There are two sides to every story. Unfortunately, this T.O. saga has its upside.
The NFL is in pre-season mode. Starters are only on the field for the first quarter – if even that long. The rest is just training camp news and injury updates. The most compelling reason to watch a pre-season game is to see if one of the big name players gets hurt. Not exactly the most exciting time to be watching football. Plus, there are plenty of other good sporting events going on right now.
The Major Leagues are starting to close in on the pennant and wild-card races, Rafael Palmeiro has just come back from his steroid suspension, Phil Mickelson just won the PGA Championship and Tony Stewart is tearing up NASCAR. Yet, what is everyone talking (and writing) about? Terrell Owens.
Aside from the approximately four months when the NFL players aren’t suiting up at all, mini-camp and training camp has to be the least interesting time of the year. We can only hear so much about two-a-days and wind sprints and whose hammy is feeling a little sore. T.O. has changed that. He’s engineered a very public (see my previous post) and acrimonious hold out that has everyone watching. He has single-handedly taken the spotlight from every other sport and turned it upon him and therefore the NFL. People are looking for every little bit of T.O. info and then they end up sticking around for some of the other training camp reports. Don’t think this won’t carry over into the regular season. I’ll be willing to bet that the Eagles games (especially the opening Monday night game) will be some of the highest rated games of the season. Why? Everyone wants to see what he’ll do next. Will he scream at Andy Reid on the sidelines? Will he pull a poster of himself out of his pants and dance with it for his latest touchdown celebration? Will he finally talk McNabb in to punching him in the face?
No matter what you might hear from NFL management about how T.O. is a nuisance who is giving the game a bad name, there are managers in NFL headquarters saying, “Hey, our ratings our up. Let Pepsi know it’s going to be $20 million a minute for a Super Bowl ad this year. Twice that if Owens is playing.”
Paul Tagliabue (and the rest of the NFL management) has got it made right now. The fans are on his side. He can come out and say that Terrell Owens is a low-class doofus and the fans will cheer. Meanwhile, he gets to enjoy the benefits of the publicity the low-class doofus is bringing to the league. Pretty good gig if you can get it.