Indeed, it's always something with T.O., and gloriously so: the Sharpie in the sock; blowing off Baltimore; spiking the Dallas star; the miracle ankle; noting that he wasn't the one who got tired during the Super Bowl; questioning the heterosexuality of an ex-teammate who just happens to be dating a Playmate.
Honestly, who else but Owens could make the inimitably irritating Drew Rosenhaus so visible, so omnipresent that at this rate,he'll probably end up on the cover of next year's Madden?
Answer? No one, save the people who managed Tom Cruise's recent publicity tour. Which is why I miss Owens already. And why I fret for my profession. It's not that we're lacking other stories to cover -- between Rafael Palmeiro and fantasy football guides, that's at least two weeks of deceased equine abuse. Giddyup! No, the real problem is the same one facing SUV Nation at the gas pump: our insatiable demand outstrips supply.
What, you think a Kobe Goes To Colorado happens every week?
Once upon a time, there were three networks and one ESPN. The Internet was a gleam in Al Gore's eye. Fuel-efficient import cars and a tape-delayed NBA Finals sufficed. But no longer. In a 24-7 era when "The Ocho" is less a joke than manifest destiny, sports expansion -- and that includes the pyramid-scheme NHL -- simply hasn't kept up with media growth.
Think about it: We created the X Games, televised poker, the Laureus World Sports Awards, dogs long-jumping into ponds. Oh, and somebody greenlighted the XFL. Still, the programming beast remains hungry. A fragmented audience means fewer stories have genuine mass appeal. As such, a proven attention magnet like Owens is worth his weight in diamonds.
Fortunately, T.O. seems to grasp this intuitively. Maybe he's just a narcissist. Either way, Owens is good for the Fourth Estate, and even better for our bottom line. On Wednesday, after leaving training camp, Owens traveled to his New Jersey home. A media gaggle quickly assembled.
With helicopters overhead and every microphone not stationed in Aruba surrounding him, Owens worked out on his front lawn, answering questions while popping off crunches.
If you knew Westbrook was going to hold out, would that have changed your decision?
Do you think today's proceedings were unfair, what took place?
Do you usually do sit-ups in your driveway?
"Yeah, I figured since you guys were out here, I didn't want you guys just looking at my house."
Bravo. Don't look at the house. Look at me. I'm shirtless! Any athlete can say nothing; most, if the mood strikes, can say something newsworthy. Only Owens manages to say nothing, yet do it in a newsworthy way that makes him a lead story from coast-to-coast.
Compelling visuals? Check.
Humorous sound bite? Check.
Leave 'em wanting more? Double check.
For those of us in the chattering class, that's a walk-off shot, an All-Star effort, the difference between a poser provocateur like Freddie Mitchell and, well, Owens.
Had I not been sitting on my couch at the time, I might have swooned.