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T(otally) O(utrageous)

Owens bears all the blame in Eagles latest saga

Posted: Monday November 7, 2005 9:42AM; Updated: Monday November 7, 2005 9:50AM


Terrell Owens has been suspended indefinitely by the Eagles.



LANDOVER, Md. -- You know, before�Sunday night I was convinced if Terrell Owens issued one of those two-faced apologies�about Donovan McNabb, he'd be back on the Eagles. Now I'm not so sure.

You know the basic tenets of what followed Owens' latest firebombing of the Eagles and McNabb, and you've heard about the fight Owens had with team ambassador Hugh Douglas. (Funny, I always thought "ambassador'' meant "doer of good will.'' Guess I was wrong. But you know what Douglas calls his role? "Bad-assador.'' In jest, of course. He's a community do-gooder, plus he's still a guy head coach�Andy Reid can use in the locker room to keep things loose. Douglas always was a great locker-room guy.)

Well, what was reported yesterday all over TV, essentially, was right. Owens got into fisticuffs with Douglas. The fight was kept under wraps until the Trenton Times�broke the story on Sunday.�FOX's Jay Glazer reported it was because Douglas accused Owens of faking a sprained ankle.�But there was more, as you know. After Owens ripped the Eagles' public relations�staff and the organization for not recognizing his 100th career touchdown�reception right after it happened, and after he agreed with an interviewer that Michael Irvin was right when he said the Eagles would probably be unbeaten with Brett Favre at quarterback, Reid wanted Owens to apologize to the team, to the organization, and to McNabb personally. He issued one of those lukewarm, two-faced jobs to the organization on Friday, but had several chances to make things right with McNabb both Friday and Saturday and refused.

I'm told Owens even had the McNabb apology written underneath the one he gave to the press Friday, but refused to read it.

Not to digress, but Owens has this problem. He just can't admit he's wrong, and he has a hard time forgiving people. In short, he will never forgive someone who he feels crossed him. Never. (I know that. As does Cris Collinsworth. Not to put words in Collinsworth's mouth, but we both think Owens is the worst kind of teammate ever put on the planet. Owens knows that and has little use for either of us. I shouldn't say little. I should say no. And just a little note here to Irvin. I know he's your friend -- now -- and I know you're loyal, but be careful. You're in the quasi-journalism business now, and you're looking pretty silly blindly sticking up for a guy you would have thrown out of the Cowboys locker room in a heartbeat 15 years ago.) And last winter, when Owens was out with�a broken leg, McNabb went in front of the cameras and said, basically, he hoped Owens would be back during the playoffs sometime because he was such a good player, but if he didn't make it back, the Eagles were a good enough team to win without him.

What was McNabb supposed to say? That all is lost and we'll never win again and boo-hoo-hoo? He's supposed put on the stiff upper lip and carry on and convince the team that they can win with Owens' understudy in the game. And they did get to the Super Bowl without Owens. But Owens, starting with the week after the game with the infamous I'm-not-the-one-who-got-tired zinger pointed right at the exhausted McNabb, has been a burr in McNabb's saddle ever since.


Michael Smith, the former Boston Globe Patriots beat writer now with ESPN.com, asked me rhetorically when we came up from interviews in the locker room early this morning, "How long do you think T.O. would have lasted with Belichick?'' Good question. I said I thought he probably would have whacked him in training camp after his insubordination�this summer. But then again, Belichick wouldn't have taken Owens on his team, at least not after proving he could win with mostly pedestrian receivers. The Eagles were different, obviously; they needed a�big playmaker.�But I said to Smith that he had to understand Andy Reid. Call him a pollyanna, but this is the truth: Reid wants to make a difference in Owens' life. He wants to make sure that Owens, an angry 31-year-old young�man, isn't an angry old man at 51.

I know so many of you will read that and think: There goes King again, falling for Reid's shtick hook, line and sinker. Uh-uh. It's true. I'm not sure a lot of coaches really care for their players, but I do know Reid views it as part of his mission on earth (not sure if it's a Mormon thing or not) to help people. People like Owens, who needs an awful lot of it.

But this morning, Owens is sitting in New Jersey, at his loveless mansion, and no one is telling him he's wrong. The only non-enabler in his life among those who really know him is Reid, and I would bet Andy's not on the pass list for granola, croissants and French roast in the Owens breakfast nook today. I wish I could tell you what's going to happen next. I can only tell you what my best guess is. I think it's a pretty educated best guess, but I'm also the same guy who picked the Vikings to make the Super Bowl, so take it with a�grain of salt. My guess is that Reid will ask Owens in the next two or three days if he's going to make a sincere apology to McNabb. My guess is that Owens will say he will not. Then Reid will continue the suspension of Owens as long as he can before cutting him.

