Whether he's been dancing on the Cowboys' star logo at Texas Stadium's midfield, calling out his quarterbacks in San Francisco and Philadelphia or taking repeated shots at the Eagles as an organization, Terrell Owens has been quite the controversial figure in his 10-year NFL career. Our Bristol experts weigh in on the latest Owens controversy and his tenure in the city known (almost all of the time) for brotherly love.
Theismann: Time to grow up, shut up, or leave
I left meetings with the Eagles coaches and players at 6:45 p.m ET. These meetings were set up for our Sunday Night Football game between the Eagles and the Redskins. Of course, once the news was announced that T.O. was suspended, the meetings took on an entirely different spin because now we wanted to know what the players and coaches were thinking about this new situation. Lemme tell you, there is a sense of relief on this team now that Owens is gone for however long.
Owens has taken the fun out of the Eagles. This is a team that features a fun-loving Donovan McNabb, an always-smiling Jeremiah Trotter, and Brian Westbrook, who always seems happy. Owens' constant harping and complaining had taken its toll on this team because it never knew what was going to happen next. He was the Grinch Who Stole Christmas on this team.
The Eagles are already in a dire situation because they are a beat-up football team playing in a division that is the class of the NFL. The last thing this team needs is more distractions, particularly from a guy who should be a leader on this team. Today was a perfect example, because instead of having game-planning sessions with the crew from SNF, they had to deal with other issues.
Over the past four years the Eagles have built a family organization that has allowed players to leave and come back. Sure, they have been strict in their business dealings, but that's why this team has been so successful over the past few seasons. Hugh Douglas left the Eagles and went to play for the Jaguars, and he told me he talked to his friends on the Eagles every day before he came back. The Eagles are the essence of a family in the NFL and Owens either doesn't get it or doesn't want to get it.
It's a shame, really, because Owens is the most physically gifted receiver in the game today. He's big, fast, tough, strong, has great hands, and wants to be the best, but he's stupid. It absolutely amazes me that someone who has so much to give to a team continues to take away. Never in my 31 years around the professional game of football have I seen such a waste and such a degree of selfishness.
My hat is off to Andy Reid and McNabb because they are class acts dealing with a guy who has no class. As much as Owens thinks that this game revolves around him, he's sadly mistaken and the tragedy is he's going to wake up some day and realize the game of professional football doesn't need him and neither does McNabb. Owens needs McNabb a whole lot more than McNabb needs him.
The biggest question is still left to be answered, and that's what happens to T.O. after this? Precedent was set by Jon Gruden when he let Keyshawn Johnson leave the team when he wouldn't accept the team concept. The next season, Johnson was with the Dallas Cowboys and his old coach Bill Parcells. I'm not sure who would want Owens, though. He's thrown Jeff Garcia under the bus and waited for the buses to line up to pick up kids to throw McNabb under them. If I was a quarterback and he became my teammate, I'd look out for buses because nothing has changed. This is just T.O. being T.O. It's time for him to grow up, shut up or leave.
-- Joe Theismann
Salisbury: Happy occasion for Philly
I couldn't be happier for the Philadelphia Eagles organization for finally making the right choice and getting rid of T.O. If I was the coach of the Eagles, I would make sure this was a permanent suspension and that the fans of the Eagles would never see Owens in an Eagles uniform again.
Owens isn't just a cancer, he's a terminal cancer in a locker room. He has the maturity of a 7-year-old and it looks like he'll never mature. I used to think he was worth the trouble, but he's proven me wrong as he went from punking his teammates to punking the organization. He's the ultimate I-guy in a game that is the ultimate we-sport.
I'm tired of hearing him blame the way he acts on his upbringing, because there are tons of players in the NFL who act like teammates who have had similar upbringings. He needs to stop using that as an excuse because it's completely bogus. He's officially alienated everyone now and has become the most reviled person in sports. Heck, the perception of Barry Bonds (who I happen to like) is of a choirboy compared to Owens right now.
What's really sad is how predictable Owens has become, though. This is the exact same script he followed in San Francisco, where he started out by taking shots at the quarterback (Jeff Garcia) and then turned on the rest of the locker room. Everything is everybody else's fault and there's no way that he's to blame for anything.
