Nobody Pulled Bayless Aside to Talk About Terrell Owens

Skip Bayless loves to make things up. As a provocateur columnist turned provocateur television personality, his job depends on it.

When it comes to Terrell Owens, one of the things Bayless loves to do is pretend he started out his tenure in the Bay Area defending Owens in his columns until, “one by one,” players who somehow became aware of this “pulled him aside” and told him he had it wrong, and Owens was evil incarnate and the worst teammate in the history of the universe.

Nobody pulled him aside. Not to tell him he was wrong in defending Terrell Owens, anyway.

First of all, even if he had defended Owens in his columns (he didn’t), the number of players who would bother reading what this hack wrote probably wouldn’t be much higher than “0.”

But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that players on the team were really interested in the sports section of the San Jose Mercury News in 2001-2003. Let’s pretend that they put on their reading glasses at the team hotel and went, “hold on, this guy is defending T.O.?! How can he defend T.O.? This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” And let’s pretend they might actually seek out a slimy weasel sports columnist who was best known for being run out of several different sports cities (including Miami, Chicago, and Dallas, the latter of which is memorable for him writing a book containing pages discussing rumors that Troy Aikman was gay).

There is one small problem; Bayless didn’t start out his tenure in the Bay Area defending Owens. He was bashing him from the very beginning. In fact, he was one of the first to go after him, likely seeing him as a great source for the brand of “controversy” he loves, having seen how badly he was vilified for his touchdown celebrations in Dallas the year before.

Observe: This is an article he wrote after the 2nd game of the 2001 season, which was Bayless’s first as a Bay Area writer.

SAN FRANCISCO _ Finally the upset was within his grasp. He’s by far the most physically blessed 49er and could have challenged Marshall Faulk as the best on the 3Com Park sod Sunday. So what if he had dropped three passes? Now he would take over.

Now his teammates looked to Terrell Owens to make a play and a statement. Here came the third-and-seven pass, a little low but extremely catchable. The Rams led 22-16, but not for long.

Owens would snatch this nose-down Jeff Garcia pass. He would do for Garcia what Jerry Rice often did for an early-1990s Steve Young. He would make Garcia’s passing stats look much better than they deserved. Rice is gone and Owens was about to be, maybe for six points. Now, says No. 81, he is The Man.

His 49ers were about to become the talk of the NFC because so many players had done so much growing up. Second-year cornerbacks Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster had grown like weeds against the NFL’s fastest, scariest receivers. Running backs Kevan Barlow and Terry Jackson had made coming-of-age plays. On the run, Garcia had resembled Young at his most elusive.

Only one 49er failed to mature Sunday: Terrell Eldorado Owens.

He butter-fingered that pass and a postgame opportunity to face his failure like the man he wants to be. Barry Bonds almost always spends more time answering media questions after bad games. For the 35 minutes I was in the locker room, Owens sat sideways in front of his locker, chin on chest, ignoring teammates and reporters, staring at nothing. He refused to be interviewed.

T.O. looked something like a child forced to take a timeout.

Worse, Garcia suggested Owens wasn’t punishing himself over the four drops that contributed directly and intangibly to the 30-26 loss. No, Owens was pouting because Garcia hadn’t thrown more in his direction.

As Garcia gently put it: “He puts so much pressure on himself to be the go-to guy. He feels a bit of helplessness. He feels the opportunities didn’t come his way.”

This is inexcusable.

Owens can be so much better than this _ in the clutch and in the post-loss glare. He obviously can’t match Rice in nobility and savvy. Nobody can. Owens can’t be the deep terror Randy Moss is. But Owens can be the NFL’s most intimidating all-around receiver and this team’s leader.

If he ever grows up.

Understand, this is coming from an Owens fan. I loved the statement he made last September at Texas Stadium, running to the midfield star after his first touchdown catch and striking a pose that said, “What Cowboys’ mystique?” But Owens ruined the effect by immaturely trying it again.

He continues to say he’s hurt that management didn’t support him after that 41-24 victory. He has a point. He was fined by a coach, Steve Mariucci, whose values are rooted in Lombardi-era sportsmanship. Cultures clash.

