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Owens and Bledsoe need to make nice

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I've been reading - as I'm sure you have - a number of articles projecting the impact, positive or negative, that Terrell Owens will have on the Cowboys. It's the offseason, so speculation and guesstimation is the only game in town. Of course, when Terrell Owens is involved in the equation, the chance of a combustible mixture ranks right beside nitroglycerine in a blender.

The guy who will be in the middle of it all is Drew Bledsoe. Of all the positions on the roster, Owens has made QB his unwitting accomplice in the art of dividing a locker room. If you want to nail down the dynamics of Terrell in Texas, you should start with Bledsoe.

Reporter Michael Smith did just that for ESPN and put together a very interesting article that argues Drew Bledsoe is very excited at the prospect of slinging the rock to Owens, and he's not just putting on a happy face. As Cowboys fans, our daily routine for the next year will be rationalizing the reasons the situation won't go nuclear. Drew Bledsoe working well with Owens is as good as any straw to grasp, and more than anything else, their relationship will determine our success. If we have a love connection, anything is possible for the franchise; if we don't, then Valley Ranch will leap ahead of Chernobyl as the most toxic work environment on earth.

Smith starts by relaying a call Bledsoe got while golfing in a charity event.

Bledsoe had an incoming call from an unfamiliar number, originating from area code 678. He turned to his longtime agent, Athletes First's David Dunn, and asked where 678 was. Dunn told him Atlanta. "Who's calling me from Atlanta?" Bledsoe asked.

Bledsoe touched green and retreated to a quiet area behind the tee. When he returned to his cart, before ending the conversation, the last thing he told the caller was, "Thanks for calling, man. ... This the best number to reach you?... Let's light this thing on fire."

"That was T.O.," Bledsoe told the waiting group.

It's just a little thing, but at least it was something; Terrell giving Drew a call. Bledsoe's enthusiastic response: "Let's light this thing on fire" sounds like a call to arms. It just depends on whether Owens takes it as a battle cry for burning opposing defenses, or lighting his own franchise on fire. With Terrell's history, the Cowboys would be wise to keep their fire insurance updated.

Bledsoe has played with a few diva receivers in his day, including Terry Glenn and Eric Moulds. Last year he had the famous dust-up with Keyshawn on the sidelines, but that was like a gentle breeze compared to the Owens/McNabb typhoon. The question is: How will Bledsoe deal with Terrell's tempestuous personality.

"I'm just going to establish right from the start: Hey, I don't need all the noise and all that stuff. You come to me and give me honest information and I'm going to get you the ball," Bledsoe said. "Give me something to use for the next play. I'll make sure he knows that I'm always focused on the next play and not the last play. The noise isn't going to help us on the next play.

"I'm going to give him his respect and listen to what he has to say. But he's going to know going in that all the noise is not going to get him the ball more. What's going to get him the ball more is honest information. That's all I need."

Drew, I like the approach, but you're going to get more noise than a '67 Camaro with a broken muffler. At least Bledsoe is going into it with an open mind.

Bledsoe is willing to give T.O. the benefit of the doubt because he isn't taking the word of ESPN or Sports Illustrated or sports talk radio. He isn't judging Owens on what he saw or heard from him or read about him.

Instead, he's taking the word of buddies who have played with Owens, who've seen his legendary work ethic, the way he approaches practice, how he and the guys play cards in the locker room. Of course, the numbers speak for themselves.

I say good luck Drew, your ability to deal with the NFL's #1 narcissist is going to decide this team's future. Not that we're putting any pressure on you.