At 12:11 this morning, Reid ducked out of his office into the Eagles' somber locker room after their 17-10 loss to the Redskins. He went over to McNabb and said,�"Come on and see me.'' He led McNabb, who played quite well on Sunday night except for the blown spike play at the end of the first half and the interception on fourth down in the final minute of the game, to his office and closed the door. They stayed in the inner-sanctum for four minutes, and McNabb came out smiling.

I don't know what was said in there, and I'm not implying it had anything to do with Owens. But I do think McNabb and Reid are very much on the same page, and I am sure Reid is not going to do anything that McNabb would think is counter-productive to the best interests of the team. I'm not sure if Reid knows exactly what he's going to do, but my guess is Owens is done as an Eagle. Even if Reid allows him the�chance to come back, he'll be too proud to admit he erred in criticizing the gallant McNabb, who is playing badly hurt. And so one of the strangest star tenures in NFL will be over. I didn't see it ending like this, but there's only one person to blame for it.

That idiot Terrell Owens.


This week's top 15 teams in the NFL:

1. Indianapolis (7-0). "It's like what Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh said in Bull Durham,'' Peyton Manning told me last week. "Remember? 'Winning's better than losing.'"

2. Pittsburgh (5-2). The Steelers are so smart. With 6:50 left in the game, they were nursing a 13-10 lead and driving for an insurance touchdown. Duce Staley ran around right end and instead or running out of bounds at the Packers' 2-yard line, he dove to stay inbounds and keep the clock running? That's 30 seconds less for the Packers to rebound after Pittsburgh scored.

3. Denver (6-2). JakePlummer at midseason: 12 touchdowns, three picks.

4. Carolina (6-2). I love Steve Smith, TerryBradshaw's pick for midseason MVP on FOX Sunday. But Terry, you can't tell me Steve Smith is more valuable to this team than Jake Delhomme -- and you can't tell me he's more valuable to his team than Peyton Manning or Tom Brady is to his.

5. New York Giants (6-2). Plaxico Burress is one heck of a free-agent pickup.

6. San Diego (5-4). I am concerned with this team's inability to close games.

7. New England (4-3). Starting at free safety tonight for the Patriots: Theo Epstein. I hear he's on the street looking for work.

8. Seattle (6-2). Sorry to drop you a slot, Seahawks. These things happen when you beat Arizona in a yawner and the Panthers crush Tampa.

9. Dallas (5-3). My guess is Bill Parcells longed for Saratoga on his bye week.

10. Cincinnati (7-2). I must have gone to CarsonPalmer's only stinker this year. He's 18-to-5 on the TD-to-pick ratio now after strafing the Ravens for 248 yards.

11. Atlanta (6-2). You know what never works, Mike Vick? It never works to say to the press: Don't criticize me anymore. Do you think all the talking heads in the network studios will convene meetings this week and tell the talent: "Pssst . No more Vick ripping! He doesn't like it and boy, we don't want to make Mike mad.''

12. Washington (5-3).I can't believe we all gave Mark Brunell up for dead. The guy can most definitely play. His accuracy under pressure is as good as I remember it being in Jacksonville. Maybe better. Joe Gibbs is lucky to have him.

13. Chicago (5-3). I say the same thing now that I said in Week 2: Kyle Orton will not be the reason this team doesn't maximize its potential this year.

14. Kansas City (5-3). I really want to like this team, and the win over Oakland sends me further along Affection Avenue. Without William Roaf, Priest Holmes and Patrick Surtain, it was a struggle, but it was a win over a decent division foe.

15. (tie) Jacksonville (5-3). I know, I know. A win's a win. But a struggling win over Houston? This team confuses me regularly. The best thing going for the Jags over the next month is this: Baltimore at home, at Tennessee, at Arizona, at Cleveland.

15. (tie) Philadelphia (4-4). I swear I heard Donovan McNabb singing I Will Survive, sounding just like Donna Summer, around his hotel Saturday night. (Kidding! Just kidding!)



