Terrell Owens the Least of the NFL’s Worries

by John Furgele

Say what you want about Terrell Owens, but here are some things he DOESN’T do.

 1) Drink.

2)  Hang out at clubs all night.

3)  Run people over with his car.

4)  Run people over with his car then drive away.

5)  Run people over with his car then claim he wasn’t driving.

6)  Kill people while driving drink.

7)  Assault present or former girlfriends.

8)  Shoot himself with an illegal concealed weapon.

9)  Get arrested for disorderly conduct and use his NFL fame to mouth off the authorities.

10) Get suspended by the NFL Commissioner for violating the league’s conduct policy.

I laugh aloud when I see the media rip this guy for being a bit of an ego case.  The NFL gives him more attention for harmless antics and ignores serious incidents, and they ignore these actions ALL THE TIME.  I hear Mark Schlereth look into the ESPN camera with such intensity defending the Romanowskis, Ray Lewises, and all the other part time criminals, then laugh when I see him use the same intensity to rip Terrell Owens or Jason Taylor for their selfishness for missing team weightlifting sessions.  How hyprocritical can people be?

ESPN calls Owens a cancer, a distraction and says his demands are too much for the chemistry of a football team.  But, Donte Stallworth just KILLED somebody driving drink—-KILLED SOMEBODY—-and ESPN and all the other media, because they want that access to the NFL, their meal ticket, pays very little attention to it.  But, Owens gets barbecued by the press for missing a optional workout?  A bunch of guys running around and lifting weights?  It’s that important to a team’s season?

When will this end?  When will somebody point out that NFL players get arrested at an alarming rate compared to NBA, MLB and certainly NHL players.  When will the league get ripped for this—-or anything?  And, sometimes people defend the players claiming that it is the violent nature of the game that in part leads to violent behavior off the field.  While nobody expects these guys to be Ward Cleaver, do they have to live the game 24/7/365?

Many NFL players, after they retire from the game, cannot function normally.  Some divorce their wives, run away from home and end up broke, depressed and full of rage.  HBOs Real Sports looked at this issue a couple years ago and the piece was downright scary.  But, the NFL doesn’t care, and worse, the media that covers the NFL cares even less.  All they care about is having something to talk about during the offseason and discussing Owens harmless eccentricities is much more easier than discussing what to do with the Donte Stallworths, Marshawn Lynch’s and Donta Whitners of the league.  Who wants to discuss vehicular homicide when debating Ocho Cinco’s name change is what the NFL really wants one to talk about?

In 2000 at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Ray Lewis’ friends brutally attacked—some say murdered— a person.  I’m not saying Lewis was involved directly, but by most accounts, he watched the attack take place.  After he was convicted of obstruction, he was made the poster boy for NFL and its commercials.  How can this be?  Where was the outrage by sponsors, fans, media and the like?  The man was being investigated for murder, but in the end, turned out to make millions in endorsements. 

In fact, the Sports Illustrated’s of the world did feature pieces on him, trying to convince us that his upbringing was to blame for his violence, his numerous children with numerous women and how now he is a changed man.  I hope that’s true, but if you’re going to praise him for what he is now, you have to knock him for his past, which includes that night in Atlanta.  You can’t overlook the bad and try to convince us of the good.  Not right.  Not fair.

The NFL gets a pass because it is a multi-billion dollar industry.  For decades, the NFL dissuades those from gambling on the sport, but has never tried to hide point spreads.  Furthermore, not only do they publicize the point spreads, they require teams to submit injury reports so the bookies can adjust these point spreads accordingly.  Contrast that to the NHL, which uses vague terms, such as “upper body or lower body injury,” to describe what’s wrong with a particularly player. 

Take away the point spreads and the subsequent gambling on them, would the league be as popular?  All the other sports have minor leagues, but the NFL does not.  Why is that?  My guess is that there is so much gambling done on football that a minor league would be too hard to support because the gamblers would be too unfamiliar with the minor league players that they couldn’t wage money properly.  The fact that there are several minor hockey leagues, minor baseball leagues and even minor basketball leagues suggests that those sports may be more popular than football.  If football was so popular, why can’t a spring league survive?  Why did Arena Football suspend operations for at least one year, if not more?  Hockey is a distant fourth on the sports landscape, yet there are many more hockey teams in North America than football teams.  How is this so?

So, please, let’s leave Terrell Owens alone and let’s spend time discussing the real criminals that play in the NFL; the people that drive drunk, assault people, beat up women, shoot themselves and get into altercations at 5 AM outside of night clubs. 

If Owens’ only crime is skipping optional workouts, complaining that he doesn’t get enough balls thrown to him during a game, I’ll take it.  At least I know he won’t be making a name for himself on the police blotters.  As for those who cover the National Football League, let’s try to be objective and talk about the good, the bad and the really really bad. 

If you’re going to be there for the wedding, you have to be there for the funeral.

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2 Responses to “Terrell Owens the Least of the NFL’s Worries”

  1. J Zmuda Says:

    The curse of the blogosphere – no editors. An interesting column comparing Terrell Owens to the actual lawbreakers of the NFL turns into a rambling, thousand word rant somehow tying in gambling and comparing the popularity of football to that of baseball, basketball, and of all things, hockey.

    Doesn’t the word “minor” make things clear enough for you when talking about other sports? The NFL does have a minor league. It’s called the NCAA and it’s more popular than the other “major” league sports. Based on your absurd conclusion, some two-bit hockey team in Greenville, SC is more significant than the multi-million dollar football programs at both University of South Carolina and Clemson University.

    And what does gambling have to do with whether or not Terrell Owens is a good teammate or not or whether Donte Stallworth killed someone with a car, the original premise of your discussion?

  2. johnny228 Says:

    Hardly rambling. My point is clear. The NFL gets media protection. Terrell Owens gets blasted by all the pundits, yet the severe discretions by other players in the league get overlooked. I could have cited Pacman Jones. He and his entourage paralyze a man outside a strip club in Las Vegas and he’s beack in the league, but because TP and Donovan McNabb can’t play nice, Owens gets far more attention.

    Yes, NCAA Football serves as the minor league of the NFL, but I was referring to professional minor league sports, where the players play sports as theor career. At least the NCAA tries to pass these players off as student athletes regardless of whether they go to class or not.

    And, if you don’t think part of the media protection for the NFL is because of gambling, then you’re naive. But, I don;t think your naive because your reply was thoughtful and offered good insight.

    My premise: Owens is a bit odd, but the NFL has bigger problems, problems they try very hard to sweep under the rug. They made Lewis a cult hero after his buddied killed a man in Atlanta; Donte Stallworth drives drunk and kills somebody; but Terrell Ownes is the cancer. I really don’t get it.

    But, that’s the NFL and the media that covers it.

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