By Pete Deluca
News broke late Tuesday night that free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens reached an agreement to play for the Cincinnati Bengals this fall. Owens spent the offseason out of the NFL spotlight after a one-year stint with the Buffalo Bills, resulted in the worst statistical season of his 14-year career.
Even through all the struggles that the Bills’ faced last season Owens still managed to flash signs of being the T.O. we all remembered.
In his prime, he was arguably the most dominant receiver to take the field. If he never played another down, he would retire third all-time in both receiving touchdowns and receiving yards. He is one of only 6 players to have 1,000 career receptions and the high level of play he maintained throughout his career earned him five All-Pro selections, six trips to the Pro Bowl, and a starting spot on the NFL 2000’s All-Decade team.
Now… to the other side of the coin. The national attention he’s received off the field made “TO” a household name for all the wrong reasons. He had press conferences where he’s called out his quarterbacks for everything from their performance to their sexuality. Other bizarre incidents include a risqué Monday Night Football skit, a mysterious hydrocodone overdose, and a public meltdown during a postseason press conference. In 14 seasons, Owens racked up thousands of dollars in fines – which included a $35,000 punishment for spitting in the face of Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
Like Owens, the Cincinnati Bengals are no stranger to off-the-field controversy. In fact, since 2000 the Bengals lead all NFL teams with 31 arrests. Their current roster is littered with high risk players including Tank Johnson, Adam “Pacman” Jones, and Cedric Benson - who was arrested for assault one month ago after he punched a bartender in the face.
Owens had his share of controversy, but he does not have a criminal record. He claims to have never drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, or done drugs and, in spite of being one of the oldest receivers in the league, he still has the raw talent to take over a game. The Bengals, who were Super Bowl contenders headed into the season, may have just made the move that puts them over the top… or it may destroy their whole team.
Either way - get your popcorn ready!