The care and handling of T.O.

NFL writer Jerry McDonald

Posted by NFL Editor and ANG football writer Jerry McDonald
Philadelphia is the perfect place for Terrell Owens.

The organization he plays for lets Owens play the fool, his teammates seem unfazed by his behavior, and the Eagle fans don’t seem to care either way as long as he gets his receptions and touchdowns.

Been there, done that. With another petulant ex-49er.

Ricky Watters was in his second regular-season game as an Eagle when he alligator-armed a pass over the middle at Veterans Stadium and when he talked to the press afterward, uttered the immortal words, “For who? For what?” regarding the risk-reward and his lack of effort.

The Eagles lost 21-6.

You know what? Watters survived, the same way Owens will survive. By playing hard and producing on Sundays.

Lose, and they boo. Loud and long. Venting frustration is a way of life here. Cab drivers sit on their horns so often they don’t draw a second glance from the drivers they’re mad at.

When my Southwest Airlines flight touched down Friday, the captain came aboard and said, “Now get out.”

He was kidding, and it drew a big laugh. But it properly conveyed the Philadelphia experience.

The Eagles, in the midst of this volatile city, have a remarkable capacity to smooth over problems and keep focused on what is truly important. They have a philosophy they stick with, they draft well and are superb at finding undrafted free agents.

Nineteen members (35 percent) of their 53-man roster weren’t even drafted.

They also have a quarterback in Donovan McNabb who is way above the T.O. fray but wouldn’t think of looking the other way when throwing a pass simply because it would hurt his team.

The Eagles don’t obsess over every penalty flag or worry about players and assistants say when they speak to reporters.

Put T.O. in Oakland, where Norv Turner is always looking over his shoulder and where there is no clear disciplinarian for a general manager, and he’d be trouble _ the same way he was trouble in San Francisco.

With the 49ers, he created an uncomfortable, angry workplace simply with his sullen attitude, as if he were in a protective bubble no one wanted to penetrate. He rarely interacted with teammates, who resented him for it.

Contrast that with Randy Moss, who is paired with Owens as a controversial figure but is really nothing like him in terms of personality. Moss isn’t talking much to the media, but he can be found laughing and joking with his teammates virtually every day in the locker room. He appears very much a part of the team.

In Philadelphia, they simply don’t care about Owens quirks’ because he is not bigger than the team. Andy Reid has the hammer and the full support of the front office. And Reid simply does not rattle. Owens will deal with it or get out of town.

And the Eagles will go on without him.

Sorry, No Comment
A Baltimore Sun reporter working on a story on the Ryan family spoke to Buddy Ryan and Rex Ryan at length but had no luck with Rob.

The Raiders have continued this charade where they say Ryan is available, but requests to speak to him never materialize. All they’d have to do is say “our assistants don’t talk” and it would be finished.

But where’s the sport in that?

The Sun reached Ryan in his office, where he explained he could not speak to the media and the said of his father and brother, “They’re great guys,” before hanging up the phone.

So obviously, this is not of Rob Ryan’s doing.

Ryan’s defense, by the way, is probably performing closer to its potential than the offense is.

The “big nickel” look managed to keep Derrick Gibson out of harrowing one-on-one pass defense while allowing him to play as sort of a hybrid linebacker. Kirk Morrison is giving a much-needed dose of speed.

The pass rush is better than a year ago, but still not good enough. If they don’t generate more consistency, there simply is not enough good players in coverage to hold up.

Gannon’s Take
Speaking of Philly cab drivers, I caught up with Rich Gannon the other day, who is working as an color analyst for CBS and has watched the Raiders with interest.

“Obviously I think they’re a better football team but they’re not getting results right now,” Gannon said.

“When I watched the Chiefs game it seemed like they were too often waiting for the big play, too often waiting for something to happen. And when you play a team like the Chiefs like that, you never know what might happen in the end.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer