Drama-filled Owens is good for the NFL

Terrell Owens(notes) will be fully recovered from April ACL surgery, or at least that’s what his agent, Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN on Tuesday.

Of course, Rosenhaus once stood in T.O.’s driveway during one of Owens’ dustups with the Philadelphia Eagles and shouted “next question!” to nearly every question.

And please don’t confuse this with the time Owens addressed the media in his driveway while doing sit-ups without a shirt. Or the time Owens had to hold a news conference because a police report suggested he may have attempted suicide even though he hadn’t.

A tearful Terrell Owens defends Tony Romo following a playoff loss in January 2009.
(AP Photo)

So, really, who knows what the future holds for the 36-year-old wide receiver. He may be back with the Cincinnati Bengals next season. He may be out longer. He may even be done for good.

“He is a legendary healer,” Rosenhaus said. “He comes back from injury faster than anybody I’ve ever seen.”

Rosenhaus also tried to refute a report that Owens injured his knee while filming a VH1 reality show. That bit of news isn’t worth dismissing yet, though, because the agent wouldn’t say how he got hurt. Besides, wouldn’t that be the most fitting way for Owens to sustain an injury?

The man is equal parts genetic freak, world-class athlete and dedicated workout maven. So naturally it would be the non-athletic world, that he tackled with the same ferocity as NFL secondaries, that would do him in.

Here’s hoping Owens will return to football, 100 percent, because the NFL is a more colorful, comical and, indeed, more exciting place with him in it.

Owens may be occasionally infuriating, but he’s always interesting.


He’s enjoyed a career ride that transformed him from obscure, small-college NFL draft pick (third round out of Tennessee-Chattanooga to the San Francisco 49ers) to astounding fame, crazy soap operas and incredible performances.

You may remember the driveway sit-ups, or the “black-on-black crime” involving Donovan McNabb(notes) or the teary “that’s my quarterback” defense of Tony Romo(notes), or the suspensions, the supposed fights, the real fights, the contract disputes, the non-overdose, the celebrating on the Dallas Cowboys star (pre-playing for the Cowboys, of course), the “Desperate Housewives” skit scandal (way overblown, by the way), the battles with Bill Parcells, Andy Reid, Steve Mariucci, Hugh Douglas. Obviously, we could go on.

Put it this way, Parcells was so sick of dealing with Owens he wouldn’t say his name, referring to T.O. merely as “the player.” And this is a coach who handled Lawrence Taylor.

Here’s what’s worth noting also though: the 153 career touchdown receptions (second all time), the 15,934 career reception yards (second all time), the five All-Pro selections and the gutty, return-from-injury, 9-catch, 122-yard performance in Super Bowl XXXIX.

[Jason Cole: NFL will be just fine without Terrell Owens]

The guy can really play. For much of his career it’s tough to claim he wasn’t at least one of the top three receivers in the league, something that will make him a Hall of Fame debate point in the future. Even last season he caught a very respectable nine TD passes in 14 games for the Bengals.

Perhaps most telling was the propensity of quarterbacks to have career years when they had the luxury of throwing it to No. 81.

In San Francisco, Jeff Garcia(notes) went to three Pro Bowls from 2000-02 then was on five different teams in five seasons. In Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb threw 31 touchdowns and finally got to the Super Bowl and then when Owens left never passed for more than 23 scores again. In Dallas Tony Romo enjoyed three stellar seasons that turned him into a star with Owens by his side. No one is certain he’ll ever be as good.

Owens may be known as a quarterback killer, but usually not before he became a quarterback maker.

“I think that’s what’s always missing; no one ever talks about that,” Owens said a couple years back. “I think sometimes those things tend to get overshadowed because a lot of criticism and a lot of things they want to talk about other than what I bring to the table.”

All true except it was Owens who made sure everyone was talking about those other things.


T.O. is always about promoting himself, a goal that juxtaposes with a childhood where he came up shy and poor in little Alexander City, Ala. He was odd socially, which is easy to understand when his life experience includes not knowing his father until, one day when he was 11, he discovered the man lived across the street from him, ignoring him the entire time.

Terrell Owens had 983 yards and 9 TD catches last season.
(US Presswire)

“My upbringing made for underdeveloped social skills,” Owens wrote in his 2004 autobiography “Catch This!”

In the NFL Owens has refused to be ignored, on or off the field. He caught touchdown after touchdown and then danced like he’d never been there before. He made things look easy on the field and made life off of it hard for anyone with whom he was feuding.

He was a one-man circus and while it’s made him a household name and assured a post-football career either in reality TV, as a budding tell-it-like-it-is analyst or both, it’s clouded the appreciation for him as a player.

“One thing they can never take away; the things I do on the football field,” he said.

Maybe Owens returns full force to the field, the way Rosenhaus is predicting. Maybe he’s never the same or never even back in uniform.

With T.O. you never know, only that when it goes down it will be impossible to ignore.

The man does everything over the top, in his own unique manner. It’s why suffering a possibly career-ending injury while filming a reality show is so Terrell Owens, it just can’t be dismissed.

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Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011