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Welcome to the T.O. Zone

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You're traveling through a new dimension, a dimension made of neither fact nor reality. A dimension where rumor and innuendo rule the weak-mind, where the headline and the sound-bite are the all-powerful, where intellect and reason are banished. A space so vast that it must be filled by vacuous reports of impending danger, and so dark that even a hint of light from the truth is chased away like so many rats in the night. You are entering the T.O. Zone.

It's a bizarre world indeed that we find ourselves in, one where Jennifer Floyd Engel asks the same question 12 different ways on 12 different days, only to ignore the answer and write her own version of the truth. It's a world where Ed Werder says other Cowboys players feel "betrayed" by Owens without offering a single source. ESPN is so fascinated with Terrell Owens that it parades a non-stop chorus of babbling heads who fling opinion against the wall, seeing what will stick. They accomplish the amazing ventriloquist's feat of moving their lips while simultaneously sitting on their ass and talking out of it. Where were these guys when that show "America's Got Talent" was on? The Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram makes a cottage industry out of a controversy so minuscule in stature that Mini-Me would play the abstract 'Controversy' role in the film version.

We have the national and local press loosing their collective minds over the fact that Owens missed a meeting and rehab session. I wrote my own article covering this, and I admit I wasn't happy about it. My main thrust was that Owens needed to understand the implications of this and correct his ways before it became an issue that Parcells couldn't ignore, an issue that would cause a confrontation. Lo and behold, Owens came out today and said he was sorry, and apologized to his teammates. He also said he would abide by Parcells' "no practice, no play" rule, that it wouldn't create a problem. Can't we wait until he actually causes a problem in Dallas before jumping off the ledge? Parcells says it's not a problem, he says that Terrell hasn't been a problem and in the end his opinion is the only one that really counts.

This whole controversy is a self-feeding manipulation of the press. We have a hamstring injury to a wide receiver, a very common and very fickle injury that has plagued many athletes over the years. Steve Smith just had it, Hines Ward, too. Only in the T.O. Zone is the veracity of the injury questioned, the severity of the injury mocked; the ugly insinuation of "fake" oozes from the blood-suckers without a moment's hesitation. We have a missed meeting and rehabilitation session; without a doubt a transgression worthy of admonishment, and it's been admonished to the tune of $9,500. But does this incident become the impetus for banishment, as stated by none other than Joe Theismann and Jen Floyd Engel? In what world does this mistake become the final meal for the jackals? Only in the T.O. Zone.

Don't confuse Owens' long history of transgressions with today's plate of baloney being served up by ESPN, the DFW S-T and others. Calling his former quarterback gay, intimating that another former QB wasn't measuring up, and trampling on the symbol of another franchise merit the scorn they have received. You won't find this writer being an apologist for those incidents and a whole host of others. Terrell Owens is no angel, and shouldn't be treated as such. But mixing your personal feelings about the player with your professional obligation as a news provider is embarrassing. This is a controversy created for the purposes of ratings and being right. So many have staked their reputations on accurately predicting the impending disaster of Terrell and the Cowboys that the slightest whiff of discontent is enough to create a feeding-frenzy. At best it's tabloid journalism, at worst it's phony journalism.

Oh yeah, Patrick Crayton practiced today. Cheers.