But he cannot let his lingering bitterness distract him. For that matter, he cannot use Sunday’s emotional pregame tribute as an excuse. A tear ran down Owens‘ face as he helped hold up a giant American flag. But then it was time to gather himself like the great player he can be and lock in on football. Rice certainly would have.

But the Rams weren’t the Chicago Bears and this wasn’t Jerry Rice Day. Last December the Monsters of the Wrong Way vowed not to let Rice embarrass them. They double-covered him and allowed a virtually uncovered Owens to catch an NFL-record 20 passes. The Rams vowed not to let Owens embarrass them. Aeneas Williams, one of the league’s stronger and smarter cornerbacks, often was able to overplay Owens because he had safety backup.

The Man quickly grew frustrated.

Garcia appeared a little too jumpy and out of sync, and at least one pass to Owens became even more difficult to handle because it was tipped. But Pro Bowl receivers and team leaders set the tone by catching them anyway. Instead of feeding off Owens, J.J. Stokes dropped two and rookie Eric Johnson dropped another and failed to hang onto Garcia’s best throw, in the end zone.

After Owens dropped that third-and-seven pass, you could almost see his teammates deflate. Az-Zahir Hakim returned the punt 32 yards and Isaac Bruce caught a pass and cruised by four or five defenders 39 yards for a touchdown. Rams, 30-16.

After Garcia passed up Owens on one last game-turning third down _ “I just didn’t have a lane,” Garcia said _ the 49ers settled for a field goal and a moral victory. Faulk took over the way Owens should have.

Owens pouted.

That’s right – in only his second ever regular season game covering the 49ers, Bayless was bashing Owens for saying…nothing at all. Not to mention, he misquoted Garcia here to serve his agenda.

So why does Bayless say he defended Owens during his time there? Well, believe it or not, I don’t think he’s being malicious. I think he’s just really freak’n dumb and has a horrible memory.

Among the things Bayless has had mixed up:

*While he now talks about how Bill Walsh called him the smartest player he was ever around in terms of diagraming plays on a chalkboard, he wrote in an article in 2004 that a San Francisco executive told him Owens was “as dumb as a chair.”

*He thinks a confrontation with Todd Haley on the practice field led to a confrontation with Jason Witten. The Witten confrontation myth came from a made up story in the Dallas Morning News during the 2008 season after the infamous Ed Werder anonymous source article was heard ’round the world. This never happened, as Owens mentioned on the air, but that’s not even the point. What it is that makes this hilarious is that Todd Haley wasn’t on the team anymore when this bogus story came out. Haley was the receivers coach/passing game coordinator in Owens’s first season with the Cowboys, 2006. He then left for Arizona, where he was for the next two seasons while Owens remained in Dallas. During the 2008 season, Haley was too busy in confrontations with the likes of Anquan Boldin (such as on the sidelines during the NFC Championship game between the Cardinals and Eagles) to be yelling at Owens on a practice field. In actuality, Haley yelled at Owens about being late for a practice during 2006…something that would never have made the news for any other player because it’s not newsworthy. This was on the news at the time the way  allegations that Owens was faking a hamstring injury were. The moment he arrived in Cowboys camp, there were hundreds of cameras pointed on his every move, looking for any little non-issue they could make into a mountain, in ridiculous modern ESPN fashion.

*He claims that Owens “accusing Mariucci of taking his foot off the gas” against the Bears in 2001 was “the last straw” for General Manager Terry Donahue, whom he claims to have known very well when he was covering the team. Somehow he didn’t know him well enough to know that Donahue fired Mariucci thanks to conflict between Mariucci, John York, Bill Walsh, and himself. Now, when did he fire him? Oh, it was in early 2003. Guess what: Terrell Owens played the 2003-04 season under new head coach Dennis Erickson. That’s some last straw; Donahue was “furious about it,” according to Bayless (“it” being Owens’s comments that he hoped Mariucci would reconsider his openly-stated philosophy about not embarrassing other teams on the scoreboard because the loss in this game proved the game isn’t necessarily over when you think it is)…so much so that Owens played the next 2.5 seasons on the team, while Mariucci was gone after the next 1.5. He was furious about comments questioning a philosophy belonging to Mariucci, the guy Donahue was clearly not too fond of. (Also note at the end of the aforementioned article – another reference to the 49ers hoping to extend Owens’s contract before the start of the 2003 season to avoid him voiding and becoming a free agent).

