Terrell Owens might want to give fellow out-of-work wide receiver Joe Horn a call to see what it's like to want to play, have the ability to play, yet have no team want you to play for them.
Upset that he would have to compete for a starting job last offseason, Horn, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, asked for and was granted his release after there were no takers for trades. Horn hasn't played a snap since. He drummed up enough interest for one or two teams to give him workouts during the 2008 season but his playing days look to be over.
Cowboys release Owens
Owens could be in the same situation, although his departure from Dallas didn't come via a personal request. It was a far more ungracious exit, forced by a team that felt it could no longer tolerate him. His talent was trumped by chemistry and peace of mind, which, as far as the Cowboys go, is saying something.
Owens has already become radioactive around the league. Less than 12 hours after the news of his release broke Wednesday night, more than a half-dozen teams were seemingly tripping over themselves to take their names out of the running, sending out word in the media that they have no interest in Owens. The list is sure to grow longer as time passes.
His rep is what it is, and what it is isn't good. Dallas eating millions of dollars to keep him away speaks volumes; the Cowboys gave him a four-year, $34 million extension last June that included a $12.9 million bonus.
Also working against the 35-year-old Owens is his age. The past few weeks have been a purge period for the once outstanding. Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Darren Sharper and Marvin Harrison have been cast aside because they're in their early-to-mid 30s, cost a lot and aren't as productive as they once were.
Owens, of course, has done himself no favors by stirring up drama throughout his career at San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas. He hasn't been helped by the fact that the 49ers and Eagles, although they haven't won any championships, have been much more stable since he left their respective buildings.
Is there a market for Owens? Probably not anytime soon, but you never know. His ability to produce and draw double teams could be tempting, especially since there are still teams who value measurables more than anything.
The 11 teams with new coaches probably wouldn't want to take on the sizeable risk because Owens might not be the right fit for a rebuilding or re-tooling franchise, or be the type of influence these teams would want around their younger players. The three teams that exiled him won't likely be interested in a reunion.
Of course, there are the Raiders. Don't ever count them out when it comes to older players who can possibly add something. But again, they have a new coach in Tom Cable and they actually look like they're trying to go younger. Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree could give them more return as a long-term investment.
If there is a team that could take a chance on him it could be the Vikings, although his well-publicized clash with Brad Childress in Philadelphia would make this appear, on the surface at least, unlikely. But however unlikely, there is a case to be made for Owens landing in Minnesota.
The Vikings recently made a huge push for T.J. Houshmandzadeh and missed out. A bigger receiver that is not afraid to block could be on the menu. Childress is also in a situation where he doesn't have much to lose. If the Vikings don't get to the playoffs or do something should they advance to postseason play, his job security could be on thin ice. Desperate men have been known to make desperate moves.
If T.O. were to help open up an offense that already features tailback Adrian Peterson and gets Minnesota deep into the playoffs, the reward could be greater than any risk -- especially if Owens is playing on an incentive-laden, one-year contract, which might be the scenario if he gets squeezed by a nervous market and he's left with few other options.
Owens has shown to be productive player on a short-term basis and he would create enough attention to keep all eyes locked on the Vikings as they not only try to win games, but generate enough momentum to get a new stadium built. T.O. taking over the same position Randy Moss used to play for the Vikings? What about that for irony?
Not to be overlooked, Owens has a very good relationship with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart. In fact, Stewart is one of the few people Owens' sincerely trusts. Stewart was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, where Owens went to the Pro Bowl three times. More importantly to Stewart, they developed a bond that is still intact.
When I covered the Falcons for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stewart was the receivers coach under Jim Mora. We had several conversations about Owens, and Stewart often spoke of how much he liked T.O. as a person. Owens was very skeptical of people because he viewed most of the world as insincere, Stewart told me. Stewart didn't know why, but he was able to crack through and be a sounding board for the complex receiver.
Although it is a shrinking group, Stewart isn't alone in his support of Owens. A lot of people, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, have tried to embrace him. But their conviction on his behalf sometimes cost them other relationships. The only way to make good was to cut ties and move on with their football lives.
Now we'll see if Owens gets an opportunity to do the same.
I'm not sure how to feel about such a move, because I don't like TO at all, but the editor does have a point, TO would open our offense up to make bigger plays for Peterson.