• May 17, 2022

Looking Back: Why Wasn’t Terrell Owens Good For Philadelphia?

good timesAre you scared?  Are you in the right position?   Embrace fear, it’s a humanistic emotion, as sometimes you can’t stop even what you can see.  In 2004 this mindset was felt by every defense across the scrimmage line from the Philadelphia Eagles.  The game plan started and ended with one, even though the game was played eleven apiece.  Acquisition Terrell Owens, what was almost not, became something the watchful eye often didn’t even believe.  Defenses tried and individual defenders failed.  Owens became the first thing you game planned for.  Foolish to think you could stop him, managing the damage became the realistic game plan.

Purple jersey flaunting an intimidating crow, not so fast, midnight green and a sprawled eagle became the outer armor for Terrell Owens.   Due to contractual infractions, Owens was denied a trade to the Baltimore Ravens, and immediately the Philadelphia Eagles swooped on the opportunity to acquire 6’3” and 225 pounds of Pro-Bowl elite talent.    The trade to the Philadelphia Eagles was rushed, San Francisco received little in compensation and the Ravens were absolutely speechless.   Advisors and even Drew Rosenhaus told Owens to postpone signing the contract with the Eagles as it was heavily back loaded with money. Owens reason for signing, he did not want to get off to a bad foot with the Philadelphia Eagles.  I truly believe he was honest, as honest as a man who had been lied to all his life, no male figures besides football coaches, no family except a grandmother who was old school with her thinking, blessed with athletic skills and built that only come once in a lifetime, hindered by a lack of social skills, education and proper guidance.  He had a father figure now with Andy Reid, and plenty of strong brothers with the likes of Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter and Tra Thomas.

Immediately before ever stepping onto the field as an Eagle, Owens surpassed the mediocre passing threats that filled the wide receiver depth charts since McNabb was drafted in 1999.  His debut as a Philadelphia Eagle; a modest three touchdowns and 67,000 fans deafening Lincoln Financial Field with chants of two initials, “T.O.”   I was there and the touchdowns were just the beginning.  Every home game you were overcome with the feeling that you were going to witness something special; and Terrell Owens did not disappoint.

What do you remember most about Terrell Owen’s coming to Philadelphia after years of complaining that the Eagles did not have a true number one receiver?  To say it was a sense of relief would be false, it was an amazing day, no matter where you and how you found out about the pro-bowl, “Sharpie” in the sock, pom-pom shaking physical specimen.  Where to order your #81 jersey from, I personally was ordering the first manufactured one I could find on EBAY, it was fake as fake could get, but I wore it confident and proud.  I was not concerned with the side-show that came with the talent.  Even tight-lipped and mono-toned Andy Reid showed some personality with his new offensive upgrade; hinting at the possibility that he would don black tights if Owens finished the season hauling in fifteen touchdown passes.  Owens wasn’t a criminal, no legal issues off the field, and he enjoyed entertaining the crowd.  I’m sure there were fans who were concerned with the shenanigans that Owens brought with him; but the majority of us began scripting his 15-20 touchdown dances we expected to witness during his first season in the midnight green.

As the season progressed, defensive coordinators from the remaining teams on our schedule began planning wishful containment strategies to stop Owens.  By no means am I saying that the Eagles offense was average pre-Owens, McNabb was in his prime, Westbrook could score anytime he got his hands on the ball, we had nice average tight-ends, but our receivers were sketchy, especially after the Eagles missed out on the likes of Reggie Wayne and Chad Johnson by drafting the “People’s Champion” Freddie Mitchell.  With the offense scoring early and often, the already aggressive nature of Jim Johnson’s defense could be even nastier, blitz at a higher percent and feel confident that even on a bad day.

As Owens entertained us with his touchdown dances, his jubilant persona with McNabb and Reid, after all winning will keep spirits high, the only thing that could slow down Owens was an injury.  On 12/21/2004 Owens goes down with a leg injury, doctors proclaim he is done for the season and the playoffs.  The thought of reaching Super Bowl greatness and finally lifting the Lombardi Trophy was still in the line of vision, although the haze of doubt quickly altered even the keenest of sight.  Owens gets metal inserted into his leg, sleeps in hyperbaric chambers and is the best player for the Eagles in the Super bowl.  The season ends with media, team doctors and fans appreciative of Owens performance.  Rehab was cut short, medical advice was ignored, he gave everything to us, he was willing to deal with the consequences that were told to him with rushing back from the injury, the man just wanted to win, period.

