During a radio interview this week, WR Terrell Owens, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, spoke about the fact that no team has signed him yet and where he could end up playing. Inevitably, the Redskins and Donovan McNabb came up..."Well you know what? Definitely that's something that was on the radar," Owens told Nashville's WGFX this week, when asked if a reunion with Donovan McNabb was still a possibility. "And if that's a possibility and they want to bring me in and make that happen, then I'm open arms to it. And I think Donovan has come out and said that things that have happened in the past sometimes were overblown with the media. It's surprising how it takes some years to go by for things like that to come out, but Donovan and I are good friends now and we've talked. We just played in this Pros vs. Joes [TV event] with myself, him and Antonio Gates against some NBA champions - Hakeem Olajuwon, Rick Fox and Kenny Smith."...
"Obviously you mentioned reuniting with Donovan," Owens said, "but I think going to Washington and playing with him obviously would be a good thing, because I feel like their team is on the cusp of really getting to the playoffs and really making something happen....I'm just looking for a team that's in the hunt, obviously to get to the playoffs and obviously win it all. Because honestly, once you get to the playoffs, you never know what can happen."
I'm sure absolutely everyone in the Washington, D.C. media would love for Owens to play for the Redskins this season. As if Albert Haynesworth, a new head coach, a new general manager and a new defense do not provide enough drama, T.O. reuniting with his old nemesis Donovan McNabb should just about put us over the top into As the World Turns territory.
Obviously, the Redskins are terrible at wideout and head coach Mike Shanahan has been looking around desperately for anyone who can help. [Read our preview of the WR position for more information on that.] Terrell Owens is far from the dominating player he was in 2004 with McNabb and the Eagles, but he's probably better than anything the Redskins currently have on the roster. So why haven't the Redskins signed him already?
Probably because he's a notoriously terrible teammate who is happy enough when the team is winning and he's catching touchdown passes, but will definitely turn on other players and coaches at the first hint of trouble. Almost every team encounters difficulty during the course of an NFL season and when that difficulty arrives, T.O. is generally the first person to start casting blame in public and insisting that whatever problem the team has it can only be solved by throwing more passes in his direction. When T.O. was catching 12-15 touchdown passes per season teams were willing to put up with that -- at least for a season or two. Now that he's not a great player anymore, teams have less patience for the T.O. Show.
Are the Redskins desperate enough to sign T.O. anyway? So far, apparently not. We will see if that changes, however, during training camp and the preseason, if Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly are still nothing but big-mouthed disappointments. My view is that if a new regime is trying to instill an attitude of hard-working camaraderie in a football team, T.O. is not the guy to have around. Like Haynesworth, Owens is a me-first kind of guy. Perhaps that's understating it -- a me-only kind of guy.
Shanahan has dealt with players like T.O. before, such as Brandon Marshall, a very talented wideout whom Shanny defended from critics. [Marshall was eventually suspended by Shanny's successor Josh McDaniels and then traded to the Dolphins this offseason.] But Marshall was Shanahan's guy, someone he had brought to the team. He had a vested interest in Marshall succeeding in Denver and obviously believed in him from the start. Shanahan has never coached T.O. and has no ties to him at all, that I know of. Clearly, if Shanny wanted T.O. on the team the Redskins would have signed him by now. Therefore, Shanahan does NOT want T.O. on the team. The question, then, is if he will become so desperate with his problems at wide receiver [including a possible suspension for Santana Moss over still-unproven allegations of doping] that he signs Owens and just hopes he doesn't tear the team apart.
My view: Don't sign Owens no matter what. Make it clear the Redskins are about teamwork and camaraderie and hard work and that temporary problems will not be permitted to override those values. Bringing in Owens will undermine the goals Shanahan has said he has for the team and T.O. will eventually turn on Shanahan and his teammates anyway. Wide receiver is going to be a problem this year, I suspect. But having T.O. would create bigger problems.