Owens, known most notably for not only his outstanding ability to make plays, but his wild on the field and off the field behavior, admitted to financial problems in an appearance on the Dr. Phil show in May, where he faced off against the mothers of three of his four children — who accused him of not having a role in the childrens’ lives and for failing to make the required child support payments.
One aspect of the Seahawks’ decision makes sense — Seattle head coach Pete Carroll needs a big, veteran receiver and Owens certainly fits the bill in that regard. Coming into the 2012 season, Owens holds a prominent spot in the NFL career receiving records — being second all-time in receiving yards and tied for second with Randy Moss in the most career receptions. Despite his age (Owens will be 39 in December), he still has the ability and credentials to be one of the league’s top-threat receivers.
The baggage that accompanies Owens however, makes the Seahawks’ decision extremely questionable. Once a quiet and modest player when he began his career with the San Francisco 49ers, Owens developed an immensely loud persona that quickly drew attention to himself — with most of it being negative. He frequently fought with his teammates when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles, outraged fans and team officials with his bizarre behavior (such as wearing former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin’s jersey) and voiced his displeasure with the organization for not recognizing his 100th career touchdown reception. These problems followed him to Dallas after he was signed to a three-year contract — where outspoken Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated the team had enough and released Owens a year early.
The two years following his release from the Cowboys — first with Buffalo, then with Cincinnati — were routine as far as on the field accomplishments went, with 1,000 receiving yards in both years. An offseason ACL injury in early 2011 led to the Bengals choosing not to re-sign him and other teams around the league didn’t seem interested in picking the aging receiver up either, given the opinion that he had become a “problem child”.
Nevertheless, Owens has obtained another chance — most likely his last — to shine, financially right his ship and end his career in a much better light that it has portrayed in recent years. What he does with this chance remains to be seen — but given his long history of contributing to the dissent of the teams he has served on, I’d say this will be a long shot.
“T.O.” was once one of my favorite players, despite all of the troubles he brought to his team. Like his long-time friend Chad Johnson, he’s a natural entertainer and his touchdown celebrations were at one time one of the reasons I tuned in on Sundays — I had to see what he was going to do next. However much the NFL doesn’t like to acknowledge it, NFL players are at a base, paid entertainers, and guys like Johnson and Owens bring some extra fun to the game. The dividing line between Johnson and Owens is the fact that Johnson never made waves with his teammates, where Owens tirades and tantrums brought his teams down.
Should Owens cut all the craziness that surrounds him and just go back to being a great receiver and having fun entertaining the fans, 2012 could be a magical season for him — and Seattle might decide to keep him around for at least another year or two. However, if the self-destructive T.O. maintains his old ways sinks the Seahawks ship before it even sails out of port, expect more drama than touchdowns in what will probably be his last year.