T.0. blameless (gulp)

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2008 - 9:53 PM

For once, Terrell Owens didn't cause a flap, and it was the media at fault, not him.

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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens

Photo: Donna Mcwilliam, Associated Press

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It's a wonder Terrell Owens speaks to anybody.

We ask him questions. He answers. We get all mad and tell him to shut up.

Well, enough's enough. I'm crossing over to the dark side. The T.O. side.

Actually, I crossed over when ESPN studio analysts Keyshawn Johnson, Cris Carter and Tom Jackson took T.O. to the woodshed for the verbal beating of his life following comments he made after the Cowboys' 26-24 loss to the Redskins.

Owens had seven catches and two carries against Washington. He had 10 more passes thrown his way. That's 19 opportunities, although certainly not every pass was a catchable opportunity.

When asked by a reporter less than 30 minutes after a frustrating loss if he felt he should have been given more opportunities, Owens, like most confident players, said yes.

"It's no secret, when I get involved, we move the chains," he said. "When I don't, we're more stagnant in our offense."

There also was a report that Owens voiced his displeasure with quarterback Tony Romo and the offense. Owens and Romo denied it.

"It's a matter of being frustrated with the loss," said Owens, adding that he wasn't upset with the offense or mad at Romo. "It's me being confident in who I am. It's not going to be the last time you hear me say I need the ball."

But this is T.O. we're talking about. And because it's T.O., people have overreacted at the mere possibility that trouble lurks in Dallas after one stinking loss in Week 4. No one overreacted worse than the panel of ESPN analysts.

Mike Ditka, who also was on the panel, said T.O. simply needs to "shut up and play." Jackson then stepped it up, saying T.O.'s relationship is doomed to end up like his failed relationships with Jeff Garcia in San Francisco and Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.

Johnson actually kept a straight face while criticizing Owens for being selfish. The same Johnson, by the way, who wrote a book, "Just Give Me the Damn Ball!" when he was an NFL rookie.

Carter did what he does best: Act superior to all other human beings except Jerry Rice. He said if he had gotten as many opportunities as Owens did, "we'd be talking about how I dominated the football game."

I know we're all supposed to kneel at the alter of St. Carter while considering his Hall of Fame snub a crime against humanity. But as great as Carter was, T.O. is better.

Now that I'm on the dark side (for how long, I'm not sure), it was good to hear T.O. respond to the attacks during his radio show this week.

Referring to Johnson, whom he called "Sheshawn" multiple times, T.O. said the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft, "is the ultimate underachiever on that panel.

"I am the reason he is in the booth. Everybody is aware when I was brought to Dallas he was the one they let go to get me here."

Owens also poked fun at Carter, saying he did agree with the former Viking that Rice is the best receiver in NFL history.

"But I am second all-time behind Jerry Rice," Owens said in an attempt to put Carter and Johnson in their places.

Even from the dark side, I don't think I'd list T.O. second all-time. But if he wants to answer a question with something provocative and cliché-free, I say, "Speak, T.O., speak!"

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