Bayless isn’t alone in his selective memory, however. The media in general engages in this because the narrative depends on it. Owens playing for Dennis Erickson for the 49ers can’t exist the same way Owens playing for Wade Phillips in 2007 and 2008 for the Cowboys gets erased from the history books. “But but but but…Bill Parcells was the only coach he had in Dallas I thought?! The Player!” And Tony Romo going down with a broken finger for 3 games during the 2008 season where Owens’s numbers plummeted while the team went 1-2, only to skyrocket once Romo returned and the team went 3-0 before a tough loss to the Steelers, which was when Werdergate happened, must never be discussed, because it undermines Werder’s argument that Owens’s normal meeting with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to discuss the offense was proof he was feuding with Romo. And they want you to forget that Donovan McNabb was out for the season after having surgery on his groin 2 games after Owens was deactivated in 2005, leading to the Eagles’ failed season. Not to mention that McNabb had been struggling on the field with that sports hernia injury since week 3, which Owens noted in the infamous Graham Bensinger interview right before he was asked about Irvin’s comments about Brett Favre as the Eagles quarterback. And of course they don’t want you to know Owens and Jeff Garcia weren’t teammates anymore at the time of the infamous Playboy interview (2004); how else would they argue that he was a bad teammate for implying he thought there might be truth to the rumors that Garcia was gay?

I could go on and on, but since nobody is still reading at this point, I’ll end there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Donovan McNabb Agrees With Owens

What Terrell Owens said (which he has mentioned repeatedly since 2006) about McNabb telling him to “shut the fuck up” in the huddle was already confirmed by McNabb years ago. Sorry to tell you that, Skip.

“Not a lot of people would know about this because [Owens] had a great season, everything went well, everybody’s smiling and enjoying themselves,” McNabb said, “but I believe it was the third play of the game. We had an ‘all-go’ call, [I] dropped back five steps, looked downfield, at that time I didn’t feel he came open, and checked it down to [Brian] Westbrook. It was an incomplete pass.”

Alas, it was the beginning of one of the strangest sports soap operas in recent memory.

“He came back, ‘Hey, I was open, throw the ball!’ Me being into the game, [I said] ‘Hey, get in the huddle man.’ In different words, obviously. He continued to talk about how he was open, throw the ball. And it [led] to me using some language that’s really not suitable for the kids. But I’m into the game. I’m running the huddle. This is my show. I’m going to see you a lot of plays and some plays I won’t see you. That led to us talking in the locker room. I don’t argue. I feel as men we can talk. Voices are going to get raised. But we can talk as men and when the conversation is over we understand each other.

“I called him a couple of days later just to get back on the same page. I just elaborated to him, ‘Hey, if we’re going to continue to do this, we’re not going anywhere. We have to be on the same page. I brought you here for a reason, for people to understand the chemistry that we have and the things we can do, which will lead us to winning a Super Bowl.'”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Correcting Skip Bayless (again)

Welcome to Groundhog Day, the Skip Bayless version.

Terrell Owens recently went on his show (again) and (again) faced the usual barrage of Bayless’s misinformation and muddled chronology that is probably the result of senility.

And once again, I feel compelled to correct what he said, point by point. So here we go.

But let’s look at what happened in San Francisco first of all, where it did get so bad at the peak of your prime that that organization decided you were more trouble than you were worth. And they decided to basically give you away – to Philly. Do you remember who came back? Brandon Whiting, do you remember that guy, that defensive end from Philly? He played five games the next year and retired. That’s who they got back for you, because Terry Donahue – with whom I was close because I was covering the team – he was done with Terrell Owens at the peak of your prime.

First of all, going into Owens’s last season with the 49ers in 2003, Donahue met with the agent of this player they supposedly couldn’t wait to get rid of to discuss a contract extension. You see, Owens had a “void” clause in his contract coming up after the season which would allow him to become a free agent. When Donahue determined that the two sides were too far apart in numbers, they decided they were going to let him play out the season under his contract at the time and test free agency.

