That day is never coming.
After getting kicked to the curb by his Indoor Football League team, it's becoming increasingly clear that "not a model citizen" doesn't even begin to describe Owens. Instead, he's a guy who has failed football fans time and time again, to the point where any publicity he could potentially garner for the IFL isn't even enough to keep him around.
For Owens, his release from the Allen Wranglers — who also stripped the polarizing receiver of his ownership stake — is a new low in a career that appeared to have already hit rock bottom. Wranglers owner Jon Frankel cited a "lack of effort both on and off the field" for Owens' release.
That reasoning doesn't come as much of a shock to most T.O. haters. But for someone who has given him the benefit of the doubt on numerous occasions, due in large part to his incredible production and the on-field effort he still showed most Sundays, it's alarming.
As much as Owens pissed off the media, the fans and his teammates, there were times you would see his on-field effort and think, "Now if only this guy could put it all together." He was also producing at a Hall of Fame rate, that with the right frame of mind, there was no telling what he was capable of.
With most flashy, controversial wideouts — and there have been a few — there's the notion that receiving 100 percent effort out of them is too much to ask. It's unfortunate, but it's a realist approach. With Owens, however, it's hard to look past the passion he often exhibited, which was highlighted by his effort in a Super Bowl XXXIX loss to the Patriots as a member of the Eagles.
Owens suffered a severely sprained ankle and a fractured fibula when Cowboys safety Roy Williams took him down with a horse-collar tackle less than two months before Super Bowl. Yet, at the time of the game, despite team doctors stating that his injury would take several more weeks to heal, Owens suited up. And on one leg, he hauled in nine grabs for 122 yards.
It was truly a remarkable performance, and one that was undoubtedly — and understandably — overshadowed by the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. But Owens wasn't content with just turning in the performance. Instead, he needed some sort of attention, so he proceeded to blast the media for its lack of praise and eventually subtly criticized Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
That was the common theme throughout T.O.'s NFL career; starved for attention. He always found his way into the spotlight for reasons his teams would prefer not to see. Whether it was spitting in DeAngelo Hall's face, lifting weights in his front yard or showing that his touchdown celebrations were often his primary focus, the attention on the extracurriculars always overshadowed the attention on his greatness.
The Indoor Football League, as you'd expect, didn't seem to care much, which is why they brought the NFL cast-off aboard. It looked like a smart move, because why else would NFL fans care much about the IFL? But the Wranglers soon discovered that T.O.'s issues ran deeper than they had ever envisioned.
Now, football fans who have refrained from writing off the receiver should also realize that.
Owens' off-the-field antics have always been suspect, but skipping out on a charity event shows carelessness that extends beyond a lack of respect for his teammates, the media and most football fans.
"The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for Mr. Owens was his no-show to a scheduled appearance at a local children's hospital with other Wrangler players and coaches," Wranglers president Tommy Benizio said in a statement regarding Owens' release. "It's not the desire of the Allen Wranglers' organization to disappoint fans by having our most notable player miss a scheduled appearance."
Disappointing fans is nothing new to Owens, but disappointing kids makes the receiver's previous transgressions look somewhat noble. And that should disappoint himself more than anyone else. The problem is that it won't.
T.O. has never gotten it, so we should stop believing he ever will.
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