to go to road games if he didn't want to.
But in the end, even an IFL team that couldn't otherwise hope to attract a player with Owens' level of name recognition couldn't put him with the guy anymore, and at this point you're left to wonder what other potential income avenues are available to him. TV reality show, I guess, but he's already tried that. It's going to be pretty tough for Owens to find a bridge he hasn't burned and cross it into a friendly place that will help him pay his bills. Sad, really, but it's a case of a guy who never felt he had to care about anyone but himself learning that there was a reason to think about doing that after all.