Reflect on the realism of everything that took place then, and what soon followed.  Owens took sometime after the reason to reflect on a very busy 2004.  Recognizing the sacrifice he made with his leg, the additional rehab and surgery he would now need to allow his leg to fully heal, and how the majority of his financial compensation was toward the back part of his contract, he requested a closed door meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Not only was Owens declined a meeting, but he was never acknowledged for chancing the rest of his professional career and endangering his quality of life.  A simple sit-down, man to man, a handshake would have been the right thing to do for any athlete who miraculously recovered from a gruesome injury.  Management and coaches were quick to stick up for McNabb who obviously had some issues towards the end of the game both with stamina and turnovers.  The Eagles recognized that acquiring Owens and the contract they structured was rushed, the Eagles literally stole a Pro-Bowl player from the both the Ravens and Niners, while paying Owens the equivalent to a good wide-receiver, Owens was a top wide-receiver.  Owens knew it, so did the Eagles, and so did the media.  This “knowing” soon became poison, Eagles management refused to talk, Owens took a different approach, and his outspoken demeanor and antics soon became the beginning of the end, and what many fans remember most about Owens in Philadelphia, the end is most recent.

The no-go meeting and the Eagles refusing to acknowledge when Owens scored his 100th touchdown in the league, were the two biggest driving points for the quotes, the work-out sessions on his front lawn, the suspensions and the end of the “what could have been” era of Owens.  Reid, Banner, Lurie acknowledged that as “professionals” and “men” they truly hoped that Owens would recognize that the Eagles would never have traded for Owens if they did not appreciate the talent he brought to a team.   Throw McNabb into that category, the category that speaks to the media in specific phrasing, almost insulting the intelligence of reporters and fans; answering questions by leaving you with even more questions.  To recap, the Eagles stayed very “vanilla” with their reasoning, McNabb went the “company” route, both extremely insightful for media.  The media knew where to get their information and how to make a name for themselves, stick a microphone in front of Terrell Owens and he would do the rest.  The media went to T.O.’s residence, and since the Eagles were ignoring Owens like he had been throughout his childhood, Owens resorted to his “learned behavior,” he acted out.  No profanity, no sticking any player or coach under the bus.  He got his work-out on, smiled for the cameras and instructed the media where to find their answers.  Post lawn interview, Owens put his headphones on, read “apologies” created for him by his agent, and played chess and cards with players who saw his side of the story.  Players became divided in the locker room because sides had to be taken.  Andy Reid was more than a coach, he was the general manger.  If players decided to support Owens, they feared it could directly jeopardize their stay in Philadelphia or how often their name was called on Sunday’s.  Owen past with his comments to Jeff Garcia while in San Francisco and how the Eagles went about their business, T.O.’s time with Philadelphia wasn’t going to last, it was obvious.  No matter what he said, the media was going to target him, he tried to ignore the media and it only worsened the situation.  He was pissed off, acted out of frustration and a feeling that the Eagles were only a business and didn’t view players as human beings.

In today’s NFL, playing football is just the beginning.  Media is going to follow you everywhere, and Terrell Owens was the lead character for the 2004 season.  Owens was the first to shed light on how the Eagles did business.  Soon to follow, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown who were once Pro-Bowl cornerbacks for the Eagles were traded because both players asked for re-structuring of their contracts.  Westbrook who was always respectful during his tenure with the Eagles acknowledged that their business approach to things gave a stale taste to players who exceeded their contracts.  Dawkins was allowed to play for another city.  McNabb was paid to keep his mouth shut by the Eagles, and these are only some of the recognizable names.  There is a reason the Eagles have had great salary cap flexibility throughout the years, they backload contracts and get rid of players due to “injury” and “age.”

Football has the shortest shelf life of the four professional sports, yet is the only one that can stop paying you if an injury occurs or if a team decides to cut you.  Rewind to 2004, Owens played at the highest caliber we have seen am Eagles receiver perform, broke his leg and returned to be the best producer come Super Bowl Sunday with a bunch of metal keeping his leg together.   Owens was outspoken, we knew that when acquiring him, and when management ignored him, the media was there to capture every word.  John Elway is a 2 time Super Bowl Champion, Hall of Famer and a top ten quarterback in some perspectives.  He also threatened the Colts not to draft him, publicly bashing them as a franchise, and in 1983 the media coverage was not nearly what we have today, but he produced more video and headlines then Owens ever did.  Players sit out, Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers, but their behaviors have been wiped clean from memories for reasons I personally don’t understand.