The 49ers could have traded Owens before or during the 2003 season, but they didn’t. Instead, he played 15 games, broke his collarbone against the Eagles in week 16, and then at the end of the year, signed the paperwork to void his contract with the desire to test the free agent market. It was only when his agent failed to submit the forms by the new deadline (as per the collective bargaining agreement) that he remained under contract with the 49ers and requested a trade.

You see, folks, Owens didn’t want to play for the 49ers under the contract he had at the time. He had already had his heart set on going to Philadelphia after spending some time with Donovan McNabb at the Pro Bowl. He wanted to go to a contender and play for more money.

And the 49ers weren’t looking to spend big money on him.

Why not? Well, for starters, they had salary cap problems. That very same off-season, the 49ers released or let go via free agency the following offensive starters:

Jeff Garcia, Garrison Hearst, Derrick Deese, Ron Stone, Tai Streets, Jed Weaver.

They were also in a bind because their franchise player at the time, Julian Peterson, was expected to command huge money, being represented by the Postons.

To Bayless and others like him, this is, “couldn’t wait to get rid of Terrell Owens.” To rational people, this is called “rebuilding.”

Moreover, the 49ers only accepted Brandon Whiting in the 3-team settlement between the Eagles, Ravens, and 49ers after Owens and his agent had filed a grievance. Initially, the 49ers had received a 2nd round draft pick from the Ravens. It’s possible they could have received more, but the 49ers moved quickly, apparently afraid the other shoe would drop and they would come away with nothing in compensation, which is what they were originally anticipating when they expected Owens would successfully file for free agency. The 49ers moved so quickly, in fact, that the Eagles complained about not being given ample time to come up with a counter offer.

The 49ers went 2-14 the next season, which didn’t come as much of a shock to most people. You see, the rebuilding 49ers weren’t getting rid of Owens with the idea that it would make their team better. They were gutting the team of its expensive veterans and starting over from scratch.

And as you well know, you got into it with Mariucci over various issues. You publicly accused him after that game in Chicago – remember that – where you said he took his foot off the gas against his good friend Dick Jauron, and I think you stand by that. But trust me, the GM Terry Donahue was furious over that. And that was one of the final nails, to him, like, “I just can’t live with that anymore.”

Two problems here.

  1. Donahue fired Mariucci. The strain between Donahue, Mariucci, and owner John York was what led to Mariucci being fired after consecutive playoff seasons.
  2. This Bears game nonsense Bayless is talking about was in 2001. “The final straw?” Owens outlasted Mariucci in San Francisco. Mariucci’s last season in San Francisco was 2002. Owens’s was 2003.

Now let’s get to the deepest issue, was with the quarterback, Jeff Garcia, who threw you a whole bunch of touchdown passes. And you took a shot at him in Playboy and then you began to campaign for Tim Rattay…but at that point it was very divisive to that football team because you even campaigned to the media – I was there listening to it – you made a plea to go to Tim Rattay the backup quarterback.

The Playboy interview Bayless is referring to came out in the summer of 2004 when the two were no longer teammates. Owens was on the Eagles, Garcia was on the Browns. Which football team was it divisive to? The Browns?

Owens never campaigned for Tim Rattay. His perfectly politically correct answer to the inflammatory question posed to him by the media after the loss to the Vikings, in which Garcia was benched for Rattay, was twisted by the likes of Bayless to serve their fictitious headlines.

Asked if he thinks it’s time to consider a quarterback change:

Owens: Who knows? That’s not my position to say we need a quarterback change, but Rat (Rattay) did a good job when he was in there. Whoever is in there, I’m going to catch the ball. Even if it’s (Ken) Dorsey, I’m going to catch the ball. All of the quarterbacks can throw deep. It’s all about timing.

There was the incident in Dallas, what was that about?…it was reported as an overdose?

It was about a bad reaction to pills he was prescribed for his broken finger against the Redskins. Owens was coming off surgery in which he had a plate inserted in his hand and was pushing hard to rehabilitate it.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bill Parcells did NOT call Terrell Owens “disruptive”

Here is, word-for-word, what Parcells said of Owens in his radio interview. The headline from the despicable weasel Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com is not accurate. What a surprise – PFT/internet media using misleading/inaccurate headlines.

