Forgive Terrell Owens for thinking that raising a ruckus in Dallas was the point.
Both he and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones knew what they were getting when they tied the contractual knot three years ago. A mirror would have confirmed that. And only one could afford to cause more trouble than he’s worth.
The only surprising thing about Jones breaking his self-imposed gag order on all T.O.-related matters to announce Owens’ release is that it came so soon after they renewed their vows with a four-year, $34 million extension last summer.
Jones may be unsentimental. But as someone who made his fortune as an oil wildcatter, gambling is still second nature. Even so, taking on talented headaches such as Owens, considering the franchise hasn’t won a postseason game in 13 years, increasingly looks like a bad bet.
So when you hear the Cowboys boss talking about taking the team in a “new direction,” he’s talking about risk management. Apparently, the football people he ignored all these years finally convinced Jones that fielding a winning team might be an even better way to push product, not to mention much easier on his checkbook and everybody else’s nerves.
Jones hated closing down the local chapter of “Boys Town” in Dallas, and not just because bringing in T.O. — whose only crime is selfishness — as well as Adam “Pacman” Jones and Tank Johnson was his idea.
But Jones is on the hook for close to $800 million of the $1.1 billion sunk into the stadium the Cowboys are bringing online next season, so apparently he’s willing to give winning a try.
Letting Owens go now is a smart move, addition by subtraction. The Cowboys will miss his production, no doubt, but since T.O. has blown up the locker room of every other NFL team he played for, the collateral damage he’ll cause somewhere else is a plus. Besides, the NFC East rivals the Cowboys worry about most already have had the pleasure of his company (Philadelphia), or gone on the record and said no thanks for the opportunity (New York Giants and Washington).
Those who think otherwise and point to Randy Moss’ resurgence with New England miss two important points. T.O. is five years older than Moss; and there are only so many teams in the league with coaches powerful enough to lay down the law and a host of veterans just itching to back him up.
Tennessee gets mentioned as a possibility, perhaps even Indianapolis in the wake of Marvin Harrison’s departure, and there’s always Oakland. All are in the AFC, and none will cause Jones to lose any sleep.
A few weeks ago, Jones was asked whether he was worried about his team’s chemistry. “Not at all,” he said. “Not at all.
“And if y’all knew more about some of the things that you write about,” he couldn’t resist lecturing reporters a moment later, “you wouldn’t be as concerned.”
Apparently Jones was the one who needed a refresher course. His football people only had to remind him there are minimum oxygen requirements for every clubhouse, and T.O. was consuming much more than his share. With him gone, quarterback Tony Romo not only will breathe better; he and the rest of the offense, as well as coordinator Jason Garrett and head coach Wade Phillips, will conserve plenty of energy by not having to look over their shoulders as much.