- Gene Wojciechowski, Senior Writer
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I'm not a Terrell Owens kind of guy. Or to put it another way: I'd rather have a case of permanent jock itch than have him as a teammate. But that's just me.
It isn't personal. I'm sure he's an absolute peach when he isn't destroying a team from within. After all, the official VH1 news release says Owens is "a quiet, sensitive, mild-mannered guy from Alexander City, Alabama that's Terrell."
Of course he is. That's why the entertainment network is doing a reality show with Owens -- because nothing attracts TV viewers like mild-mannered Alabamians. Episode 1: Owens folds his sweater vests just so. Later, he dabs excess water out of a soap dish. That's Terrell.
Please. VH1 isn't attaching a film crew to Owens' hip because it's interested in the inner T.O. That's because there is no inner T.O. There's only the outer T.O., and the outer T.O. must be the center of attention at all times. Or else.
Did you see the quote in The Buffalo News from VH1 president Tom Calderone? Said Calderone of the show, which will debut in late July: "It's about the behind-the-scenes of Terrell, his quest to find what else is in life."
Uh-huh. And "Rock of Love Bus With Bret Michaels" is about the rocker's fascination with the First Continental Congress.
Why pretend? Owens is a human cherry bomb waiting to explode. He helped blow up the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. If you think he's going to western New York to eat buffalo wings and play nice with the Bills, you're as delusional as T.O.
If Owens were interested in finding what else is in life, he would send the VH1 crew home and simply play football. Maybe he would try to find some humility and quit being the first guy to point a finger when things go south. Or maybe he'd just shut up for once.
But nobody wants to watch that guy. Plus, Owens doesn't seem interested in being anything other than a fake enigma wrapped in a bogus riddle. Instead, he is the opposite of the cool, bearded dude in the Dos Equis ad campaign. Owens' beer commercial would be, "The Least Interesting Man In The World. Stay Shallow, My Friends."
I'm T.O.'d out. Controversial has morphed into comical. Owens has become a caricature of himself. He somehow thinks he's bigger than life when, in fact, he's smaller than his shoe size. That's the true reality show.
Nothing changes with Owens, except his age (older) and his receiving stats (worse). I even can tell you almost exactly how it will play out in Buffalo this season.
Right now, we're in the Niagara Falls Honeymoon Phase. That means love is everywhere as the 35-year-old Owens reports Monday for the start of the Bills' organized team activities. But remember, this is the part of the relationship when the new team and its fans develop T.O. amnesia. They simply forget what he's done in the past.
Instead, desperate Bills fans will convince themselves that Owens' arrival means management is serious about winning, that Owens and Lee Evans will transform a passing "attack" that accounted for just 14 touchdowns a season ago (only five other teams had fewer touchdown passes), and that opposing defenses won't be able to load the box against running back Marshawn Lynch. (That is, when Lynch returns from his NFL-imposed suspension.) And if it were Anquan Boldin instead of Owens in a Bills uniform, I'd agree.
But here's what's coming: Owens will freak out. And it will happen because it has happened everywhere else T.O. has played. The meltdown might occur during training camp or two games into the season -- you never know -- but it's on its way.
Here's guessing Owens will be on his best behavior during the voluntary workouts. This is per typical T.O. doctrine. He acts as though he's one of the guys, but it never lasts.
Something will eventually set him off. An assistant coach will offend him in a way that only Owens can understand. He'll respond by lashing out at the assistant in a team meeting or yelling at him on the sideline, preferably when the TV cameras can record the outburst. That's what he did in Philly and Dallas.
Count on at least two or three times when Owens publicly complains about not getting the ball enough. (Multiply the figure by 1,000 for private complaints.) He did it this past September after a Cowboys loss to the Washington Redskins. Problem is, local beat reporters went back and counted how many passes were thrown his way that day. The number: 18. Oops.
Owens will get hurt. Remember the bad hammy when Bill Parcells was the Cowboys' coach? Owens rode a stationary bike wearing a Tour de T.O. outfit.
He'll miss a meeting, get fined and say it isn't a big deal, even though it is. Spitting in a cornerback's face is also a possibility.
He'll defend Bills quarterback Trent Edwards, maybe even cry for him, just as he did with Tony Romo. And then he'll turn on him. Or, better yet, he'll invent a conspiracy theory and say the quarterback and tight end are scheming against him. Or, what the heck, maybe he'll do what he did when he was with the 49ers and casually suggest that his quarterback is likely gay.
It has been a few months, so it's probably time for Owens to write another autobiography. He has already written two -- well, three, counting the children's book of which he was an author.
Bills coach Dick Jauron can expect a confrontation with T.O. Same thing happened in San Francisco with Steve Mariucci and in Philadelphia with Andy Reid.
And his numbers will trend down again. Owens went from 81 catches, 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2007 to 69 receptions, 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008 (including eight games when his receiving totals were 38 yards or less).
So enjoy that T.O. reality show. But remember, it isn't a new series because it isn't a new T.O. Sadly and predictably, it will be another Owens rerun.
Different team, same ending.
1mMichael C. Wright