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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Updated: July 14, 3:01 PM ET
A Turkey Day edition of truths

By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Just one e-mail today before we get to the NFL Truths.

Hey babe,

Can't wait for you to carve into this breast on Thanksgiving. I'm sure Tagliabue can't complain about the Jackson family enjoying a little turkey breast on Thanksgiving. Heck, Michael is the "other white meat." LOL!!!

Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty.

Happy Thanksgiving! Here are your 10 NFL Truths:

10. Terrell Owens didn't create the division in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker room. Donovan McNabb's contract did.

Listen, there are a million reasons this column is considered must-read material by NFL executives, players, media, wives, groupies, cheerleaders and fans. What I'm about to share with you is reason number 1,000,001.

Like the rest of America, you were probably shocked to see Philly linebacker Jeremiah Trotter on ESPN2 stumping for T.O.'s return last week. And you've probably wondered why the Philly players haven't been united in their disdain of all things T.O. The guy has been a major distraction and a major pain in the you-know-what since August. To an outsider, it would appear that T.O. has single-handedly ruined team chemistry.

But the Philly players have been mysteriously quiet when it comes to criticizing T.O. Only team "ambassador" Hugh Douglas has had the courage to stand up to him. (And, by the way, according to several sources, Owens body-slammed Douglas and nearly opened a can of whoop-ass on the former defensive end.) All the other Eagles shy away from commenting on T.O.'s antics, or offer themselves up as mediators between T.O. and Philly management or T.O. and McNabb.

To this date, I haven't heard or seen one Eagle step in front of a camera and say, "Ah, hell, naw T.O. I ain't gonna let you talk 'bout my quarterback like that. Donovan is our leader. When you attack Donovan, you're attacking this team."

Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb's teammates haven't exactly come to his defense.
Nope. All you hear from the Eagles is some Jimmy Carter-type garbage.

Why?

Because Philly management has played hardball at the negotiating table with all of the veteran talent except for its $115-million quarterback, Donovan McNabb, who received a record contract extension in 2003 despite having four years left on his original deal.

Andy Reid and Jeff Lurie have no problem kicking a money-hungry vet to the curb. Just ask Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, Corey Simon, Hugh Douglas and Jeremiah Trotter.

Despite plenty of cap room, the Eagles don't mind squeezing their pennies. No one should be surprised that Trotter has elected himself T.O.'s unofficial spokesman. Reid and Lurie humbled Trotter in a very public way. They let the run-stuffing linebacker run off to the Ben Franklin-filled arms of Daniel Snyder in 2002, and then welcomed Trotter back as a veteran's-minimum special-teamer in 2004.

Afraid to leave defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's protective cocoon after flopping in Washington, Trotter, a Pro Bowler again, signed a below-market contract with the Eagles last offseason. Trotter is now living vicariously through T.O. So are several other Eagles -- many of whom are in-the-closet McNabb haters.

Think about it. Terrell Owens basically validated Rush Limbaugh's "overrated" charge against McNabb and no Philly player has come to Donovan's defense. If T.O. had gone on TV and said, "We'd have a better record if Brian Urlacher was our middle linebacker," I guarantee you Trotter would be offended.

The Philly players feel that McNabb is overpaid. That's not unusual. Most NFL players justifiably believe that the starting quarterback is overpaid. Emmitt Smith was always the most valuable player on the Cowboys, but Emmitt never got his money as easily as Troy Aikman.

The difference between Philly and Dallas -- besides the Cowboys' championships -- is that Jerry Jones eventually paid his veteran contributors. Lurie and Reid replace their vets with younger, cheaper players year after year. It's good business. But it's not good for team chemistry. And it certainly puts McNabb in a difficult spot.

9. I can't decide if this McNabb vs. Owens war reminds me more of Ralph Tresvant vs. Bobby Brown or Stringer Bell vs. Avon Barksdale.

Brown and Owens have a lot in common -- the mental instability, the need for attention, the lip gloss. Bobby was always jealous of Ralph because Bobby knew he was the most talented singer in New Edition. It drove Bobby crazy that all the girls went crazy over Ralph, so Bobby basically started stripping on stage and grabbing his crotch. It's really no different from a shirtless T.O. doing sit-ups in his driveway. If I go with the New Edition analogy, Trotter would be Ronnie DeVoe. Ronnie didn't want to boot Bobby out of the group. But when the members all reunited for the Home Again tour, it was Ronnie's crew and Bobby's crew that wound up firing shots at each other.

