x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The enigma that is Terrell Owens

Whatever you may think of him these days, one thing seems quite clear - Buffalo is the last chance for Owens.

You've got to hand it to Terrell Owens. Not many guys would host a "Thanks for the Love'' going away party in Dallas and then charge people between US$20 (Dh73) and $60 to get in. Thanks for the whine and roses, TO. Owens, 35, is one of the most talented receivers of his time yet he finds himself with his fourth team in a 13-year career, having travelled from San Francisco to Philadelphia to Dallas to Buffalo, controversy following him every step.

If you've ever been to San Francisco and ever been to Buffalo then you know TO is not headed in the right direction. Yet the professional football world remains fascinated with him, a malcontent going to a frozen, snowy, place where for at least half the NFL season it is hard to throw a snowball let alone a football. There are people who loved to see him go in every place where he's ever been and people who begged for him to stay in every place he's ever been. There are people who think he's the most talented receiver in football and people who think he's the most divisive figure inside a locker room.

Whatever you may think of him these days, one thing seems quite clear - Buffalo is the last chance for Owens. In 13 years, Owens has caught 951 passes for 14,122 yards and 139 touchdowns. He has been to the Pro Bowl six times. He once caught nine passes for 122 yards against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl despite playing on a fractured fibula. He became an instant hero in Philadelphia for playing brilliantly while hurt yet within months was in a public spat with his quarterback, Donovan McNabb, and soon after was moved on by the Eagles after they sent him home and told him they'd pay him not to show up.

Very few fans tried to block the highways when he left. On every team he's played for the pattern has been the same. It starts off like a lovefest, produced big numbers, and ends up like a food fight, with TO always arguing with the guy paid to throw him passes. Who but a fool would do that? At the moment he's blaming the guy he once cried over at a post-game press conference, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, for conspiring to drive him out of Dallas. Exactly why Romo would want to do that is lost on everyone but Owens.

The fact is, TO doesn't need any help. He's been a co-conspirator in his own demise every where he's ever played, although usually it doesn't happen until a year or two after he's put up some eye-popping receiving numbers. Just as things get good, he goes bad. Here's a guy who pays to let some Dallas kids come to his annual football camp this spring even though he'd left town and could have skipped the whole thing and then charges adults to come to his "Thanks for the Love'' party on the way to Buffalo. How about thanks for leaving?

Asked last week what went wrong between him and Romo, TO said, "I don't know.'' That's the problem. He never does. "Obviously somebody is lying,'' Owens said. "All I know is I'm not here so I will be the scapegoat.'' He said pretty much the same thing when he left San Francisco after rowing with his quarterback and his head coach. Same story in Philadelphia when he got into it with his quarterback and coach. Same thing in Dallas. Can it end differently in Buffalo?

You'd like to say he will finally see the light. He'll decide to just play football, which he still does well although not quite as well as he used to. You say that and then you think about a guy who charges someone $60 to go to his "Thanks for the Love'' party and you wonder what team he's going to next. rborges@thenational.ae