Parcells never said a word about the “locker room” or any of that assorted nonsense. He was strictly speaking about Owens as a route runner, alleging Owens was an unreliable route runner who would sometimes run routes at incorrect distances, which disrupts the quarterback. It was a poor choice of adjectives from Parcells, since the media is obsessed with its sickening anti-Owens terminology – disruptive, divisive, destructive…basically any word that starts with a “d” – however there is nothing vague about it. He was speaking only of his opinion of Owens’s performance on the field:

 

Radio host: Speaking of Dallas, T.O. and his time there. There’s a lot of conversation about whether or not he should have been a Hall of Famer. You’ve had an interaction with him, you’ve had thoughts about him. Do you think he’s a Hall of Fame player?

Parcells: You know, he certainly was highly productive. He was highly productive and did some very remarkable things on the field. Now, he also came with some other things that you had to deal with, and sometimes they weren’t always pleasant for some of the places that he was. But that being said, it’s a production business and he did produce at an extremely high level. Now, there are things that go unseen by the public – the people watching the game – there are things that happen on the field that, even when they happen, the fans and the layman do not recognize what happens. And in his case, he was so unreliable in some of the things he would do – because he would, you know, sometimes we’d have a route that was called at 12 and he’d run it at 9 – and that disrupts your quarterback. And things like that. But that being said, he still was highly productive and I do think that warrants very very strong consideration. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get in shortly.

Radio Host: Would you vote him in, Bill?

Parcells: I think I would. Yup. I think I would. And, you know I had my issues with him a little bit, but, you know that’s not unlike some other players. And, you know you just have to deal with those things and make the best of it. Sometimes it’s not comfortable for everybody, but you have to make the best of it.

Radio Host: What were your issues?

Parcells: Well, punctuality was one. He was periodically late for team meetings and, you know, we had to fine him quite a bit.

Keyshawn: You fined me, too, though, so that’s nothing new. You used to fine me every other day. (laughter)

Parcells: Yeah, but I was fining you for being overweight.

Keyshawn: And it wasn’t cheap fines, either.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pssst: Donovan McNabb was INJURED in 2005

Sometimes pesky little details are forgotten as time passes.

This is not one of those times. The reason for this is this is not a little detail. This was glaring. Blatant. Huge.

And yet the media pretends it never happened to serve the ridiculous anti-Owens narrative.

You see, in that 2005 season that people use to claim that Owens “destroyed” the Eagles, McNabb suffered a bruised sternum in week 1. Then, in week 3, he suffered a sports hernia injury. That sports hernia injury would eventually force him to shut down his season and have surgery. The Eagles were 4-5 at that point (4-3 in the games Owens played in), and would go 2-5 in their last 7 games without McNabb to finish the season at 6-10.

I’m still waiting for the anti-Owens folks to explain to me how Owens caused McNabb’s injuries.

The Eagles lost the week 1 game to the Falcons 14-10, in which Owens used his cancerous, divisive, disruptive abilities to cause a Falcons player to hit McNabb in the chest and injure him. They then managed to regroup to win 3 straight and go to 3-1, but not before Owens caused McNabb to suffer a sports hernia injury by dividing the locker room.

The Eagles were 4-3 when Graham Bensinger interviewed Owens and asked him about the Eagles’ record being disappointing in comparison to their usual standard.

Bensinger: What do you make of the Eagles’ 4-3 start this season?

Owens: You know, I think a lot of the injuries have played a big part into some of our losses and, you know, I just honestly feel that if Donovan wasn’t hurt as he was, our record would probably indicate a little bit better.

This, of course, immediately led into Bensinger mentioning McNabb’s struggles and then asking his follow up question about Michael Irvin’s remark that the Eagles would have been undefeated to that point in the 2005 season with Brett Favre at quarterback. Owens decided to insult McNabb by not saying anything bad about McNabb whatsoever, like only Owens can do, instead saying it was a good assessment and going on to praise Favre. Apparently, in addition to a healthy McNabb having the Eagles in a better situation, a healthy first ballot Hall of Famer would also have the Eagles in a better situation. Owens ripped, blasted, trashed, and tore down McNabb by implying that when McNabb was playing with serious injuries, he wasn’t better than a first ballot Hall of Famer.