But you could also argue that Owens is Avon (from the HBO series "The Wire"), the on-the-grind hustler determined to keep it street. McNabb is making the same mistake Stringer Bell made. McNabb is trying to stay above the street stuff. He's got millions in the bank and doesn't want a beef with some knucklehead about street corners. It's a noble position, but McNabb is losing his soldiers, the men who are supposed to protect him from street urchins like T.O. In this scenario, Drew Rosenhaus would be Slim Charles, Avon's smooth-talking street muscle: "It don't matter who did what to whom. Fact is, we went to war an' now there ain't no goin' back … if it's a lie, then we fight on the lie. But we gotta fight."

David Carr
David Carr could probably use a change of scenery.
8. The "C-Amigos" -- Carr, Capers and Casserly -- all must go in Houston.

You can't really single out one guy for what's wrong in Houston. Quarterback David Carr still makes rookie decisions. Head coach Dom Capers still lacks offensive imagination. And general manager Charley Casserly has to be held responsible for assembling a horrid collection of talent.

7. Indy's defense is much improved from a year ago and played a decent game against the Bengals.

The 37 points the Bengals put on the board against the Colts is not an indication that Indy's defense took a step back. Stupid play-calling and Peyton Manning -- too many passes and a bad interception -- cost the Colts 10 points just before halftime. Cincy only scored 10 points in the second half. Considering the explosiveness of Cincy's offense, that's a pretty good showing by Indy's defense.

6. Herm Edwards would be a terrific choice to replace Dick Vermeil in Kansas City.

The Chiefs desperately need a defensive-minded head coach. Vermeil can't produce an environment conducive to playing sound defense. He's just too focused on the offensive side of the ball. Edwards is a terrific coach. He hasn't failed in New York with the Jets.

Edwards was an assistant in Kansas City under Marty Schottenheimer, and he has a strong relationship with Chiefs general manager and president Carl Peterson. Edwards would be an ideal selection.

5. My money is on the New Orleans Saints winning the Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush sweepstakes with a 3-13 record.

The 1-9 Texans have a much easier schedule down the stretch than the streaking Saints, losers of six straight. Houston has one game left against a team with a winning record (Jacksonville). The Saints play Tampa Bay twice, Atlanta, Carolina, the Jets and Detroit.

What will be interesting is whether Leinart, the quarterback the Saints desperately need, will agree to play for the Saints. I wouldn't.

4. There isn't one starting quarterback in the NFC that I couldn't raise legitimate questions about.

Seriously, if there's a problem in the NFC, it's at the quarterback position. Now that McNabb is down for the season, the NFC doesn't have a legit, all-star-caliber quarterback. Is there a quarterback in the NFC you'd rather have lead your team in this year's playoffs than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger or even, dare I say, Jake Plummer?

Brett Favre
Brett Favre is definitely not having his best year in Green Bay.
Here are the candidates:

Michael Vick: No. Can't pass from the pocket.

Drew Bledsoe: Too immobile.

Mark Brunell: Too old.

Brett Favre: Too old, too foolish.

Eli Manning: Too young, too inaccurate.

Matt Hasselbeck: Being carried by Shaun Alexander.

Jake Delhomme: Couldn't score against the Bears and made critical errors.

Chris Simms: Rather have Major Applewhite.

3. Vegas blows another one: Denver's defensive line will put a total clown suit on Bledsoe Thursday afternoon.

The Broncos might shut out the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Denver is favored by two points. I can't see them winning by fewer than two touchdowns. It's just a terrible matchup for the Cowboys. The Broncos won't have to blitz to get to Bledsoe. He'll fumble at least twice and throw a couple of interceptions. Dallas' running game won't provide any relief.

2. Reggie Bush is Gale Sayers.

I started saying this in September on "The Sports Reporters." Gale Sayers is the most unique talent ever to play in the NFL. There was no one like him before he played, and there's been no one like him since. Now there's Reggie Bush.

1. Don't be surprised if the Pittsburgh Steelers lose their next three games -- at Indy, Cincinnati, Chicago -- and miss the playoffs.

Pittsburgh's defense can be had, and the Steelers' offense -- no matter who is at quarterback -- just doesn't score enough.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.