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TO: Fall from grace
June 24, 2012 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Terrell Owens's Darkest Days:
'Since signing with the Allen Wranglers, Terrell Owens hasn't exactly been excited to talk to reporters. Back in his Philadelphia days, in the prime of his career, he used to hold press conferences all the time, sometimes in his own driveway. He couldn't wait to be on camera. He would tell reporters what questions to ask. He never shied away from a microphone: not in a locker room, not in a studio, and certainly not on his own reality show. But now that he's been relegated to the lowest rung of professional football, with no team in the NFL even interested in watching him work out, Owens hasn't been so loquacious.

Terrell Owens hits rock bottom with recent cut: 'From six-time Pro Bowler to IFL exile. They don't dive off the cliff like that in Acapulco. T.O. now stands for Total Oblivion.' Owens has since fired his agent after getting a $50 severance.

After being dropped from the Wranglers, Terrell Owens joined forces with fellow exile Chad Ochocinco.

Ochcinco was then picked up by the Miami Dolphins
posted by the man of twists and turns (30 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
He made an appearance on Dr. Phil with three of the four mothers of his kids to explain why he hasn't been paying child support (he's broke), and why he hasn't even seen some of his children (it's complicated).

....

"People ask if I'm embarrassed," he says. "I'm not embarrassed by it. This is all part of God's plan. He's broken me down and put me in a situation that has enabled me to better myself. I think I'm a better route runner because of some of the things I've done playing in a confined space. It's made me work harder. I've met new friends, new coaches. You never know what the path is. For me, it's how do I get through this? How do I rebound? How do I bounce back?"

You know, you'd think God would have a plan to make him a better daddy, but obviously His priority is on getting TO to run better routes.
posted by three blind mice at 9:39 AM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


"People ask if I'm embarrassed," he says. "I'm not embarrassed by it. This is all part of God's plan. He's broken me down and put me in a situation that has enabled me to better myself. I think I'm a better route runner because of some of the things I've done playing in a confined space.

If I believed in God, I might think you aren't learning the lesson he had in mind.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a really great article because we always hear about this kind of thing--the really talented player that manages to alienate everybody and goes bouncing down the rungs of the ladder in his particular sport--but we seldom see the results of that.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2012


I guess he and Curt Shilling took the same "How To Not Get Embarrassed" night class.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


His exit from Philadelphia was absolutely one of the stupidest things in the history of sports. He was beloved here and he and McNabb had incredible chemistry.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Boy, is there anything a Grantland writer loves more than a flashy African-American athlete failing?

Because how could a T.O. story end any other way? There can be no redemption, no change in this narrative. It's gone on too long. We know it too well.

What the hell kind of asshole thing is that to say about somebody? No, he's probably not going to land back in the NFL, because his prime playing years are over. But to sit there and say 100% he will never change as a person or better himself? That's just an asshole thing to say about somebody.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:25 AM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I bet God is facepalming. (God probably does that a lot.)
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unlikable football player gets old. This article won't be written about Ochocinco in a few years strictly because he's a likable guy - an acceptable type of distraction (and of course Chad isn't on TO's level in terms of professional accomplishments).
posted by antonymous at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't care much for football, but 30-odd years ago my first cat's name was T.O., and while we didn't exactly live in Allen, we lived in a different North Dallas suburb not far from there (not far by Texas standards, at least).

What does it all mean? I have no idea, really, but I'm willing to sell rights to the story to the highest bidder.
posted by item at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can understand how Ocho got picked up by Miami and T.O. did not; last year, while being maligned for being too dumb to play for New England, how he was washed up and he was marginalized in their offence, but you didn't hear word one from him about his personal role. He is a great team player; a little kooky, sure, but willing to put himself aside for the betterment of the team. I think he'll be a great role player in Miami.

