Who Turned Off The T.O. ?

Posted on September 24, 2009 by Patrick Moran

Terrell Owens is mad … or at least I think he is.

He’s not mad at you. To my knowledge, he’s not mad at me either. Other than ESPN, I don’t think he’s generally mad at the media. He’s certainly not irate at his teammates or the fans. In fact, he regularly describes the Buffalo fans as “fantastic.”

But something is altered when it comes to Terrell Owens. Until now, I’ve only heard and seen his legendary interviews from afar. Throughout his career, he’s been a living, breathing quote machine. On Wednesday, I got a chance to see Owens up close as he conducted his team-required weekly press conference.

I wasn’t expecting him to do sit-ups at the podium, throw Trent Edwards under the bus or take a shot at Marques Colston ahead of his visit here with the Saints. But I expected something, anything out of him to engender excitement and perhaps some juicy column material.

Instead we got a very restrained Terrell. Hell, Edwards’ press conference was more lively. Even Dick Jauron’s media gathering rivaled the energy of Owens on the stand.

It seems so far this experience in Buffalo has done something that publicists Kita and Mo failed to do on his TV show; turn T.O. into merely Terrell.

Owens spoke for a little more than five minutes Wednesday. Here are some highlights:

* On dissing the press after games, he said he’s “talking to the media and fulfilling his obligations throughout the week, and I’m doing my job.” Translation: I’ll see you guys on Wednesdays.

* He’s not trying to slight the fans by any means and loved the crowd this past Sunday. “Those fans were fantastic. Obviously it was a great accomplishment for myself and the team win.”

* On dropping the long pass by Edwards against the Bucs: “I feel like I let some opportunities slip. Obviously with the deep ball, I kind of relaxed and the (face) shield was kind of dirty from a couple plays before. I have high standards for myself. Obviously I’m pleased that we won and we came back and we kind of sealed the win. … It was not my best game, and I just try to perform at a high level.”

* T.O. loves him some Bills offense. “This offense has a lot of potential. You think about what Lee and myself bring on the outside, and you think about what Fred Jackson has done the past few games. Those guys up front are young, they’re working hard, and we’re growing as an offense each game.”

* He feels the Bills’ offensive weapons rival those of the crazy-scoring Saints but respects New Orleans’ offense. “When you get a team like that can hit you all over the board, and a quarterback like Drew Brees who’s playing out of his mind like that, you want to try and eliminate the amount of touches that he can have.”

* A questioner asked whether he’s comfortable with a seemingly decreased role in the offense compared to previous years. “I think this scheme is different than years past. It’s something I have to get adjusted to. … I just have to make the best of my opportunities.”

* Lastly, Owens was asked if he grew frustrated in the third quarter last Sunday. The reporter alluded to a camera catching him rubbing his forehead. “The camera is always on me,” Owens said. “They’re going to tend to put the camera on me.You guys can read into it what you want to read into it. I don’t feel the need to comment on what I was thinking or what I was feeling. The camera is always on me, so I understand that. … It is what it is.”

That’s it? The Bills are facing the league’s most explosive offense Sunday, and the game has the making of a classic shoot-out. You’re not even going to tell everyone to get their popcorn ready? That’s all we’re going to get out of you? You just have to “make the best of your opportunities”? Really?

Let’s make this perfectly clear: I’m not bashing the guy. In fact, I’m openly a Terrell Owens fan. Some love him, some hate him, and I definitely fall into the former. He makes watching the games more fun, equaled only by the entertainment he’s brought to talk shows for years.

I also don’t blame him for his newly found subdued demeanor. The guy can’t win.

I heard with my own ears what he said in last week’s widely reported press conference. Yes, he alluded to Trent Edwards missing some opportunities. But he also said that himself, Evans and basically the whole team did the same thing. Yet when I (regrettably) clicked to ESPN an hour or so later, it had “analyst” Mark Schlereth saying T.O. was already throwing his quarterback under the bus and well on his way to becoming the clubhouse cancer most have come to know him as (mainly through the eyes of media that thrive on overstatement).

The vast majority of Bills fans could care less what the media thinks. Not since Drew Bledsoe hit town in 2002, or perhaps going even further back to Jim Kelly getting off a plane, has this town been so energized over a player.

T.O.’s not off to a great start; even he admitted as much. But by my count, the score is one home game, and one fourth-quarter spilled bucket of popcorn. I can’t recall the last time a home crowd got that excited over a regular-season touchdown in a nine-point game.

Still, something seems a little off about his mannerisms since becoming a Bill. After a long career being the center of attention, has the media and/or his own past exploits wore him down? Is he going out of his way to simply fit in? Is this new, less vocal conduct long-term? Or is he a ticking time bomb ready to implode should the team begin to tank?

What do you think?

(Photo Credits: Mike Thomas)

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5 Comments on Who Turned Off The T.O. ?

  1. Geno

    I think he’ll accept the role for now as long as they are winning. It was nice to see Evans catch a TD also, I notice he’s not so vocal this week. Owens will def make an impact on Evans game by opening it up. Hopefully they go back to the screen game this week with Fast Freddie.

    Nice post.

  2. Joe Fo Sho

    The guy needs to explode, and I don’t mean the stat column. I thought this was why the Bills brought him in, to get upset when he should. Someone needs to be held accountable for when it’s 3rd and 6 and we do a draw play for 3 yards. Then punt on 4th and 3 with 2 1/2 minutes left, down 4 points at midfield.

    The best thing I saw this past week was when he was screaming to go for it on 4th and inches. That sight to me was better than the touchdown pass.

  3. SABURZFAN

    The guy is damned if he do and damned if he don’t. If Trent doesn’t get him the ball a little more and/or the Bills start losing, he’s going to erupt sooner or later. He didn’t come to Buffalo to be a decoy. Be careful for what you wish for because T.O. may just give it to you.

  4. WWOFTBBNR

    Thank you for this column. I’ve followed TO since he entered the league with the Niners, and through all the ups and downs of his career. He is consistently one of the hardest workers on the teams he plays for, and all he wants to do is win. He risked his career to try to get the Eagles a ring. The man is a competitor, plain and simple.

    When you look at the negative image that’s been created for him, you have to look no further than ESPN. Whether it’s Chris Mortenson, Skip Bayless, or soap opera star Mark Schlereth, it remains the same: He’s their villain. He nets viewers for ESPN, and with no competition, they can spin things however they want; hence Schlereth’s ill-informed words last week. TO has won wherever he went, contributed to the team, and put everything on the field. He’s never been in trouble with the law. It’s nice to see someone with some perspective for once telling it like it is.

    Great column Patrick.

  5. lovethembills

    sooner or later T.O. the productive WR will be unleashed

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