No one in sports has burned his bridges after leaving a team or city more unabashedly than Terrell Owens.
Despite being one of the best wide receivers to have ever played the game (just ask him, he’ll tell you…), Owens is one of the least respected, least welcomed personalities in the entire NFL. Nowhere is that sentiment more strongly felt than in the cities of San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Dallas.
Owens is one of the rare people to whom the adage “actions speak louder than words” does not apply. Quite the contrary, actually. For Owens, it does not matter what his actions have been, it is his words that carry the greater volume, and the ringing echo of those selfish and arrogant words (usually spoken at the expense of others) lingers bitterly in each of TO’s former “hometowns.”
Whenever Owens joined a new team he enjoyed a very nice (albeit brief) honeymoon period. The teams were understandably excited to have Owens on their side of the ball, and Owens was (at least publicly) happy to have earned a HUGE paycheck to play for a team that really appreciated his absolute greatness (just ask him, he’ll tell you…).
Inevitably, though, the honeymoon would end, and that is when the REAL Terrell Owens would rear his head.
Here is a brief and incomplete rundown of Owens’ infamous escapades, and why the fans of those cities now perceive Owens as public enemy number one.
San Francisco: Owens never got along with quarterback Jeff Garcia, and even though he shared the field with his alleged idol, Jerry Rice, Owens felt slighted that the was not getting enough passes thrown his way. He didn’t seem to care that he was lining up with the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game, he felt he was more deserving of the ball. The simple fact that he was not on pace to catch 100 passes was intolerable for Owens.
His tirades played a major factor in Garcia’s ouster from the 49ers, and then, after having thrown his tantrums and demanded that he get his way, he skipped town for a sweeter deal in Philadelphia.
The feud with Garcia boiled to a head shortly after Owens left San Francisco, when, during a Playboy interview (Editor’s Note: Sorry, no link here. Heh.), Owens launched a personal attack against Garcia, calling him gay.
Owens has also publicly attacked Jerry Rice’s accomplishments, the DE FACTO greatest wide receiver to ever play the game. He has implied that Rice’s success is due more to his playing with quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Steve Young, and that Owens would have at least equaled, if not surpassed Rice’s results if he had been fortunate.
By commenting that Rice was fortunate to have played with “quality” quarterbacks, he was also criticizing Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, and Tony Romo as not being of the same “quality” stock.
Philadelphia: Second verse, same as the first!
Once again, after frustrations mounted because Owens did not feel he was being treated with the respect he felt he deserved, as well as not having the on-field success he felt he was entitled to, he set out on another personal campaign to simply trash those things he didn’t agree with.
One of the biggest feuds in the NFL began after Owens made a comment that he “wasn’t the one who got tired in the (2004) Super Bowl,” implying that quarterback Donovan McNabb was the reason the team lost the game. He then further attacked McNabb by saying that the Eagles would have been undefeated if a guy like Brett Favre was quarterback. He attacked the Eagles as an organization for not recognizing his 100th touchdown catch, calling it a classless organization. He then stated that he did not care what the fans thought of him.
This was never more evident than when, at the close of the Eagles’ 2005 game against the rival Dallas Cowboys, Owens was seen leaving the stadium sporting a Michael Irvin Cowboys jersey.
After that, the city of brotherly love felt nothing but animosity towards Owens.
Dallas: Things went well in Dallas for a while, but old habits die hard, and Owens once again wore out his welcome. This time, it came as the result of Owens’ jealousy for the relationship between quarterback Tony Romo and Jason Witten.
Owens could not fathom how he, one of the most accomplished wide receivers of all time, could possibly have less catches that a tight end, and felt that Witten and Romo had agreed to draw up plays specifically to target Witten, slighting Owens in the process. This one ended with Owens and Witten having to be separated after a locker-room confrontation.
It seems like everywhere he has been, Owens managed to do nothing more than stir up controversy, alienate teammates, and alienate fans. His attitude of self-service has left a very bitter after-taste for fans of the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys, and while Eagles’ fans may feel it the strongest, there is no welcome-home party waiting in any of these cities whenever TO comes to town.