T.O. is way past narcissistic and has never played the team game. He's also self-destructive, which makes him a huge liability even if he's producing. I'd wager a little money that T.O. is on the edge of a spiral that will end in him either dead or in jail in the next five years. The guy is not built to be happy when he's succeeding, never mind when he's failing. I feel like since he left Dallas he's been a star imploding slowly.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:16 AM on June 24, 2012


As a 49ers fan who experienced the Terrell Owens slash and burn show on his way out of town, I definitely fit into the category of fan who theoretically would feel some joy at Owens' humbling over the past several years. But that article was just way too depressing to have any schadenfreude over.

Boy, is there anything a Grantland writer loves more than a flashy African-American athlete failing?

I didn't really get that from this article. I thought this portion:
...it's worth mentioning: There are worse things than being an asshole. He didn't kill anyone — and there are players in the league who have. There are players who've beaten their wives and girlfriends, who've raped, who've robbed. You can't even name all the players who've spent time behind bars. There are players who intentionally target the heads of recently concussed opponents — even knowing the crippling long-term effects of their hits. Owens has never been accused of anything like that
was essentially arguing that Owens is not deserving of the intense hatred often directed towards him, especially considering the far more serious offenses of some of his colleagues.
posted by The Gooch at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


It amazes me that people do not recognize chronic brain damage even when it rises up and spits in their faces.
posted by jamjam at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't really follow sports so I read the Terrell Owens entry in Wikipedia (I'd heard the name but didn't know what the deal was). So... he's kind of an arrogant jerk? Don't we have a ton of those in sports? What's special about this guy, why did he get run out of town? I was expecting to read that he ate babies and kicked puppies or something.
posted by desjardins at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2012


As it was said upthread, there is a reason why Ochocinco's likability and dedication to teamwork is why he is still in the league. The reason Randy Moss is getting another chance is because there's a slight chance that he might exhibit the otherworldly speed that will make him a first ballot Hall of Famer.

T.O. is the complete opposite, personality-wise, of Ocho and doesn't have nearly the potential of Moss. It is his fault for not realizing this earlier on and insisting on burning his bridges whenever he left a team.
posted by reenum at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2012


It's pretty hard to have schadenfreude when several kids are involved.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:43 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The cable TV drama Necessary Roughness has an interesting take on the Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco sagas, in the form of a slightly younger fictional character who is an amalgam of both men. The character is named "TK" and is still at the height of his pro football fame but might be falling into a pain-killer addiction (he got shot in a nightclub incident). The premise of the show is that the team hires a psychologist to treat TK's narcissism issues as well as serve as the team's in-house shrink.

...it's worth mentioning: There are worse things than being an asshole. He didn't kill anyone — and there are players in the league who have. There are players who've beaten their wives and girlfriends, who've raped, who've robbed. You can't even name all the players who've spent time behind bars. There are players who intentionally target the heads of recently concussed opponents — even knowing the crippling long-term effects of their hits. Owens has never been accused of anything like that

Nor can he be tagged with having a double-digit count of children by at least half as many different women. On the Nick & Artie sports podcast last week they did a hilarious bit on the top 10 pro athletes with the most children by the most number of women. If Wikipedia is accurate, T.O. and Chad Ochocinco have been comparatively chaste, although both have had more than the average share of baby mama drama.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


desjardins, the website Bleacher Report has a take on the 'locker room cancer' meme that has spread around TO. It's a little... sarcastic.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2012


So... he's kind of an arrogant jerk? Don't we have a ton of those in sports? What's special about this guy, why did he get run out of town?

Among other things, he has a reputation as an incredibly selfish player who is prone to throwing his quarterback under the bus when things aren't going well.
posted by The Gooch at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2012


I heard a story about Terrell Owens on sports talk radio from a caller one time which was nearly the saddest story I ever heard about an NFL player. The guy claimed he was from Owens' hometown in Mississippi and that Terrell Owens met his father for the first time when he was 13 years old, after he was fooling around with one of the 13 year old girls in the neighborhood, and this big dude pulled him aside and told him to stay away from her, the girl was his daughter, Terrell was his son, and the girl was Terrell's sister.

