Mitch PalazzoThe clock slowly ticked away as the score board read Patriots 24, Eagles 21. Pinned deep in their own territory, the Eagles casually attempted a to mount a comeback against a tough New England team that gave up a fourth quarter touchdown to the birds, but cost enough time to virtually give the Patriots another ring. As the clock and the Eagles Super Bowl dreams died every Philadelphia sports fan across the nation was left with that sickening feeling of defeat in their stomach and one burning question: What happened?
This question was answered the following day not by Eagles controversial wide out Terrell Owens, but by Eagles center Hank Fraley who told Comcast reporters that quarterback Donavon McNabb was sick during their final touchdown drive. This accusation was met with little hostility and was denied by McNabb at the Pro Bowl. Fast Forward to April 11, 2005 when, amidst a contract dispute, Owens called out McNabb in an ESPN.com interview saying ” I wasn’t the one who got tired in the Super Bowl.”
From the moment that comment was presented on ESPN’s airing of Sportscenter that night, T.O went from hero to zero in the minds of Eagles fans across the area. Terrell Owens went from the courageous player who risked career ending injury in the Super Bowl to just another greedy, attention-hogging athlete who should be sent on the first flight out of Philadelphia International. The cocky attitude that Eagles fans fell in love with just months before, was suddenly turned against him as T.O became public enemy number 1. My only question is Why?
This was not the first and certainly not the last time a player has called out another player on his team. Their have always been disputed between players and coaches in NFL especially between the QB and his wide receivers. Philadelphia simply has to accept this as part of the game, and one competitor wanting more out his teammate.
Perhaps it was the heated and ridiculously publicized contract dispute between T.O. and the Eagles organization. While most got the impression that Terrell Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus wanted the superstar receiver to be one of the highest paid athletes in the league: this was not the case. The Eagles stingy front office, along with the rest of the NFL, is notorious for giving players big money contracts and cutting them before the bulk of the money came into play.
In the NFL, where the only money guaranteed is in signing bonuses, contract negotiations are commonplace and hold-outs happen every year. Star receivers Jevon Walker of Green Bay and Hines Ward of Pittsburg both were long time hold-outs and Walker even had words with legendary quarterback Brett Favre. Therefore T.O. was not the only unhappy camper in the NFL and should not be treated that way. The fact remains that if the stubborn and arrogant Eagles had just reconstructed Owens’ contract to guarantee him front end money they would be a Super Bowl favorite instead of a question mark.
Amongst the fan hysteria and glory of winning in the National Football League fans forget that it is business where business decisions are made everyday. In the case of T.O it is either the million dollar player or the billion dollar owner that gets the payday. So for the next six months lets stop the public bashing of T.O., because the truth remains that without him, we aren’t going to Detroit.