Overlooked and underthrown, The Artist Formerly Known as T.O. officially deteriorated into an unthinkable role Sunday in Philadelphia: irrelevant. Terrell Owens, afterthought.
All summer the Cowboys receiver worked out to the tune of "10, 8, 10, 8", pointing toward his return to Philly on Oct. 8. But after a demoralizing Cowboys loss in which he was a non-factor on the field and a punch line in the stands, Owens will have to live with a new set of numbers: three, 45. As in three catches. For 45 measly yards.
Shame on Bill Parcells, Todd Haley and Drew Bledsoe. Owens was outplayed by someone called Hank Baskett. He threw more sideline temper tantrums than he caught passes. Let's face it, Bledsoe was horrible. But any day now you get the feeling he's going to be labeled gay, outta shape or worse, courtesy of the most overrated, overpaid receiver in the NFL.
"You watched the game," Owens said in a blanket non-defense of his quarterback. "You saw who's pulling the trigger." And when asked about his role, he referred to helping "these guys" get a win. These guys? Shouldn't it be "us"? But with T.O., the worst teammate in the history of team sports, it never is. Is there any doubt that T.O. would've been happier yesterday catching 11 passes in a loss than two passes in a win? No. And that's precisely why he sucks.
After the game, did T.O. take his whipping like a man? Did he congratulate his former teammates and even shake hands with Donovan McNabb? Of course not. He sprinted his chicken ass off the field as the clock struck 00:00. Turns out the toughest pill for T.O. to swallow is pride.
As for football, the Cowboys have serious problems. Not new ones, necessarily, just serious ones. Taking cues from Parcells, I think it's safe to say the Cowboys are the least enthusiastic, least passionate team in the NFL. Where's the emotion? The smiles? The joy? Come to think of it, where were the teammates getting in Albert Haynesworth's face for stomping on Andre Gurode's last week?
A lot of NFL insiders predicted T.O. would struggle. This is his first time in an offensive system other than the West Coast offense. Dallas' offense is predicated on intermediate routes; the West Coast, on short, quick patterns. "Am I off to a slow start?" Owens said, repeating a question after the game. "Possibly." Possibly? Through four games Owens is a less effective receiver than Jerricho Cotchery, Marques Colston and Mike Furrey. And, for that matter, almost everyone else. Neither his 17 catches, 272 yards nor one touchdown rank among the league's top 35. And, if you want to get picky, he's got six drops including two touchdowns. Bottom line: So far, T.O. ain't worth it. Here's guaranteeing he never will be. --Richie Whitt