BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots, as they are currently constituted, may not have quite the offensive firepower necessary to contend for a Super Bowl. The wide receiving corps is either too young (Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce) or too injured (Danny Amendola), and the uncertain status of Rob Gronkowski at tight end has a number of people calling for the Patriots to seek outside help before it’s too late.
One such case can be found in The Boston Globe on Wednesday morning, in the Gary Washburn column titled, “Patriots should give Terrell Owens at least a look.”
The rebuttal to this argument is simple: The Patriots should not give Terrell Owens anything, specifically with regard to playing football in the NFL.
That’s all that needs to be said, but for the sake of argument, we’ll dive a little deeper.
The column argues that it’s “perplexing” that Owens’ phone has not rung, particularly because of the Patriots’ dire straits at receiver.
“Owens does deserve another chance,” the column says, “and the Patriots, whose best receiver, Danny Amendola, has played one 16-game season in his first four years and could miss several more weeks this season, at least should give Owens a look.”
No. No. No!
OK, that’s not a nuanced reply, so here goes.
Terrell Owens was once the best wide receiver in football. His work on the field merits serious Hall of Fame consideration, as he’s second all time in receiving yards behind only Jerry Rice, third all time in touchdowns and sixth all time in receptions. From 1998-2008, he was the best.
But 2008 was a long time ago, and along the way, a lot of teams had to put up with a lot of nonsense from Owens in order to get that production. His off-the-field shenanigans need not be re-hashed here, but when Owens claims he’s “a different person than [he] was 10 years ago,” that’s out of necessity, not any desire to change.
Owens also told Washburn that “there’s never really been a decline in my production,” but there has been a major drop-off in recent years in production from Owens. As in, there’s been absolutely none of it. Zero receiving yards is actually a sharp decline in production from 1,000 receiving yards, despite Owens’ best effort to make it seem to not be the case.
And yes, Owens was surprisingly a very effective and reliable receiver for the Bengals in 2010, but what the column conveniently leaves out is how that season ended for Owens. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve that season in December, and he underwent knee surgery. He was 37 years old at the time.
That offseason, he tore his ACL and underwent more surgery. No team signed him in 2011. So he played in the Indoor Football League.
Last year, the Seahawks gave him a chance to come to training camp and win a spot, but it was clear in watching the over-the-top television coverage of practice that Owens simply could not make it in the NFL. He could not make the cuts a receiver must make to run routes in the NFL, plain and simple, and the Seahawks let him go in the their first round of training camp cuts. No other team was interested.
Now, more than a year later, still no teams are interested, and it’s not perplexing. It’s not “a testament to the Roger Goodell NFL, one that has no tolerance for selfishness and perceived buffoonery when a player’s prime years are over,” as the column suggests.
It’s simple. He’s done. And he’s been done for years. The only person who seemingly doesn’t quite understand that is Owens himself. And perhaps because he saw his reality show co-host, Chad Ochocinco, get his chance with the Patriots (which failed miserably, by the way), Owens feels he deserves one as well.
“Tom Brady has a lot of young guys,” Owens told Washburn, “and I’m sure he could use some veteran help and I would love to play for a guy like Bill Belichick and play with a quarterback like Tom.”
So would a lot of people. That doesn’t mean they’re good enough to deserve the chance to.
Terrell Owens was barely worth putting up with when he was an elite receiver, when he was scoring touchdowns and racking up receiving yards but was tearing teams apart in the process. Now that he can’t run routes, can’t break a tackle, can’t gain any separation, can’t beat Vince Wilfork in a footrace and probably is every bit the nuisance he was during his prime, it’s perfectly clear why the Patriots — along with 31 other teams — don’t have Owens on their radars.
The Patriots may be a bit desperate, but not nearly as much as T.O.