Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Career Advice for Terrell Owens

Dear Mr. Owens:

I do not know you and cannot know your mindset these days; so, I want to address you with a respectful "Mister Owens." I've watched your recent career with bemused interest. As a fan of a rival team, I delight in your turmoil. But, as a football fan, both real and fantasy, it disturbes me to watch someone with your considerable talent commit career suicide. You brought this situation upon yourself. I'm not sure that you know that. So let me presume to offer some career advice and in a (mostly) respectful manner.

When someone pays you to do something, you are the employee. You do what the boss tells you to do. And when the boss "asks," he's really "telling." No one is ever one hundred percent happy with their situation. Even when you are one hundred percent unhappy, publicly bashing your employer and maligning an important co-worker is not a smart move. In an employment situation, that gets you fired. In a marriage that gets you divorced. When you are both fired and divorced, you are ..., well you get the idea. What's more, your career opportunities are greatly hampered.

I'm old school. I grew up with the saying "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." At least not publicly. Ever notice how quarterbacks always seem to say nice things. Always. Your ex-quarterback is the best example. In the fan's view, Donovan McNabb is on higher ground, simply by keeping his mouth mostly shut -- publicly.

Venting your feelings has seriously hampered your negotiating leverage in Philadelphia or where ever you go next. Here's how the negotiation will go, even with a team that really wants you:

Rosenhaus: "I'm giving you the opportunity to sign the best wide receiver in the game. This guy will put up Hall Of Fame numbers. If you are a playoff team, Terrell Owens will get you into the Super Bowl!"

GM: "Go away. I'm not interested. How much will you give up to make me interested?"

When you cut your deal, the GM might just tell your agent "By the way, my stud quarterback has to be comfortable with Owens, or the deal is off."

After ripping Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb, just what self-respecting stud QB will want you? Tom Brady? Peyton Manning? Marc Bulger? Brett Favre even? I don't think so. A less experienced quarterback, say Michael Vick, might. But let me give you a tip. Michael Vick is not a stud quarterback; gifted athlete yes. But he is more like a running back who can throw.

Publicly venting your feelings only burns your bridges. As to that public apology, the Eagles never asked for a public apology. A private apology to the team, coach and quarterback over the weekend would have been more effective and credible. The team and its fans can't be sure what you are sorry about: your role in making a bad situation worse, or that you are going to lose a pot of money. Nobody sees you as the victim. Only OJ Simpson is less welcome on a team than you.

I'm sorry to be preachy, I just assumed you knew this stuff. So, it's hard to understand why you say what you say and do what you do. You are where you are today because of steps you took along the way. Blaming the press doesn't help; not when the issue is you.

But you are not in a bad place. As competitive as the NFC East has become, it's not a certainty the Eagles could take the division after this season, let alone get to the Super Bowl. That's true whether you stay in Philadelphia or not. So you will get a third, and last, chance to start over with a condender. Here's my advice:

  1. What you do best is play. What you do worst is talk. Stop talking and play! Let your oily mouthpiece agent do your talking for you.
  2. Lose the attitude! Antonio Gates got a new contract without the theatrics. Yes, he was suspended, but he got what he wanted without bashing his team and quarterback and his team values him. He had a better case than you. He was not paid like a top five tight end. You got big money to play for the Eagles. Even if it was less than you deserved, why trash Donovan McNabb? He doesn't control your contract. (Black man to black man, can you explain that to me?)
  3. You are now tainted. You are not going to see another $48 million contract ever. But a team might take a chance on a $8 million one year deal. (I'm disregarding salary cap implications.) Go for a short contract! You will have to swallow a lot of good behavior clauses. But then you can do as you please at the end of each season.
  4. Check yourself! You are "all that and a bag of chips," as the kids say. Get a bucket of water, stick your head in it and pull it out. The hole that's left is how much you will be missed. You make teams better, but you are not the team.
  5. Stop listening to Michael Irvin. I don't know if he influenced your "negotiation" tactics with the Eagles, but he baited you with that Brett Favre question, and you swallowed it whole. Just couldn't resist, could you! Be picky who you listen to. Be careful what you wish for. Be wary what you say. Even your friends don't always have your best interest at heart! There are a few of us who do -- as long as it's not in the NFC East.

Best wishes in your career.

For a examples of Terrell's sportsmanship, look here.

No comments: