By now you've certainly heard the news. The Philadelphia Eagles have filed a complaint with the NFL charging Jerry Jones with tampering. Jerry's alleged offense? He stated in a radio interview that he's a "risk taker" and has taken on troublemakers like WR Terrell Owens before.
We would all be laughing if the consequences were not so severe. But I'm going to laugh anyway.
Consider the source, ladies and gentlemen. The Philadelphia Eagles front office is the party filing the complaint.
Let's go in the wayback machine to the spring of 2004 and examine the manner in which the Eagles acquired T.O. Owens and his agent got into a dispute with the NFL over procedure. Owens was expected to become a free agent but missed a filing deadline that would have voided his contract. The league ruled that he was therefore still a member of the 49ers. Owens and his agent began working out a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, who offered the 49ers a fifth round pick and a player as compensation. The 49ers were unhappy with such a low offer for a top-tier WR and traded Owens to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2nd round pick.
Owens refused to report to Baltimore, insisting he wanted to play for Philadelphia. The 49ers wanted more compensation from the Eagles but the Philly brass refused to budge because they wanted to wait on an arbitrator's ruling that might have made Owens a free agent. The 49ers, Ravens and Eagles sorted out the mess before the scheduled hearing, so the arbitrator never ruled.
The 49ers blinked, fearing they might get nothing for him. They agreed to Philly's offer of a 5th-round pick and backup DT Brandon Whiting, and returned the 2nd rounder to Baltimore, who concluded they would not fight for a player who was all but signed by another team. Owens then received a seven year, $42 million contract from the Eagles.
So let's tally this up. The Eagles:
a. negotiated with Owens before the NFL ruled conclusively that Owens was a free agent. This may have been done with the 49ers blessing, but it did not have the league's stamp of approval;
b. paid the 49ers less than market value for T.O., though they gave him a contract in line with his skills;
c. refused to match Baltimore's offer, which was more in line with Owens' value, because they knew he wanted to play for them.
On the other hand, the Cowboys owner said he has taken on players like Owens in the past.
Which reads more like tampering to you?
Oh, and did I mention that 14-hour hearing last week, where the Eagles presented reams of information to the league in order to shut down Owens for the remainder of the year?
Let's see if we can put the Eagles' reasoning into a syllogism. It would look something like this:
A. Terrell Owens is a disruptive player. We have won the right to suspend and later release him;
B. The Dallas Cowboys say they have taken on players like Owens, suggesting they might sign him when we release him;
C. Therefore, the Dallas Cowboys are guilty of tampering with our player, since it is our expressed intent to release him. Uh, wait......
The Eagles now look like the NFL's possessive girlfriend -- I don't want him, but you can't have him!
But T.O.'s the only crazy one here, right?