Single page view By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

OK, so Terrell Owens and Andy Reid aren't talking. How did this impasse come about? Let's consider the possible scenarios:

A) Owens, as reported, dropped a naughty word on Reid, offending the delicate sensibilities of a man who assuredly has never heard such coarse language in his current line of work.

B) Coach and player got into a heated row over Owens' impromptu driveway sit-up technique.

C) Coach and player, as Owens describes it, got into a You Shut Up, No You Shut Up tête-à-tête, of which no good can ever come.

D) Reid sent Owens home to play Madden NFL '06.

Terrell Owens
Seems like T.O. always has a mob of reporters around him.

Personally, I favor D. Whatever the case, the mercurial receiver has been suspended from training camp for a full week -- an alarming development which leaves me shaken. Frustrated. Downright fearful for the future, if not cowering under a school desk, waiting for the air raid sirens to cease.

And to think: I couldn't care less about the Philadelphia Eagles.

To the contrary, I'm worried about my team. The media. The boys and girls with empty notebooks, blank tapes, looming deadlines. The newspapers and networks for whom Owens is akin to oxygen, and only slightly less vital than a steady stream of advertising revenue.

Without our go-to guy, who on Earth are we supposed to write and squawk about?

The space shuttle?

The runaway bride mowing a lawn?

Brian Westbrook?

You may suspect I'm joking. Au contraire. Understand this: Sports journalism isn't exactly Upton Sinclair territory. Most of the time, it isn't even US Weekly territory. We cover grown men tossing balls for a living; consequently, we trade in spectacle and snap judgments, easy outrage and throwaway sanctimony. Terrell Owens is a selfish, team-killing cancer! Nice abs! Come story time, good and bad are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is heat, the hotter the better.

In a TiVoed world of countless blogs and cell phone poker, will people pay attention?

Will they care enough to yell about it?

Will they care enough to watch sportswriters yell about it on television … and stick around for a faux Jamaican guy hawking beer?

For us big, bad, biased baloney-mongers in the press -- in reality, a bunch of ordinary people trying to trip over the next "American Idol" before we get canned and replaced by Andy Milonakis -- such are the questions that matter most. And with Owens, the answer is always a blissful affirmative.

Hey -- you're reading this, right?

Like his team, Owens may have been shut out at the Super Bowl. But it's no understatement to call him sports media's reigning MVP, a prime-time performer whose sheer longevity dwarfs hot-button wannabes like Kenny Rogers and Ron Artest.

Remember when Artest was putting the finishing touches on the decline and fall of Western civilization? Or when Rogers was handing him the detail brush? Right. Me neither.

In a fit of uncharacteristic modesty, Reggie Jackson once dubbed himself the Straw That Stirs The Drink. In the here and now, Owens is the Ink That Makes The Headline, the undisputed king of manufactured controversy.



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