Sal Paolantonio calls T.O. overrated. A few weeks ago, Paolantonio went after sacred cow Brett Favre in a stinging rebuke that pointed out Favre’s later-career stumbling. At the time, I agreed with a lot of what Sal Pal said in that article. I still liked watching Brett Favre play football, and I thought he was one of the best to play QB in the NFL, but the media totally whitewashed some very uneven seasons for Brett in the 2000’s.
Now, Sal Pal is taking on our guy, Terrell Owens. Funny, with the Favre article I was kind of in Sal’s corner, good for someone pointing out the truth, no matter how unkind. But the second he took on a Cowboy, it’s hilarious how quickly I went into defense mode. How dare he rip our reformed wide receiver? T.O. has transformed himself into the model teammate in Dallas and besides he’s been tearing it up on the field. Blast Sal Pal, I will have justice for Mr. Owens! That’s some serious righteous indignation on my part. Now, if the Sal Pal article was written a few years ago, before Owens joined the Cowboys, I would have been right there next to him chanting – "ov-er....rat-ed!" So much for my moral compass.
The meat of the article rests on T.O. damaging two teams with his off-the-field character and the fact that he hasn’t helped his teams win playoff games – and ultimately a Super Bowl. Those are important factors, but as I read the article I couldn’t help see the words of the author through the prism of a Philly guy. It oozes with resentment of what T.O. did to the Eagles. Don’t forget, Paolantonio made his bones as a Philly beat writer in the mid-90’s. He and Jaworski are the go-to guys for Philly football news on ESPN.
I’ll concede some points in the article to Sal. T.O.’s actions in San Fran were questionable, his time in Philly was disruptive. He does drop more balls than an elite WR should. He hasn’t led his team to a Super Bowl victory although he almost willed the Eagles to a win against the Patriots in a super-human effort after breaking his leg. You can find faults with T.O. very easily because he’s opened himself to that kind of criticism with the immaturity displayed over his previous two stops on other teams. It’s hard to delineate between Owens’ undeniable on-the-field talent and his undeniable off-the-field disruptive behavior. And the line of demarcation between the two is heavily slanted towards the negative for almost everybody but current Cowboy fans.
The real problem I have with Sal Pal’s article is the short shrift it gives to Owens in terms of his athletic talents and statistical achievements. If I knew nothing about Owens except his game films, then I would undoubtedly place him among the elite WR’s to ever play this game. The guy has everything desired in a #1 WR – except for those average hands. But his size, power, speed and his ability to get yards-after-the-catch are a fantastic package. Covering him one-on-one is a mistake no defense can afford. He overpowers smaller corners and he out-runs physical corners. He’s in his mid-30’s and is still dominating the competition.
I’m not totally put-out by Sal Pal’s article, he has some points that I have to concede. If Owens had not been ripping it up for the Cowboys over the past couple of years I admit I would still be hatin’ on T.O. But as a fan of the Cowboys I’ve adopted T.O.’s cause for recognition and redemption because he hasn’t set off any of those off-the-field bombs he unleashed on other teams. And because without T.O. our team wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is now. Plain fact.
So just like Sal Pal’s affection towards the Eagles distorts his view of Owens, my affection for the Cowboys distorts mine. That’s just being honest.