Late Wednesday night, quite possibly while you were sleeping, the Dallas Cowboys announced they were releasing wide receiver Terrell Owens. The organization didn't give a formal reason for the release, but pretty much anyone that's even remotely familiar with professional football can guess why: the Cowboys no longer thought T.O.'s talent was worth the trouble.
The same fate has met Owens in San Fransisco and Philadelphia, his two previous NFL tour stops, and it's more than a pattern now. It's a ritual. Team signs Terrell Owens. Terrell Owens acts needy, paranoid, selfish, and impossible to placate. (He's like the worst boyfriend ever, except he doesn't harass you for sex when all you want to do is go to sleep.) Team decides Terrell Owens would be better off somewhere else, bothering others, and either trades him or releases him. Rinse, repeat.
The difference now, in 2009, is that Owens is 35. This offseason, NFL teams have repeatedly shown little interest in signing aging veterans. If T.O. is on the decline, can he still command a contract? If his talent dwindles, can teams afford to overlook his insanity?
Given Owens' age and soon-to-be-dwindling skills, it might -- we repeat: might -- be worth a shot. The key with Owens is risk. Paying him too much money or signing him to a long-term contract is an unacceptable risk. If you can sign him to a low-risk deal, one or two years, for a salary suddenly deflated by the economy and the sheepish free agent market, you could potentially be signing one of the best wide receivers in the game right as his perceived value is its absolute lowest. We're not a Merrill Lynch executive, but we think you'd call that a quality investment.
That goes for any team, but especially a team like, oh, the Bears, who are in desperate need of a No. 1 wide receiver not named Devin Hester. Usually, you stay away from Owens. You take the lessons other teams have learned for you. This time around, if no one else bites, placing a small bet on Owens' twilight might not be quite so ill-advised.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.