Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Big T Chimes In

Terrell Owens called Michael Vick's further suspension "kicking a dead horse" and told reporters that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should "sit in jail for 23 months" to get an idea of what Vick went through as he paid his debt to society. While he was merely arguing a point of view held by many others, T.O. argued his point in a way that only T.O. could.

In his first controversial statements as a member of the Buffalo Bills, Owens gave fans in Buffalo, a city not used to strong national media presence, a taste of what they have to look forward to: attention for all the wrong reasons.

Hey, I'm pulling for Owens more than most people. I'd love nothing more than to see the guy turn things around in Buffalo, coexist with his quarterback for more than a few games and become a positive role model for young people not only in Buffalo, but around the country. I'd also like to see the guy keep a job for more than a few years. It'd be a great story to tell: argumentative, quarterback-crushing, hot-headed wide receiver that just needs to be hugged turns nice guy for all to love and admire. And I really think he has it in him.

It's not like the guy hasn't tried to overhaul his image. In fact, in a recent episode of 'The T.O. Show' or whatever he's calling it, T.O. went to Los Angeles to "work on his love life and explore some post football career options" according to the show's website. Not sure who decided L.A. was the perfect place for that, but he was partying with L.A.'s 'finest' nonetheless. I'm also not totally clear on what role the two women who travel in his four-person posse play in his life. Girlfriends, friends, advisors? The website calls them his publicists, but I don’t know if a reality television show that shows him buying a pair of $137,000 earrings like it's nothing and then proceeding to wear them out of the store like we'd wear a belt out of the Gap is the best way for T.O. to improve upon his busted image. Maybe he should keep his mouth shut, or at least censor what comes out of it. Perhaps the FCC should act as his publicist.

He even wrote a children's book: Little T Learns to Share, in hopes of improving his image and making a little money. I don't know how either of those endeavors eventually panned out (maybe that's how he paid for the earrings), but in case you're wondering, yes, that's actually the title.

What's interesting about Terrell Owens' case is that he does not face the same image dilemma as some professional athletes. He's not fighting manslaughter charges. He's not facing charges for shooting "himself in his leg with his own gun" like Cheddar Bob, oh, I mean Plaxico Burress. (Not sure if that was insensitive for a man facing a couple of years in prison for a crime committed upon his own person. Yes, I know carrying the gun in the first place was a felony.) And he isn't trying to make a comeback after serving almost two years in jail for killing dogs in ways that would make your blood curl. Terrell Owens does not face accusations of being a 'thug'. He's not labeled a menace to society, but rather a menace to his teammates and probably a menace to himself. What's different about T.O. is that he's not a bad person. He's a passionate person. He's a selfish person and some may say a stubborn person. But he is not a bad human being. I'd even call him a good person at heart.

Does T.O. make bad choices? Sure. Does he make those choices with the intention of actively hurting his teammates? I don't think so. It's probably driven by a desire for attention among other things. That said, would I want him on my team if I'm the head coach, general manager or a part of the locker room in any way? No.

Before Terrell Owens can become valued member of any football team he must make serious overhauls to his image, his attitude and the things that he says. Even if he doesn't mean for it to happen, his words are monitored so closely that any misstep can be a distraction to his entire team. Of course, there is something to be said for T.O.'s rights as a person to do and say what he wants as long as he acts within the confines of the law. He constantly violates 'NFL Law', but has not thrown his name into the ring of wide receivers in trouble with this country's legal system. Many people forget that. Then again, should we recognize and praise somebody for staying out of handcuffs? Isn't that a responsibility we are all faced with?

Now to current events. Owens is rounding up support for Michael Vick's immediate reinstatement via Twitter although his "dead horse" comment probably did very little to help his cause. On Sunday, T.O. tweeted, "Who's w/me on the Vick situation? All n favor, lemme get a tweet 2 support Mike Vick! He did the time 4 the crime! Let the guy play!!" Many football players share Owens' sentiment that Vick's time served is enough and that the time spent in prison should serve as his suspension from the game of football. Does killing innocent and relatively defenseless dogs warrant a lifetime ban from football? Not only does Goodell have to consider several legal matters and his own NFL policies, he must also weigh some touchy ethical and moral matters. Plus, he'll probably have PETA chewing his ear off.

Now that the waters following Vick's initial arrest and trial have calmed, it allows us to take a step back and maybe devise a new opinion on the matter. At first, most of us were calling for his lifetime banishment from the NFL. Now that things have settled and he served his time, some people are changing their stance. Of course, this is all relative to one's own experiences and preferences towards dogs. Dog lovers and anybody who has seen the horrors that come from dog fighting may be less inclined to believe that he deserves a second chance.

Goodell has allowed Vick to sign with a team, if they would have him, and play in two preseason games. A decision on his NFL future should be made by Week 6, which leads us to believe that Vick is facing a four to six game ban this season after already missing the past two seasons. It's a tough decision that Goodell is mulling, and fans should thank the heavens that they don't have to make it.

Written By Danny Hobrock

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