McNabb, who is not known to be overly sensitive or anything, realized that what Owens did was black-on-black crime, and took offense. This prompted Andy Reid to issue Owens an ultimatum: Go to McNabb and work things out, as well as stand up in front of the team to clarify what he meant in the Bensinger interview that was totally not taken out of context or anything, or he would be suspended.

Owens refused and was subsequently suspended and deactivated for the rest of the season. For some reason, Reid gave the guy who was destroying their team the chance to stay on the team, but when he refused to cooperate to soothe hurt feelings, Reid decided he didn’t want the team destroyer around anymore.

Owens made the Eagles lose a couple close games the next two weeks to the Redskins and Cowboys with the beaten and battered McNabb, then made McNabb shut down his season and have surgery, and made the Mike McMahon-led Eagles only go 2-5. Owens did this. What, do you think I’m an idiot or something?

And the damage Owens did lasted for two years, according to someone who spoke to Brian Dawkins. That’s why the Eagles returned to the playoffs the following year (2006), despite McNabb going down for the season with a knee injury. They even won their first playoff game and lost a close one to the Saints in the divisional playoffs. If only Owens hadn’t wrecked their locker room; Super Bowl win for sure. Just like in 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2003-04.

Or maybe this proves Owens was the problem in Philadelphia and they were better off without him. I can’t remember which. All I know is that if a team Owens leaves wins after he’s gone, it means he was the problem, and if that team loses, it means he destroyed the team/locker room. It was all Owens, single-handedly. But it’s a team game!

At least we know it certainly wasn’t the Eagles having a strong coaching staff and nucleus of players that had been to 3 consecutive NFC Championship games before Owens got there…one that was in no way helped by Owens in going 13-1 in the 14 regular season games Owens played in in 2004.

No matter what the truth is, Owens made teams worse. You can’t argue with that, because that would mean arguing with the sports media. When you’re disputing the claims of infallible sources such as Skip Bayless, you know you’re not where you want to be.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skip Bayless on Terrell Owens, 2001

This was after the 2nd game of the 2001 season, which was Bayless’s first as a Bay Area writer.

 

SAN FRANCISCO _ Finally the upset was within his grasp. He’s by far the most physically blessed 49er and could have challenged Marshall Faulk as the best on the 3Com Park sod Sunday. So what if he had dropped three passes? Now he would take over.

Now his teammates looked to Terrell Owens to make a play and a statement. Here came the third-and-seven pass, a little low but extremely catchable. The Rams led 22-16, but not for long.

Owens would snatch this nose-down Jeff Garcia pass. He would do for Garcia what Jerry Rice often did for an early-1990s Steve Young. He would make Garcia’s passing stats look much better than they deserved. Rice is gone and Owens was about to be, maybe for six points. Now, says No. 81, he is The Man.

His 49ers were about to become the talk of the NFC because so many players had done so much growing up. Second-year cornerbacks Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster had grown like weeds against the NFL’s fastest, scariest receivers. Running backs Kevan Barlow and Terry Jackson had made coming-of-age plays. On the run, Garcia had resembled Young at his most elusive.

Only one 49er failed to mature Sunday: Terrell Eldorado Owens.

He butter-fingered that pass and a postgame opportunity to face his failure like the man he wants to be. Barry Bonds almost always spends more time answering media questions after bad games. For the 35 minutes I was in the locker room, Owens sat sideways in front of his locker, chin on chest, ignoring teammates and reporters, staring at nothing. He refused to be interviewed.

T.O. looked something like a child forced to take a timeout.

Worse, Garcia suggested Owens wasn’t punishing himself over the four drops that contributed directly and intangibly to the 30-26 loss. No, Owens was pouting because Garcia hadn’t thrown more in his direction.

As Garcia gently put it: “He puts so much pressure on himself to be the go-to guy. He feels a bit of helplessness. He feels the opportunities didn’t come his way.”

This is inexcusable.

Owens can be so much better than this _ in the clutch and in the post-loss glare. He obviously can’t match Rice in nobility and savvy. Nobody can. Owens can’t be the deep terror Randy Moss is. But Owens can be the NFL’s most intimidating all-around receiver and this team’s leader.