Offensive Player of the Week

Kansas City QB Trent Green, and not just for his 22-of-35 performance, or his 72-yard touchdown drive on the last series of the�game to�beat the Raiders 27-23. But for playing so well with such a heavy heart. Eleven days ago, his father, Jim, died of a heart attack.�Trent went home to Arkansas for a couple of days, hustled back to Kansas City, caught the charter west to the game at San Diego and compiled his best passer rating of the year (111.3) in the 30-20 loss to the Chargers. He flew back with the team, spent time with his family around his dad's memorial service, got back to the team on Thursday, studied for Friday practice and worked with the team. And then on Fridayhe held his long-arranged charity event, Tailgating With Trent, which benefits Children's Mercy Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and other causes. He signed every autograph and posed for every photo, even though he knew he'd have to spend time cramming for his game -- time he really didn't have. The man understands his role�as the quarterback for an NFL team. He's aware that�so many people look to him as a leader in the community and for this team. He did a tremendous job in the wake of such a trying personal time and I haven't even mentioned the job he did in a must-win game, helping his team raise its record to 5-3, a game behind Denver for the AFC West lead. The league could use a lot more Trent Greens.

Defensive Player of the Week

(tie) Carolina DE Julius Peppers, whose two sacks and constant pressure on Chris Simms made Carolina's 34-14 win a lot easier than it should have been. Finally, Peppers hit his pass-rushing stride in the Panthers' biggest game to date.

(tie) Miami DE Jason Taylor, whose mid-fourth-quarter sack of Michael Vick showed how foolish all of us are who don't include him in the discussion about the best defensive player in football. On a third down deep in his own territory, Vick faded back to pass. Taylor, pirouetting perfectly around Atlanta right tackle Kynan Forney, blew into the backfield and sacked Vick. Textbook spin move to get to the quarterback. To me, Taylor's the guy who is forgotten as we glorify every new (and very good) kid on the block.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Arizona K Neil Rackers. I made this point in SI a couple of weeks ago and I'll make it again: Neil Rackers is the best player at his position in the NFL. Four more field goals against Seattle, including a 50-yarder, and no misses. That makes him 26-for-26 this year. He's also the league-leader in touchbacks. What more do you want from a kicker? I suppose Denny Green wishes Rackers could play quarterback, but that's a�different story.

Coach of the Week

Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil. Five seconds left in the game. Oakland 23, Kansas City 20. Chiefs ball at the Raiders' 1. First down. No timeouts left for the Chiefs. Conventional wisdom says: Take a quick and safe shot throwing it into the end zone, and if it's incomplete, kick the field goal to send it to overtime. But this wasn't a conventional time, Vermeil thought. "The last two times [the Raiders] had the ball, they went down the field and scored,'' Vermeil said later. "I figured if we lost the toss and kicked off, they may win the game right there.'' So Vermeil, leaving himself open to get skewered if the strategy didn't work, decided to go for it. The Chiefs called a Larry Johnson run up the gut.

And Johnson scored. "You can't say enough about that final play,''' Trent Green said. Agreed. Great call. And I wouldn't have ripped him if it didn't work. His decision makes all the sense in the world. Would you rather risk it all on a one-yard rush with a running back who's had a good day? Or would you rather risk it all on a coin flip?

Goat of the Week

San Diego LT Leander Jordan, who couldn't keep the Jets' John Abraham out of the backfield on one of the biggest plays of the game for the Chargers. Playing for the injured Roman Oben, Jordan let down his guard and his team on a third-and-12 late in the game. With the Chargers nursing a five-point lead at the time, Jordan allowed�Abraham to cruise around end and bash into Drew Brees' blind side, forcing a fumble that gave New York a chance to win�on the last drive. Very luckily for Jordan, his defensive teammates saved him by stopping the Jets inside the San Diego 10.


"I can promise you at this game there will be no wardrobe malfunction.''

--Sheryl Crow, the singer, upon being introduced as the halftime entertainment for the Dallas-Denver Thanksgiving Day game to benefit the Salvation Army.


The length of Joe Gibbs' tight, testy press conference on Friday: I have heard three estimates, none longer than a minute.

Lots of two-word answers. Lots of pursed lips.

This is no way to enjoy one's golden years.


For everyone who saw me driving like a crazy banshee Saturday afternoon down the Baltimore Washington Parkway (very nice road, by the way, but it's no Merritt Parkway, for all you East-Coastophiles), I will admit that I violated the law by driving 30 miles over the speed limit and using the breakdown lane for about three miles.

But because the Amtrak Acela was an uncharacteristic 57 minutes late leaving Newark on Saturday afternoon, I was in a tizzy trying to make a 4 p.m. appointment with Andy Reid at the Eagles' hotel. This is when you know you have a good life: You get to the hotel, it's 4:24, you're hopelessly late, and you jog into the lobby, hoping against hope Andy Reid is still somewhere in sight on the most controversial of game weeks. You look to your right, and there is the slimmed-down, tired-looking redhead, having been held a few minutes longer than expected by the ESPN crew.