I remember when Owens was leaving the 49ers and couldn't stop talking about how much he loved Donovan McNabb. Now he acts like the guy ran over his dog or something. Let's be honest here -- this isn't about McNabb or Garcia, it's about Owens. If he was with the Patriots he'd hate Tom Brady, if he was with the Colts he'd hate Peyton Manning. Heck, if he was with the Packers he'd hate Brett Favre. This is who Owens is and no team should have to stand for it because as great a receiver as he is, he's 10 times worse as a teammate.
I will say this: I don't blame the Eagles organization for taking a chance by bringing him into the fold. He's a great talent and his problems with the 49ers at the time could've been a one-time thing. The Eagles thought he was the missing link to their hopes of winning the NFC championship and possibly a Super Bowl. They did win an NFC title even though he didn't play in it because of injury, and he performed exceptionally well in the Super Bowl. But it's time for the nonsense to stop. I can't see a way where he can be a part of the Eagles next season.
I just wish he was on one of the old Raiders or Steelers teams where a guy like Howie Long or Mean Joe Greene would slam him against a locker and tell him to just shut up and play football.
-- Sean Salisbury
Schlereth: Eagles will be better without T.O.
Terrell Owens' suspension is a message from the organization to the rest of the team. If the Eagles are going to make the playoffs, then they are going to do it as a cohesive unit. This could be a galvanizing moment for this coaching staff and the 52 other players on the team. This could get everybody refocused because there are two types of people in the world: energy drainers and energy enhancers. Owens is an energy drainer and he's sucked the life out of this organization with his constant complaining and harping.
This is a better football team without him because, first and foremost, you can't have a guy that selfish and that big of a distraction on a team and expect to be successful. He detracts from what the Eagles need to do as a team. He's a large part of the reason why this team has lost its offensive balance and looks to pass all the time. His great talent, combined with his ability to whine if the ball doesn't come his way, forces a team to get him the ball. Now the Eagles are going to have to become more reliant on the running game and become a more balanced football team.
Everyone says that Brian Westbrook can't take the pounding, but Warrick Dunn has proven that a little running back can do it. This organization must start making it a priority to run the football if it wants to return to greatness. I don't think Westbrook has ever gotten the opportunity to carry the ball 22 or 23 times a game and that's wrong. I'm sure that, if given the opportunity, he can be quite effective and will continue to be one of the most dangerous players in football. Sometimes those shifty guys can make people miss in between the tackles. The presence of a running game would also take pressure off the injured McNabb. Right now, he's taking way too many hits because this team chooses to throw the ball so often. With an effective running game, most of those hits will go away.
That said, there will be another team out there that will take a chance on him because he's one of the most supremely gifted athletes in the world. There will be a team out there that believes it can utilize his skills, but it's going to see the same attitude from him that he showed in Philadelphia and San Francisco.
-- Mark Schlereth
Hoge: Bridge 'completely' burned
I'll be shocked if we ever see Terrell Owens in an Eagles uniform again. He's going to have to be traded because he's completely burned the bridge with this organization and his teammates.
When the Eagles and coach Andy Reid allowed Owens to come back after a chaotic offseason spent bashing the organization and players, they set themselves up for this to happen. I said then that the organization was going to have to deal with the T.O. mess eventually, and now Philadelphia is dealing with him. This team should've put its foot down earlier and made sure this didn't happen again by either trading him or suspending him for a couple games.
Instead, the Eagles sent him home, let him off with a lazy apology and showed him that he was more important than the team. That was a mistake, but it's good to see that they've rectified it, albeit too late.
What's really sad is that Owens is an amazingly talented receiver. He puts in a ton of time making sure that he's in great shape and he could've owned the city if he would've kept his mouth shut. This is a town that wants a championship badly and wants players who are hard workers and who play hard every play. After his great play in the Super Bowl it was all set up for him. Instead of recognizing this, he alienated yet another set of fans.
If the Eagles are smart, they'll try to get a power running back for Owens. Unfortunately for them, if the Randy Moss trade is any barometer, the market for a talented but troublesome receiver may be limited.
-- Merril Hoge
Joe Theismann, Sean Salisbury, Merril Hoge and Mark Schlereth are analysts for ESPN and regular contributors to ESPN Insider.