The classic fiction novel comes in three parts. You have a beginning and an end, which each comprise about a 1/4 of the novel, plus a middle section that is the other half. The main character must have a goal and an opposition charcter that is trying to thwart his quest. The main character is shown in three disasters, each worse than the previous one, until he faces the biggest crisis of his life, and must resolve to complete his mission, overcoming all odds, and reach the goal. Then you have a wrap-up that shows the main characters life once the goal has been achieved.
So I'm taking the liberty of writing the story of T.O. including a Cowboys conclusion. I'll follow the basic formula of fiction novels, and show you redemption. The word redeem has a few defintions, but for our book I choose this one: To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of. Terrell is both the main character and the opposition to his redemption in our story.
We'd open with a quick prologue introducing our main character, Terrell Owens. He's standing on the star in Texas Stadium with arms stretched out taunting the Dallas Cowboys and everyone associated with them. This sets the stage for redemption, and of course it has to take place in the very same place that typified his petulant and selfish behavior.
Using a classic novel device, I flash back to Terrell's youth, growing up in rural Alabama. Growing up without a father in the house, a mother who has to work long hours to put food on the table and leaves the child with his grandmother. We see a child raised by his over-bearing grandmother, so protective of the kids that the house was a prison at night.
After 11-years of life, young Terrell learns who his father is and that he lives in the same town. This is the literary device where we establish Owens' problems throughout his life. This is the moment when his life is changed; the shock of discovering his own father lives so close, but has chosen to ignore him his whole life, is too much for the child. Abandonment, along with a grandmother that shelters the child to his own detriment, creates a personality ill-equipped to deal with adult responsibilities. Our main character is on a quest - one he doesn't even realize he's on until it's almost too late. Terrell is on a quest for redemption; to becoming his own man comfortable with success, to throwing off his troubled past and becoming part of a team, able to deal with life's obstacles like a man instead of a child.
But first he has to have three trials along the way, and each one moves him closer to the crossroads, to the point when he must choose between losing it all and going down a beaten man, banished from the sport he loves, ridiculed by people as a loser, a guy with all the talent but none of the tools to deal with his success. Or he can choose the other path: redemption.
His first trial takes place in San Francisco. We go through a quick montage of life events leading Owens to the 49ers. As he's growing up he learns there's one thing he can do better than anyone else and that is play football. We show him at a small college, a man among boys physically, but a boy among men mentally. Hidden beneath the surface is someone who won't be able to handle success and will derail his own life in a frustrated rebellion at authority, a "me against the world" attitude designed to hide an insecure man-child fighting his own inner demons. So once the the torch is passed from Jerry Rice to Owens, Owens finally becomes the spotlight figure in San Fran and handles it with the aplomb of a Sumo wrestler doing Swan Lake. He lashes out at preceived injustices, simultaneously sabotaging himself and his team. He's now marked as a troubled but immensley talented football player and is shipped out to another location.
But in true novel fashion, he's given another shot. He lands on a team that appears to be a perfect fit. A very good football team with a desperate need for a star wide reciever. We see Owens reaching new heights, taking the team to a Super Bowl. It seems our main character has reached his moment of achievement. But savior of a team is a role too big for him to handle, the spotlight shines again and he cracks. Relying on his tested method of blaming others for his own character flaws, Owens fails his second trial. He is banished temporarily from the game he loves and everybody writes him off; a lost cause.
The story can't end there though, so he is given another chance to make it right. His third and most challenging trial is going to be with the Dallas Cowboys. The spotlight shines bright in Valley Ranch, and he's not ready for it. But for all the world it will look good at the beginning. He'll say the right things along the way, put up good numbers on the board, but all the time we'll be waiting, waiting for the melt-down. Somewhere along the way, Owens will turn back to his old-self and will go on the attack. He'll come within milimeters of destroying himself and the Cowboys.
But this being the literary fictional novel of Owens life, he will finally deal with the person who ultimately breaks down the wall and sets him on the way to redemption. In this case we have a ready-made "father figure" and "wise old man" character rolled into one. Bill Parcells becomes the male authority figure Owens needed earlier in life. In the high drama chapter of the novel, when all the cards are laid on the table and the crossroads has been reached, Owens will confess all to Parcells. In return Parcells will dish out a heavy dose of tough love, and he will tell Owens it's never too late to grow up. It's never too late to become a team player, it's never too late to put away your childish past and become a man. Someone capable of standing on their own, of taking the good and the bad without throwing a tantrum and lashing out like a child.
Since we need a happy ending to our novel - unhappy endings test poorly with the public - Owens will listen to Parcells words of wisdom. He will finally realize that this team, this moment has offered him a shot at righting the wrongs. He'll understand that he can surrender to his past, or he can shoot for a future that will change his legacy in this world. He can grow up and become a man and create his own version of redemption. It's up to him.
The final chapter wraps-up the journey. We see Owens celebrating with his teammates after the second consecutive Super Bowl win by the Cowboys. Owens is standing in the locker room, covered in champagne, being interviewed after winning the Super Bowl MVP award.
He simply says, "I'm not the MVP, this team is the MVP. Coach Parcells is the MVP." Then he goes all "zen master" on us and quotes Michael Jordan: "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.."
The child becomes a man; redemption achieved. Hey, it's my fictional book on the life of Terrell Owens; I can end it any way I like.