That's not like you, Acela. I praise you too much for you to be that late.


It's not meant as a knock on LaDainian Tomlinson, especially in light of his four-touchdown performance at the Meadowlands that allowed the Chargers to stay in the AFC pennant race against the Jets. But I find it funny that Tomlinson, without discussion, is proclaimed the best player in football. I love the guy, and there's a good chance he's the best running back in football. But let's not�eliminate the discussion. For instance, why isn't Tiki Barber in the discussion, if Tomlinson is?

Stats of Tomlinson and Barber since the start of 2004:


Total yards over the past year and a half: Barber 3,008, Tomlinson 2,875.

Again, I'm not saying Barber's better. I'm saying: Why isn't there at least a discussion about it?




1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 9:

a. I finally see Ricky Williams -- 40 yards on his first six carries in Miami's loss to Atlanta -- lowering his shoulders and punishing defenders.

b. Someone named Samkon Gado was Green Bay's running back against the Steelers. That is not a good sign.

c. Graham Bensinger, congratulations. You might have gotten used a bit -- by both Owens and ESPN -- but you did 43 times better than any college freshman had the right to expect. You don't have a future in the business, kid. You're in it.

d. Wonder how much that weird sock combo will cost Clinton Portis. Did you see those things? One leg looked like it had on something Mary Beth would wear on a cold winter night up at Colgate. Same maroon and white colors. I'm guessing $2,500. This isn't his first rodeo, if you know what I mean.

e. The Visa Skycam just isn't the same at an Eagles game without Terrell Owens' frothing anger to document.

f. Heck of a job, Mark Eckel of the Trenton Times. The Eck broke the Owens-Douglas fight story in Sunday morning's paper. The best part: Eckel quoted a source as saying the fight was "like WWE Smackdown.'' I've never seen that, but I think we all can figure out what it means.

g. Unless I'm mistaken, the Carolina Panthers are the most complete team in the NFC right now.

2. I think it's hard to mine information about the stalled talks between players and owners on a new collective bargaining agreement. Hard, but not impossible. Owners can't talk publicly about the stalled negotiations with players for a new CBA, but one told me the public has no idea why the owners aren't fearful of a playing the 2007 season an an uncapped year. The public perception is that the Joneses and Snyders will bid up players so high the other teams won't compete. There may be some of that. But if there is an uncapped year, these factors will be in play:

a. Owners will not have a minimum spending limit. For instance, if the cap is $90 million in 2006 and there is no new deal and 2007 is played without a cap, the Arizona Cardinals could spend $45 million on players. And you know some teams will cut back. That's just the way certain owners are. So you'll have a huge gulf between the spenders and the savers.

b. The free-agent minimum on players will jump from four years to six years. Now, once a player has finished his fourth year and is unsigned, he's totally free. In 2007, a player will have to have finished his sixth year. Which means the number of player benefiting from the uncapped year will be cut severely. And players who are entering their sixth, seventh and eight years now will likely sign long-term deals because they'll fear getting hurt before the end of the 2006 season and not being able to cash in on the uncapped 2007 riches.

c. "The bottom line,'' the owner told me, "is that there will be very few high-quality players on the market in 2007 if we get to the uncapped year. The players are being sold a bill of goods if they think it's going to be a bonanza.''

3. I think this is what I liked about Week 9:

a. Brad Johnson. With a 15-of-22, two-touchdown, no-pick day, he did just what I thought he'd do. Play mistake-free and give his team a chance to win. Which the Vikings did.

b. Way to get that Hall of Fame ring, Dan Marino. Good job.

c. Neil Rackers needs 14 field goals in the last eight Cardinal games to set the NFL record for field goals in a season. The record is 39.

d. Shaun Alexander. It's Nov. 7, and the guy's got 949 yards. He can't be thinking 2,000, can he? Eight games, 1,051 yards. Not the impossible dream, really.

e. Miami guard Vernon Carey. He doesn't look like a wasted first-round pick to me.

f. Great intro by ESPN on the Sunday night game. Really good. Captured the drama and the weirdness well.

g. How about ReggieHodges' first punt as a Philadelphia Eagle. Dropped it right at the Redskins' 4 in the first quarter

h. LaVar Arrington. Impact player.

i. The Panthers are coming.

j. The Bears defense, which never has a bad day.