Every once in awhile I have seen that story snuck into his wikipedia page but it always gets taken down. Probably it's bullshit. But that is the type of thing the Owens saga inspires.
posted by bukvich at 2:09 PM on June 24, 2012


A few years ago, I was bartending at a restaurant when T.O. and a family member (sister? cousin? I dunno) came in for lunch. It was Saturday afternoon, the lunch rush had come and gone, and in the whole 250+ seat restaurant there were maybe a dozen diners. T.O. and his companion sat in a booth at the bar. I greeted them and got their drinks (iced tea for T.O., raspberry lemonade for his dining companion). T.O. said, "Look, we have some important stuff to discuss, so we're going to be here a while. We'd like to not be interrupted, please." No problem, I replied, and spread the word to the staff to leave him alone and keep other customers out of the bar area. They ate, split a dessert, and he paid cash, including a generous but not flashy tip. Then he excused himself from the table and made a point of thanking the kitchen staff, the bar staff, and the managers. He spent almost half an hour signing autographs for everyone who wanted one. He was friendly, down-to-earth, approachable, and perfectly polite: nothing like the T.O. you see on TV.

I was never a fan of T.O. as a player. And I'm generalizing from a single sample. But the T.O. I met could have given lessons on how a star athlete should conduct him or herself in public.

So there's that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:14 PM on June 24, 2012 [28 favorites]


I bet God is facepalming. (God probably does that a lot.)

I assume there is a lot of drinking involved.
posted by elizardbits at 2:29 PM on June 24, 2012


bukvich, that story is in the grantland article.
posted by telstar at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2012


telstar I didn't get that far. It is a really bizarre story and my guess it is more likely not true than true. Who would be the source? Terrell? I doubt a Grantland citation can pass it into Terrell's wikipedia article. That it could be true is plenty sad enough.
posted by bukvich at 5:12 PM on June 24, 2012


Terrell Owens met his father for the first time when he was 13 years old, after he was fooling around with one of the 13 year old girls in the neighborhood, and this big dude pulled him aside and told him to stay away from her, the girl was his daughter, Terrell was his son, and the girl was Terrell's sister.

When I went to see R.L. Burnside play back in the 90's, he told a joke between songs that was essentially the same story (it wasn't about TO, just some random guy). Burnside's also from Mississippi. Maybe it's just some kind of local in-joke?
posted by mcmile at 5:17 PM on June 24, 2012


I think Terrell Owens could be a good guy. I really want to like him or his persona but I never get the sense he's learned from past mistakes. In a bad predicament? Twist it to your own liking as if YOU know what "Gods Plan" is. His story reminds me of the recovering alcoholic who is nearly oblivious to the effects of his behavior on others.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:14 PM on June 24, 2012


Apparently the story is in his autobiography. So if anyone stole it from folklore, it was TO.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:23 PM on June 24, 2012


I like the title of this MeFi post.

TO: Fall From Grace

I have some other alternate titles:

TO: Burn Your Bridges
TO: Throw Your QB Under The Bus
TO: Sit In Solemn Silence In A Dull, Dark Dock
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:35 AM on June 25, 2012


Just an aside...
There are players who intentionally target the heads of recently concussed opponents — even knowing the crippling long-term effects of their hits

I don't follow sports so this is news to me. Who are some players that have actually done that?
posted by lovelygirl at 8:53 AM on June 25, 2012


Who are some players that have actually done that?

It would probably be easier to list the players that haven't actually done that. Defensive players are coached to target known physical frailties in their opponents. Teams gather intelligence on their opponents and attempt to exploit any possible tactical advantage. This is why professional athletes often lie about the nature of injuries they receive.

The code used to justify it is that the other guy assumes the responsibility for the risk to his own health when he steps on the field.

Of course, when an outsider discovers this sort of thing, everyone in the sport is shocked and outraged at the behavior of the bad apples.
posted by snottydick at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't follow sports so this is news to me. Who are some players that have actually done that?

Try the New Orleans Saints.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2012


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