- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Here’s what a nutcase Terrell Owens is: If he “writes” a book about his tumultuous season and a half as a Philadelphia Eagle, the odds are at least 50-50 he’ll call it “Mein Kampf.”

I’m also anxious to see whether he hires a heavyweight lawyer to handle his grievance against Philly management. F. Lee Bailey seems like a T.O. kind of guy — though I wouldn’t rule out Harriet Miers either.

Anything’s possible with No.81, which is exactly the problem. He can beat Champ Bailey, arguably the best cover man extant, for a 91-yard touchdown and then, a few days later, talk himself out of a job by biting the two hands that feed him — those belonging to owner Jeffrey Lurie and quarterback Donovan McNabb.

To alter, ever so slightly, an old football saying, there are three things that can happen when you sign Terrell Owens, and two of them are bad. He’ll put up Pro Bowl numbers, sure, but he’ll also befoul the locker room with his me-first attitude and, at some point, unleash a Mike Tyson-like attack on his QB — replete with low blows and ear chomping.

That his behavior grew even more extreme with the Eagles, who do nothing but (a) win and (b) throw him the darn ball, suggests he’s a player who will never, ever be happy. It’s always dangerous, with a certified loon like T.O., to theorize about what might be going on in his head, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was this:

He had zero leverage in Philadelphia, couldn’t force the Eagles to give him the new contract he lusted for, and the realization of this just made him madder and madder — and more and more self-destructive. Think about it: He couldn’t get the coach fired. Andy Reid rules in Philly. He couldn’t supplant McNabb as The Man. It’s Donovan’s team and Donovan’s town. All Owens could do was push the envelope with his outrageous behavior and continue to push it, just to see what would happen.

Well, this is what happened: The Eagles have suspended him for four games — and upped the ante by announcing that, following the suspension, he’ll be placed on the inactive list for, presumably, all eternity. Translation: He’s outta here. We just have to find a landfill to dump him in.

An admirable stand, to be sure, and one that radically changes the picture in the Redskins’ neighborhood. Anybody think the Eagles are going to make the playoffs now with a 4-4 record at the halfway point, no running game and no Owens? If so, I’ve got a franchise in New Orleans I’d like to sell you.

Anyway, with Philly reduced to playing the spoiler, it becomes a three-team scramble in the NFC East among the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys for what figure to be two postseason berths. And it probably won’t be decided until the final weekend, what with the Redskins’ last three opponents being Dallas (here), New York (here) and Philadelphia (there).

But back to Owens. What’s really unusual about this situation — entertaining, really — is that the Eagles are firing back at him. The suspension was just the first volley. Immediately afterward, they gave new contracts to running back Brian Westbrook and kicker David Akers (knowing, of course, it would irritate T.O. no end). It’s almost like they’re saying, “Not only aren’t we going to give you more money, pal, we’re going to take some of your dough — the dough we’d be paying you these next four weeks — and give it to other players.” Now that’s some serious hardball.

But then, he asked for it. He insisted on playing this silly game. In the end, all he did was make himself almost universally despised — except among the handful of people on his payroll. I can hardly wait to see what kind of legal argument his defender makes to the arbitrator. Will he try to turn it into a First Amendment issue? Or will he claim — my own personal favorite — that the Constitution grants everybody the inalienable right to act like an idiot?

Rest assured another club will roll the dice with T.O. With players that talented, there’s always another club willing to take a chance. The Bucs banished Keyshawn Johnson with six games left in the season a couple of years back; how long did it take him to find a new home?

But it’s hard to imagine Owens getting the kind of contract from his new employer that he couldn’t get from his old one. Not after this. He’ll likely have to settle for an incentive-laden deal that may well include some behavioral clauses — if not the promise of a sit-down with Dr. Phil. The pattern, after all, is well established. You can roll the dice with T.O., but you do it with the knowledge that they’re loaded.

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