4. I think this is what I didn't like about week 4:

a. Chris Simms.

b. Don't be bush league when you score, Brandon Jacobs. Stopping at the one and turning around to look at the defense, then showboating in ... that's not class.

c. Remember back, oh, about 100 years ago, when Cadillac Williams was an impact player?

d. DanDierdorf's silly comment at the end of the Chargers' tougher-than-it-should-have-been win, effusively praising the Jets for not mailing it in. Dan, you effusively rip teams for mailing it in. You don't praise teams for not mailing it in.

e. Joey Harrington.

f. Philly's run-blocking. Twenty-three carries, 45 yards. Ridiculous, particularly against a team that came in allowing 4.5 yards per carry.

g. Gus Frerotte, who just played himself out of any plans for the future NickSaban has


5. I think it's so sad to watch these Packers. Two straight false starts when they're close to going in for a 10-6 lead. Brett Favre then gets whacked on a sack and the ball gets picked up and run the other way for a touchdown. Running into the kicker and an illegal block in the back on the same Steelers �punt. Illegal shift kayoes a Sheeesh. When will the long nightmare end?

6. I think now we really are finding out how valuable Ben Roethlisberger is, aren't we?

7. I think the one thing you can't understand unless you live somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard between Washington and Boston -- or unless you once lived there -- is the intensity of a big sports event. One of the reasons players love playing here, and one of the reasons guys like Joe Gibbs get drawn back into the game magnetically, is because the games are so electric and they feel so important. =I felt it Sunday night at Eagles-Redskins and I'll feel it in front of the TV tonight for Pats-Colts. So much fun. Such a gas.

8. I think the Seahawks have to re-sign Shaun Alexander. Not sure what else he can do. But he's 28, he's healthy, he hardly ever says anything dumb and�he's a good man. Now, I don't think he's worth a dime over $6 million a year, but five years and $30 million sounds about right to me.

9. I think you shouldn't order the funeral flowers for the Eagles yet.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. The goatee's not looking so good, Tiger.

b. House aficionado Shelby Morrison, the Redskins' media relations manager, might be a little too hooked to the forensic shows. She can give you a blow-by-blow of all of them, not just CSI. But it's good to run into a fellow House devotee. Great one last week, but I'm a little sick of Nurse Whatshername. A little too perfect, a little too cute. I can't see her being a nurse.

c. Trade Manny.

d. Coffeenerdness: Love the food in the press box, Redskins. Some of the best grub, particularly the Carolina pulled pork, which as phenomenal. But you've got to do something about that swill you call coffee. I believe my stomach has six holes in it this morning from that stuff.

e. I have to credit Pat Wixted, the 'Skins media czar, for getting to the stadium 7.5 hours before the game so a few of us wretches could watch the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. games. Thanks, Pat.


One thing's really different about this one: The Colts have a two-game lead over several teams and a three-game lead over New England for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. In an interview I did with Tony Dungy for this week's SI, he told me something I considered highly insightful -- that this game is must-win for the Patriots in the standings, and a must-win for the Colts from a mental standpoint.''

For the record:

•Peyton Manning is 0-7 at Foxboro since being drafted by the Colts in 1998.

•Manning has a 61.0 career passer rating in games against Bill Belichick-coached teams or Belichick-coordinated defenses.

•The Colts are 0-6 against New England in the past four years, since the Pats' three-Super Bowl run began.

•"And did you know we're playing at New England again next year?'' Dungy told me. Yup. Look at the schedule. The Patriots' 2006 home non-division foes are Indy, Detroit, Chicago, Houston and the AFC West team that finishes in the same position the Pats finish in the 2005 AFC East standings. Unless New England and Indy meet in the playoffs this year at Indy, next year would mark the fifth straight meeting of the two teams in Foxboro.

The Colts have a huge advantage on the defensive line, with bookend pass-rushers Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney combining for 14 sacks in seven games and four tackles splitting time at DT almost evenly -- Montae Reagor and Raheem Brock at one, Larry Tripplett and Corey Simon at the other. The Patriots have Corey Dillon playing at 70 percent on a badly sprained ankle, and they could have two guys running the ball tonight (Heath Evans, Mike Cloud) who joined the team last Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. On the other side of the ball, the Pats thought last Sunday night Richard Seymour would be ready with his bum knee but he couldn't go; he has a strained knee. Seymour should play tonight, but at what level? New England needs the VinceWilfork-Seymour-Ty Warren front -- all at least 290 -- to have a chance to stone Edgerrin James. One more note: Last week, in its seventh game, New England started its fourth strong safety (Arturo Freeman) of the season. They've had 33 different starters at 22 positions in seven games.

To make room for Cloud, New England cut Freeman.

Looks like that's going to be 34 starters in eight games now.

It's impossible to like New England tonight, which is why they'll probably win.

But I can't pick the Pats. Colts, 26-17.

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