Uh oh. Here comes T.O.
Monday, March 09, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Welcome to the sports fan's dilemma.

There I was, composing a post a few days ago that started like this:
Please DO let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. First of all, allow me to say in my best Nelson Muntz voice, "Ha ha!" to the news that Terrell Owens has been cut from the Dallas Cowboys. I can't say that I'm sad to see him go (though I hate the Cowboys, so it was a nice bit of synergy having a hated team AND a hated player together, so that I might better focus my laser-like hate).
I was planning to speculate on where he might go next, with the toxic Oakland Raiders as the most likely destination. However, I was busy and I put off posting that because I got distracted. I was about to pick it up again, when I logged on and saw this news: "Terrell Owens shuffling off to Buffalo" on Sports Illustrated.

After I finished running out to my front yard, dropping down on my knees and screaming "Noooooooooooo!" to the heavens, I tried to contemplate how this would affect my fandom in the coming 2009 NFL season. Now, my analysis of whether this is a good signing, strategically speaking, for the Bills and TO is one matter (which I'll do at the end of the post). But what about the larger issue of TO's continuing dickitude over the course of his career and the fact that I took great pleasure in mocking fans who blindly embrace jerk players the minute they sign with their club?

It is the nature of fans, I suppose, to blindly love their team. It's an attitude of "He may be a villian, but he's OUR villian, god dammit." Hence, the love for Barry Bonds in San Francisco, TO for the first few years of his tenure with the Cowboys, and so on. Still, even as villians go, TO stands head and shoulder above most of the usual suspects in the league. At least if a guy is being villianous, it's usually in the service of the team. Dancing on the star at Dallas may have almost provoked a riot, but ultimately it was an insult to the enemy, not to his own team. Others may hurt their team by getting unsportsmanlike penalty flags, but they are at least providing a small mental boost to their team if they acquire that penalty with a particularly hilarious and inspiring celebration (think the popcorn stunt, or the sharpie in the sock stunt, that TO has pulled in the past). With Terrell Owens, however, the ultimate sin he has committed 3 different times now has been the utter destruction of team cohesion, as each time he ultimately attacked his QB verbally in the press and turned teammates against one another in the locker room. How can a fan truly support a player like that, when deep down, we all sort of think it's only a matter of time before it happens again? How can you support a team that's stupid enough to think they'll be the exception instead of the rule this time around?

All these concerns aside, here's why it'll probably work out for the Bills:
  • Terrell Owens has only been signed to a one year deal. He usually takes 2-3 years on a team before he really starts acting up. I assume TO will be on his best behavior for the first year. If he sucks, it's very easy to just cut him next season.
  • They desperately needed to inject life into the offense. This is a team with only 26 TD passes in 2 YEARS, with only 15 of those going to WRs.
  • Not only is the offense bad, but the club suffers from being in a small market, and therefore they desperately need some excitement on the team in general. The team has struggled since the hey-day of Jim Kelly and company, and outside of Western NY, no one really cares about the Bills. This signing brings national attention to the club, so Bills fans outside the state now may actually get to see the Bills broadcast as a featured game of the week more than once this season.
  • Even though his skills are dimished, TO still needs to be respected by opposing teams. This means that Lee Evans will be open more. Evans has struggled with no other quality WR to take the pressure off him.
  • Owens is a physical specimen, and he gives young Trent Edwards a huge target to throw at. This is a big deal in the AFC East, where the NY Jets are starting to look like a very dangerous defense under new head coach Rex Ryan. Edwards will need all the safety valves he can get in the face of pass rushers like Bart Scott.
The Bills have been so lowly, it's tempting for a fan to want to see them succeed at any cost. Doesn't poor old Western NY deserve something good for a change? I can see why fans find it in themselves to embrace the most unlikely "heroes". Ultimately, though, for me personally, there's still some lines I can't cross. While I still hope that someday the Bills get their sh*t together and win the big one, while TO is on the team, my affections shall lie elsewhere.

Just say "No" to T.O.

Edit: the always excellent Peter King over at Sports Illustrated has a great article up about the Terrell Owens/Bills situation.
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