March 13, 2009
Terrell Owens will indeed be wearing number 81 in Buffalo, as you can see in the photo of his locker that comes from MouthpieceSports.com. That he got his traditional number isn't at all strange or surprising or unusual. What is (or might be) slightly unusual, though, is how he came to acquire the number that was worn by James Hardy last year.
What usually happens in a situation like this is that the veteran will come to the new team, he'll tell the young guy that he wants the number, and they'll work out a deal. Cash might exchange hands, the veteran might buy the young man a car, maybe make a donation to charity, maybe pay for a new rack for his girlfriend, whatever.
But I don't know if that happened here. When it does happen, we usually hear about it. It's a cute little media note. Via The Huddle, Owens doesn't seem to know how it all happened either.
“As far as working deals out, I don’t know,” Owens said in an interview on WEDG (103.3 FM) in Buffalo. “That’s not my department. I think Russ (Brandon, the Bills’ Chief Operating Officer) has to deal with that.”
Here's what I hope, for Buffalo's sake, did not happen: That someone in the organization (like COO Russ Brandon, for example) made the decision that Owens should have the number because he should be placated at every opportunity, and that if Hardy doesn't like it, he can go stick his tongue to a flagpole outside of Ralph Wilson stadium.
I actually think this is a big deal. Just handing him the number would be setting a dangerous precedent. I understand wanting to bring in Terrell Owens, but you can't bring him in while telling him, "Yeah, Mr. Owens, we want you to have everything you'd like here, because you are the franchise, and we're here to please you."
If he wants the number, they should damn well make him pay James Hardy for it like he's anyone else. It's not that I'm concerned for James Hardy's bank account here. I don't care about the money. It's about sending (or not sending) the message to Owens that the franchise is there to bend over backwards for him. It's about not making special rules of exceptions.
And again, I'm not saying that didn't happen here, because I don't know. It all seems a little weird, though, with Owens acting like, "Why, what is this system of paying people for numbers that you speak about? I've never heard of such a thing!"
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