Times are tough right now, and some people are willing to do or say anything for a paycheck. The same goes for Terrell Owens apparently, who despite being one of this generation's toughest and most prolific receivers, hasn't been able to catch on with a new club after a disappointing year in Buffalo. In fact, he's hardly had so much as a sniff since the Bengals flirted with the idea back in March.
Owens seems to have had enough though, and has taken to defending himself in the media from, among other things, a reputation for being a locker room cancer that he's convinced is preventing potential suitors from coming around. We've witnessed first hand what T.O.'s presence can do to a football team when he's unhappy, but what are his feelings about those past transgressions?
"There were a number of times where prior I probably would have reacted, said something I wasn't supposed to say," Owens told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I really had some restraint [in Buffalo], very patient."
"They're always focused on what has happened earlier in my career," he complained.
It's true that Owens kept his mouth shut last season, despite what must've been one of—if not the most—frustrating campaigns in his career. He reminds anybody who's willing to listen the Bills were not exactly an offensive powerhouse, with a system their fired offensive coordinator described as a "Pop Warner offense," and an O-line about as effective as a sieve.
Owens would also like to remind people that this notion he is a "bad boy" isn't fair either. He's not the guy racking up DUI's and drug charges, or involved in sexual assault scandals or interstate gambling rings.
"Some of the golden boys that they kind of highlight throughout the course of the season, those are the guys that are getting in trouble," Owens said. "Somehow I get lumped into those topics, which blows my mind.
"I've never been in any trouble. I know right from wrong. I try to make the right choices and judgments when I'm out in the public."
He has a point. All of this comes roughly a week after he publicly assailed ESPN for his inability to find work, arguing their constant portrayal of him as as somebody with character issues is keeping teams from picking up the phone. That probably has more to do with his actions in the past, but we're all familiar with ESPN's frequent lazy reporting, running with stereotypes more often than digging up the real story.
The fact is, Owens has largely caused this situation himself, but he seems to be genuine about just wanting to sign somewhere and play ball. I don't think he'll be left waiting too much longer, either. There are plenty of teams that need wide receivers (the Bears, Redskins, and Seahawks are most rumored to be in the mix), and plenty of time between now and opening day to add one.
They can't go wrong with Owens. Even if he's lost a step or two, he's still a huge target and a tough competitor, and his 55 receptions for 829 yards last season are likely somewhat of a mirage considering the circumstances.
>> Owens insists '09 stats are deceiving [ESPN]