The island just got empty.No one is left except for him, the brotha from anotha planet, the one they call Eldorado when he's in Alabama. No one is left but him and his agent.
He wanted it this way, though. At least, that's what I hope. Because from his ways and actions, I have to give T.O. enough credit to think that he knew what he was doing all along, and that this was the result he was after.Exile. Freedom. An AFC uniform. He knew the game and refused to end up on his back; even though by playing himself out, he sits without a football team for the rest of the season. But what about the Eagles? Did they play themselves, too? Not saying I agree with T.O. (because I, too, have left the island), but at what point does a finger get pointed at them? Not for allowing this to happen or to get to this point, but for failing, for the first time in years, to act as though they are committed to winning. Committed to bringing the city a championship. Yes, winning. I thoroughly understand the importance of chemistry and cohesiveness inside the locker room and on the sidelines of an NFL game and on an NFL team. I understand the significance of team. But I also understand that although there is no "I" in "team," you also can't spell "win" without that "I" unless you have a hotel at the end of the Strip in Vegas. The Eagles, for the last four years, have been the best team in the NFC. Four conference championships, one appearance in the dance. Their mission this year: Anything less than the Lombardi Trophy is a failure. So they're 4-4 and last in the division, and they decide that "conduct detrimental to the team" holds more weight than 47 catches, 763 yards and six TDs in seven games. On a team with an injured quarterback and a running attack playing on some Class 5-A level right now. And as justified and correct as coach Andy Reid, president Joe Banner and owner Jeff Lurie are in their decision to let T.O. go, the question must be asked: What they did might be in the best interest of the team, but is it in the team's best interest to win? Are they choosing morale and morals over the chance to win a Super Bowl this year? Strip it to the core. Ask yourself, Can the Eagles win the Bowl this year without Terrell Owens? If you give yourself the honest, unarguable answer of No, then you have to understand why the organization's move has to come into question. Even if you agree with it 110 percent. See, betrayal goes two ways. Just as T.O. betrayed the Eagles, the Eagles betrayed their fans. If Lurie and Banner are serious about winning, they would have let T.O. be T.O., let Hugh Douglas stomp him, let his teammates jump him, let Brand Jordan drop him, let him be the jerk he's become ... all the while, making sure that Reid and Donovan McNabb, as much as they might not like it, find ways to get him the ball whenever it's necessary to put fear into the hearts of the opponents blocking their path back to the promised land. Now, without Owens in the rip, the Eagles add one more team to that list of opponents: themselves. I'm not saying that Owens is the end-all-be-all in professional football. That cat just retired nine weeks ago, and the only other two left are playing in San Diego and New England. But Philadelphia is a team that has been Buffalo Bills-close to winning it all, and Owens is to the Eagles what Dennis Rodman was once to the Bulls: the difference. And when you are sitting on the verge of Disney and Visa Checkcard commercials, in the words of Len Pasquarelli, "talent trumps temperament," 25/8/366. But apparently, they don't feel that way in Phila. Apparently, the lesson learned in losses will be worth more than the victories achieved in shame. And yet, Brian Westbrook, who is averaging 25 yards per game over the last five games, got rewarded with a contract extension for five years for close to $25M. On the same day T.O. got Keyshawn Johnson'd? Coincidence, or twisted mathematics? I say neither. I say simply that the Eagles found themselves in a position of embarrassment they never thought they'd be in, even if they knew coming in that they'd run the risk of T.O. flippin' like this, even though he warned them in August that he would go out like this. And then came the tipping point the other day, when they had to make the choice to save face or save the season. By getting rid of Owens, the Eagles' ownership showed that vanity still has a place in professional sports. Principle over professionalism. Which is interesting, because it might not just be the ownership. It might be the entire team. It might be the leader who feels this way. It might be everyone in the 215 who is accepting a losing season. Because after the loss to the Redskins on Sunday, McNabb said this: "I think what we did tonight was we showed that we play well together. I think we showed that, given the opportunity, guys can make plays for us." Play together? Make plays? They lost 17-10. When did moral victories appear in the "W" column? The day Drew Rosenhaus introduced himself to Terrell Owens, and then together they introduced themselves to the Eagles? Or was it yesterday, the day the Eagles told Terrell Owens: peace? We might never know. And neither will the fans in Philadelphia. Because as disruptive as T.O. was, he might have been worth it for eight or 11 more games. At least the organization could have given the fans a chance to find out. Now all they have is: Wait until next year. If that year ever comes again. Scoop Jackson is an award-winning journalist who has covered sports and culture for more than 15 years. He is a former editor of Slam, XXL, Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines and the author of "Battlegrounds: America's Street Poets Called Ballers" and "LeBron James: the Chambers of Fear." He resides in Chicago with his wife and two kids. You can e-mail Scoop here. Or, join him in chat.