A story about Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens

Credit: Getty Images

Terrell Owens is no longer part of the Allen Wranglers indoor football team. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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by TED MADDEN

wfaa.com

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 30 at 4:24 PM

Terrell Owens not our problem anymore. The Allen Wranglers released him Tuesday after he failed to show up for a scheduled appearance at a children's hospital. His return to North Texas lasted about three months.

I don't like Owens, and I never have. And I have a great story to explain one of the reasons why:

Back in December 2007, Owens and Keyshawn Johnson got in a cat fight through the media. The subject was Bill Parcells, and how much he had to do with the Cowboys record (12-1 at the time) even though he wasn't their head coach anymore. Keyshawn was on ESPN Sunday Countdown, and while speaking directly into the camera told Owens to "leave this man alone."

You may remember the story. It became the lead on SportsCenter that night after Owens spoke in the locker room, saying that Keyshawn couldn't be a third or fourth receiver for the Cowboys, and the reason Keyshawn was "in the booth" was because Owens joined the Cowboys. It became a big he-said he-said, basically over nothing.

But here's what you don't know.

Owens called one of WFAA's reporters on the morning he was scheduled to speak with the media (he usually spoke once during the week, and then again after each game). Owens told this reporter - who's no longer with us - to ask about Keyshawn Johnson. This reporter had the day off and called George Riba to follow up.

Here's an important thing to keep in mind -- none of the Cowboys beat reporters had heard what Keyshawn said on TV. Dallas was playing in Detroit that week, it was a noon game, and everyone was there instead of watching the pre-game show. So when reporters met with Owens the following Wednesday, none of them thought to ask about Keyshawn's comments. The first 20 questions reporters asked that day were about other topics.

We didn't know what Keyshawn said either (I was with George as his photographer that day). All we knew was to ask Owens about what Keyshawn said about him. So finally, George asks Owens a very general and open-ended question, something like, "We understand Keyshawn said some things about you ... care to comment?" And Owens went off. The rest of his session with the media was spent bashing Keyshawn. Among the highlights:

"I’m probably the main reason he’s in the booth right now,” Owens said, referring to Keyshawn's departure after T.O. was signed. “It’s uncharacteristic of him, but it doesn’t surprise me. For me, if he’s gonna be hater and throw me under the bus, (it’s) because he and Bill are real good friends. Nobody would even know he won the Super Bowl unless you checked the roster. My thing is, we came out the same year. He was a first-rounder, I was a third rounder. I’m still playing, he’s not. You compare our stats up until the time he retired, it’s a no-brainer. I’d challenge him to come out and try to make this team. He’d be a third or fourth receiver at this point. He can hate all he wants to. Compare the stats, they don’t lie. Here’s a guy, writes the book, ‘Give Me the Damn Ball,’ and he has 106 catches and one touchdown, and that was off a tipped pass. I’ll never do that in my career. He can hate all he wants to.”

So all day long ESPN plays Owens' soundbites, and then brings in Keyshawn to respond, and it turns into the lead story on the 11 p.m. SportsCenter. It was a total attention grab by Owens; he had an agenda. It was calculated and he executed it.

Owens has always acted like the media is against him; he likes to play the victim. But I saw firsthand how he manipulated the media to make himself the lead story on ESPN. So good riddance, T.O. Do us a favor and stay gone.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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