Owens in 2004 was a folk-lord in Philadelphia.  A full season was quickly erased from an off-season, training camp and partial second season as an Eagle.  There were many players who took part in his final exit; the majority of players weren’t even those who put their helmets on for game day.

Jeff Kolsky

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  • Terrell Owens was the first homosexual nfl player. congrats.

  • What’s the point of living in the Past??? What does this possibly have to do with the 2913 Eagles moving forward.. Sorry man, just not feeling this article at all
    Maybe there will be Stories/Articles about Brian Dawkins or D McNabb or
    D/C Jimmy Johnson , time to let it go already and move forward…

    • I agree but Journalist needs stories to post and right now theres not much to discuss that hasn’t been disscussed already so he’s trying to add a change in dimension in Eagles blogging. Its a well written article but as a fan I want to hear about Chip Kelly and the new additions.

  • I guess we can read/comment about the return of Mile Vick as an Elite QB again being put of there by the Eagles and many sucking up to the idea that it’s possible.. Good Grief…

    • Paulman I will play the role of Vinnie, what are you talking about when was he ever elite. LMAO!!!!

  • Why T.O. didn’t work out here…the answer is pretty simple and probably not deserving of a long article in 2013. Terrel Owens didn’t care much about winning a Superbowl while McNabb and company only cared about winning a Superbowl, when you put those two forces in a room results can only end in disaster.

  • TO was OK with me. I injured my leg the same day he injured his… I told him about it on his site and he sent me a nice message. Not every big time sports figure or celebrity would do that. Damn, though, if he didn’t recover a lot faster than I did! It was a shame the way things worked out.

  • the Eagles got him on the cheap with his contract debacle and would not have went to the SB if it wasn’t for the gaff.

    No way they were paying him his worth and that’s why he was let go.

    He was a model player for 2004 for but when the Eagles refused to pay him after getting him on the cheap, he went off the rails.

    • I elite e Eagles won 2 Playoff Games just to get to the Super Bowl
      Without TO, granite, the NFC was pretty weak as a Conference in the Early
      2000’s.. But they did nake the Big Dance without during that Run

  • 2004 was a year when we didn’t go into games as fans wondering if we were going to win, but rather by how much we were going win? That team could have easily gone 15-1 that year had they not rested their starters the final two games with the Steelers the only blemish.

    All that said, the truth is T.O. was 0-1 in playoff games for the Eagles. He did not contribute “on the field” to either the Vikings or Falcons playoff wins. It’s kind of funny to me that everyone says that T.O. Got the Eagles to the Super Bowl for a team that had been 60 minutes away from the SB three years in a row and never helped them win a single playoff game other than infusing the team perhaps with some extra swagg.

  • What is the point of this article? What’s next? Are you going to dust off your old McNabb articles? How about something on Randall? Let’s try to keep it current instead of trolling for emotional response to a 9 year old issue.

  • I think all of those leaders that some of you hold near and dear to your hearts were ALL Company Men not just #5…Here you have a team on the verge of putting your names in the history books as one of the greatest teams to play and win a Super Bowl and they all to a man bitched up in 2 ways…
    1. they all chose to side with management. and it came back to bite each one of those leaders in the ass…All of those leaders #20-#54-#36 eventually got disrespected by the organization and I truly believe that 2004 laid the foundation for their treatment later on down the road.
    2. Not one single leader had the balls to step up to TO and tell him …look we are gonna win a Super Bowl…get that Trophy and you can write your own paychecks in this town..This is History in the making..Lets go Make history
    no they all sat back and watched and did nothing..
    It is my belief that TO knew all those dudes were bitchmade and when no-one chose to ride on his side he said F&ck it & F*ck them and sabotaged the whole season…He would have never tried that in Baltimore with a leader like Ray Lewis in that locker room because that whole locker room would back Ray up with whatever he wanted to do and however he wanted to handle it…That team was Rays team Not Ozzie Newsome not Brian Billick Not the owners but Ray Lewis’ …The Philadelphia Eagles from the time Andy Reid came Was Reids team and they all followed him The Coach.. The GM
    I maintain to this day that it was not only TO’s fault but it was also those “Leaders” who didn’t want to rock the boat and remained silent while Greatness and a chance to write their names in the History Books faded away

