When rumors started swirling in March of 2004 that Terrell Owens could possibly become an Eagle Philadelphians were giddy. The day some professor from Penn ruled in favor of the Eagles over the Ravens was like Christmas morning for old championship-hungry men. T.O. was the final piece to the puzzle that James Thrash and his fellow average receivers were not. Sure he had issues, but Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb could change all that. Right.
2004 was set to be the dream season for Eagles fans with T.O. saving them from decades of defeat. Anthony Gargano wrote an entire book about Eagles fans' Sunday Pilgrimage last year. The Eagles were a machine. Nothing could stop them. There were good memories: thousands of Eagles faithful swarming Lehigh just to see T.O. smiling at training camp, Owens going deep on his first play ever in Eagles green in the preseason, T.O. owning Ray Lewis, skating in the endzone, T.O. and Donovan chasing each other on the sidelines like goofballs, and Owens standing on the star in Dallas. The Eagles were on their way to their first trip to the Superbowl in decades. Philadelphians had a love affair with Terrell; he was going to bring us exactly what we wanted and make others look foolish along the way. Then Roy Williams crushed T.O.'s ankle and our hopes and dreams.
What happened after that was miraculous, at least according to Owens. Owens was a physical specimen even among some of the worlds greatest athletes. Could he really rehab in time to play if the Birds made it to the big game? The Eagles won the greatest game I've ever attended against the Atlanta Falcons and the birds were on their way to Jacksonville. They got over the NFC Championship game hump without T.O. but they weren't going to get past Bill Belichick and the only dynasty in recent sports history. Not unless Owens could play.
He said all along that he would be ready to play. It couldn't have been scripted better. Terrell had those who bleed green in the palm of his hand. Coming back to play with a half broken ankle would give him the keys to the City of Brotherly Love; he could have been in the company of sports all time greats: Jordan, Montana, Owens.
In Jacksonville Owens performed incredibly, valiantly. The Eagles came close to the dream, but were a winded quarterback away from a parade down Broad Street. That wasn't how it was supposed to end.
Then it all came crashing down. Enter Drew Rosenhaus. ESPN interview after ESPN interview. Owens attacking his former best pal Donovan. Dirt, lies, backstabbing. Terrell Owens personality killed the hopes of millions. In the end, T.O. had to be T.O. It was as simple as that. No matter how hard Andy Reid thought he could get Owens to conform to his ideals, T.O. had to be T.O.
A T.O. divided against himself cannot stand. At least we'll always have Dallas.