by “Christian Dan” Borrello,posted Mar 9 2009 5:08PM
Yes, it's Tuesday morning. It's still March, it's still cold, and you still live in western New York. And no, it's not a dream, nor a nightmare depending on your perspective.
Stop pinching yourself. Terrell Owens really is a Buffalo Bill. The same Terrell Owens who put a signature on a touchdown pass with a Sharpie lodged in his sock, torched the San Francisco tenures of Jeff Garcia and Steve Mariucci, refused a trade to Baltimore, did a sketch in the visiting locker room with a towel-dropping Nicollette Sheridan ("Desperate Housewives"), and ripped Donovan McNabb. The same Terrell Owens whose pain pills got mixed with his supplements, who rode a bike with a Lance Armstrong jersey during training camp while driving Bill Parcells into the front office and reportedly accused Tony Romo and Jason Whitten of play-calling him out of the offense.
Yet, this is the same Terrell Owens who tearfully defended Tony Romo's trip to Mexico during a playoff bye week after losing a playoff game to the New York Giants. The same Terrell Owens whose nine catches for 122 yards carried the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl XXXIX while his quarterback, McNabb, single-handedly sabotaged his offense's final drives. The same Terrell Owens who caught ten touchdowns last year--at 35 years old--while his new teammates caught 14 TD passes COMBINED. The same Terrell Owens who's bringing his Hall-of-Fame credentials which include 951 catches for over 14,000 career receiving yards, 139 TDs, his VH1 reality show, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, and every major sports network to both 3690 East Avenue in Pittsford and One Bills Drive in Orchard Park.
Forget saying Terrell Owens is the biggest signing in Buffalo Bills history since Drew Bledsoe. He's their biggest signing ever. In April of 2002, Bledsoe may have gotten the hero's welcome, but come minicamp, T.O. is bringing the parade, and his big blue Dallas star with him.
That star may as well replace that dot marking Buffalo on your GPS. Terrell Owens is bigger than both Buffalo and the Bills right now, and will attract more traffic to western New York than Niagara Falls.
Any Bills fan who thinks this is a bad move clearly needs to think a little less. There's little risk here with a bargain price of $6.5 million. Until the weekend, the Bills had ten straight off-seasons of unfulfilled promises of high draft picks and free agents. Even if Owens causes the problems that nay-saying pundits say they think he will, the Bills still have a better shot of January football WITH him than WITHOUT him.
And, they'll sell more tickets, suites, Toronto packages, gear, jerseys, and of course, hope WITH him than WITHOUT him.
Not only should Bills fans be doing back flips, the players need to get on the Owens bandwagon themselves. Marshawn Lynch should be the first after his second offseason incident with the law and his first possible suspension as a repeat offender. Not only should wideout James Hardy offer his No. 81 to Owens, but Lynch should offer his No. 23 just to thank T.O. for diverting attention from him come minicamp time. Ko Simpson may as well write him a thank you card himself. If there's any player who can play the "do you know who I am?" card, it's the guy who needs no intro, rather than a little-known defensive back now with an arrest under his belt.
Meanwhile, for a guy like Owens who supposedly brings so much baggage, he seemed quite reserved at Saturday's press conference, perhaps even humbled. The guy is coming to Buffalo with something to prove to those supposed contenders who snubbed him--the biggest free agent of this offseason--to play with a bunch of guys who haven't proved anything in their careers (save Kawika Mitchell). Owens' press conference sounded more like Doug Flutie's rather than the boorish introductions of Reggie Jackson, or Rickey Henderson. It could have looked like a shotgun wedding at City Hall, as shocking as it was symbolic. Yet it ended with smiles and laughs, forging a symbiotic alliance nonetheless.
The Buffalo Bills are clearly in a battle to save their franchise. Period. Terrell Owens is battling for one last big contract, and his chance at a Super Bowl ring. This time, the Bills, who haven't been good in nearly a decade, got lucky instead. No stroke of genius here, unless you count Owens overcoming his "North America" bobble only to turn his words calling the Bills "North America's Team." Hmm. Where were the "marketing geniuses" last year on that one?
Leave it to T.O. to not only give the Bills a cover for their 2009 media guide, but a campaign slogan to boot. Come to think of it, you can't even spell North America without T.O. (There, fellas. A freebie.)
This move doesn't necessarily make the Bills a playoff team. But it can't hurt, regardless of the proverbial circus that may ensue and its 10-city fall tour.
Like Bruce Springsteen sings, "at the end of every hard day, people find some reason to believe."
T.O. has six-and-a-half million reasons now, and potentially millions more in 2010, to believe he can prove 31 other NFL teams were wrong. Terrell Owens is the biggest reason Bills fans have had to get their popcorn ready since the Jim Kelly days.
And the Bills front office had every reason to ask, "What the heck?"