He was one of the most talented and productive offensive weapons in team history - now gone.
Granted, the ‘player' was openly critical of his coach's ability to develop winning strategies and openly critical of his quarterback and his leadership skills. There is an unspoken rule in sports and the City of Las Vegas has co-opted that rule and made it a marketing campaign - ‘What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room'. This star player violated that unspoken rule and in doing so he created a divided team.
The star player I'm referring to is Tiki Barber from the New York Giants. The year after Barber retired and entered broadcasting his former team won the Super Bowl. It was a team with one less star, but it was a more unified team. The players played for each other instead of themselves. That unity made them stronger and together they reached their goal. The Giants developed an esprit de corps, a sense that the sum was greater than the parts.
The comparison with T.O. and the Cowboys is obvious. Even though he is in decline T.O. is a great player and will no doubt put up respectable numbers this year. I believe that T.O. would still be a Cowboy if he was a more mature player and he could take a more analytical look at himself. He was second in the league last year in dropped passes. If he could subjugate his ego for the benefit of the team Jerry would not have made the move.
Will the Cowboys come together without Terrell Owens and realize their true potential?
In my humble opinion, they will. Wade Phillips is slowly but surely putting his stamp on this team. Wade is methodically trying to pull in some of his former players and coaches to put his mark on this team - up and down the organization. T.O. had more tenure with the team than Wade, he has a more dominant personality than Wade and T.O. was a productive player. Bill Parcells is a league icon and it appeared to many that his strident coaching style clashed with T.O. It also appeared that T.O., albeit indirectly, had a hand in Parcell's departure. The departure of T.O. may also be Jerry Jones' realization that the inmates can't run the asylum. Clearing the decks of strong willed polemic personalities like T.O. will make it easier for a laid back personality like Wade to exert his influence.
This is also a big year for Jason Garrett. He started strong as a freshman OC but got taken to school in his sophomore year. The offense seemed predictable. It didn't appear that he was skilled at making adjustments in the second half. We all know about the injuries, but every team has to deal with injuries and use creative schemes to develop mismatches that favor your players. I believe Garrett is a very bright coach and will learn from last year. Without having to feed the Big Dog (T.O.) Garrett will be better able to mix it up and keep opposing defenses off balance.
The focus on the running game will also create passing opportunities for Roy Williams, Crayton, Austin, Hurd, Witten and Felix. Romo will also benefit from a greater focus on the run and an improved defense. When your quarterback feels the pressure to score and come from behind, he takes unnecessary chances. That's how the coaches can make the team Romo-friendly - take some of that pressure off him.
The Cowboys are making the tough decisions that have to be made to build a winning team. They have the talent, now they must find the esprit de corps.