    • The thing you fail to mention is the 3 leaders you speak of 20,36 and 54 all had money issues with Eagles ownership/management about the way the team under payed its players except Mcnabb.They stayed out of it and most supported Owens realizing the team was getting him on the cheap.I will never forget Joe Banner gloating in a interview about what a bargain they were getting with Owens,I remember thinking Banner can’t even contain himself he got this guy so cheap and I knew those words would come back to haunt him .So after 5 championship games we have zero Super Bowls,I cant help but think if they would have parted with a little more cash and got that extra player we would have went all the way one of those 5 years

  • As a season ticket holder for 27 years I will always see the mishandling of the whole Owen deal as a huge missed opportunity to get that elusive Lombardi Trophy we still sit and wait for.I said at the time the thing to do was to sit down with Owens and give him 2 years after the 2004 season at a good salary that a player of his caliber was deserving of and we win the big game.The bottom line is team chose holding onto the money as they always do and still no Lombardi Trophy with no one in sight as I write this.Life is about making the most out of the opportunities presented to you and the Owens deal was a missed one,I wonder if I will see that parade in my lifetime

    • There was no missed opportunity. Nor was there a mis-handling by the Eagles.

      There was a mishandling of Owens by SF
      There was a mishandling of Owens (and his trade) by the Ravens
      There was a mishandling of Owens by the Eagles
      There was a mishandling of Owens by the Cowboys
      There was a mishandling of Owens by the TV producers

      There is always a mis-handling of Owens by everyone, because he is Owens.

  • speaking of diva wide receivers:

    DeSean Jackson is owed $10.25M in 2014 base salary.
    The five-year, $47M contract Jackson signed last offseason contained $15M guaranteed. After this season, $14.25M of those guarantees will have been paid out. In other words, Jackson is essentially entering a contract year as the Eagles will hold all the leverage in 2014. If he doesn’t perform, they’ll ask him to restructure at the very least.

    • I think D-Jax is a goner after this Year..
      I project about 45 Receptions and about about 650-700 Yards with 2-3 TD’s which can be replaced by most WR’s.. The Eagles Offense will use more Double/Triple TE’s Sets, Utilize Bigger Receivers once inside the Red-Zone, Run the Ball more often and really not throw as many Deep/Fly Routes as often as they did under Coach AR & MM, leaving D-Jax with pedestrian numbers and just not as many opportunities to make plays down the field.. If he doesn’t get back to returning Punts Full-Time and is afraid of contact to run the Bubble Routes,Screens & Reverses effectively, then I don’t see much of a Future for D-Jax and his overvalued Contract.. I would have traded him to the Oakland Raiders for a 2014 Pick for if he has another “So-So” Season in 2013, his Trade Value drops to a Mid-Round Pick at best and with his Contract, maybe he’s even untradeable.. 2013 are very big Seasons for both D-Jax & J Maclin if they want to continue to be Eagles in the Future .. We’ll see what happens, but it’s very unlikely that both return as Eagles come 2014 ..

      • lol you want to trade everyone to the raiders… i wonder why… haaaaa

        • I hate the Raiders, just think that since D-Jax is from California and went to school up in the Bay Area and the Raiders need Playmakers, that they would be th type of Team that would overpay for him..Damn that Al Davis, why did he have to pass on before Giving up High Draft Picks for D-Jax..

  • Joe Banner was walking around on cloud nine until Terrell Ownes, buster douglased his ass.
    T. O. was able to divide that locker room because Joe Banner sucker punched half those guys in contract negotiations. It was like the players only had a choice to support communism or fascism. Either choice was going to end bad.

  • Owens was very good for the Eagles.

    He got the bum’s rush and ‘don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out’.

    See, corporations, the government, the PTB, etc.don’t like ‘dissent’…Just the way it is…I could say more but I would be banned from the forum.

    Hopefully, TO has kept an eye on his money…I believe he is still a good receiver, but he’s done in the NFL.

    Of course, TO is a ‘head case’…But he played his ass off, so what?

    Good article.

    • frank you cant get banned here no matter what you say. let it out

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