If he ever grows up.

Understand, this is coming from an Owens fan. I loved the statement he made last September at Texas Stadium, running to the midfield star after his first touchdown catch and striking a pose that said, “What Cowboys’ mystique?” But Owens ruined the effect by immaturely trying it again.

He continues to say he’s hurt that management didn’t support him after that 41-24 victory. He has a point. He was fined by a coach, Steve Mariucci, whose values are rooted in Lombardi-era sportsmanship. Cultures clash.

But he cannot let his lingering bitterness distract him. For that matter, he cannot use Sunday’s emotional pregame tribute as an excuse. A tear ran down Owens‘ face as he helped hold up a giant American flag. But then it was time to gather himself like the great player he can be and lock in on football. Rice certainly would have.

But the Rams weren’t the Chicago Bears and this wasn’t Jerry Rice Day. Last December the Monsters of the Wrong Way vowed not to let Rice embarrass them. They double-covered him and allowed a virtually uncovered Owens to catch an NFL-record 20 passes. The Rams vowed not to let Owens embarrass them. Aeneas Williams, one of the league’s stronger and smarter cornerbacks, often was able to overplay Owens because he had safety backup.

The Man quickly grew frustrated.

Garcia appeared a little too jumpy and out of sync, and at least one pass to Owens became even more difficult to handle because it was tipped. But Pro Bowl receivers and team leaders set the tone by catching them anyway. Instead of feeding off Owens, J.J. Stokes dropped two and rookie Eric Johnson dropped another and failed to hang onto Garcia’s best throw, in the end zone.

After Owens dropped that third-and-seven pass, you could almost see his teammates deflate. Az-Zahir Hakim returned the punt 32 yards and Isaac Bruce caught a pass and cruised by four or five defenders 39 yards for a touchdown. Rams, 30-16.

After Garcia passed up Owens on one last game-turning third down _ “I just didn’t have a lane,” Garcia said _ the 49ers settled for a field goal and a moral victory. Faulk took over the way Owens should have.

Owens pouted.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Started Owens vs. Cris Carter

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

January 4, 1998 | Reusse, Patrick

The Man with the Plan runs into a logjam.(SPORTS)

The cameras from Home Box Office’s weekly NFL show were allowed into the Vikings’ locker room after Minnesota’s first-round victory against the New York Giants last week. Coach Dennis Green was overjoyed inside that locker room and congratulated his athletes for adhering to “the plan” he had outlined to lead his team to significant postseason success.

The Vikings then went to Phoenix for three days of preparation before facing the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the Super Bowl tournament. The Twin Cities television outlets followed the Vikings to the desert and assured viewers that the strong scent of an upset was emanating from these men in Purple.

Green put on his best look of determination for the mini-cams and suggested those expecting an easy victory for the 14-point-favorite 49ers were in for a surprise. Occasionally, there was mention of “the plan” the Vikings had taken into the playoffs.

Late Saturday afternoon, the Man With the Plan walked into a weight room-turned-interview room in the basement of San Francisco’s old ballpark. His windbreaker was wet from rain that had fallen intermittently during the 49ers’ 38-22 victory. His voice was hoarse, perhaps from hollering at an often-confused officiating crew headed by referee Bob McElwee.

“My hat’s off to the 49ers,” the Man With the Plan said. “They played a solid game. We couldn’t keep up with what they were doing on defense. Injury-wise, we came out of it . . . “

The Man With the Plan took a pause from the usual, non-stop monologue that starts his formal postgame interviews. You could see the coach thinking:

“Injuries? Why am I mentioning how we came out of this game concerning injuries? It doesn’t matter. We got whipped. There’s no game next week.”

So, the Man With the Plan dropped that subject and started taking questions. He had a brief, veiled complaint about a couple of interference calls that moved San Francisco into position for a touchdown that broke a 7-7 tie. He did not suggest the 28-yard interference call against rookie safety Torian Gray was part of a conspiracy among officials, but did say such a call made it even more difficult to stop quarterback Steve Young and the 49ers.

Finally, a reporter asked the question that had caused many of the national-media members covering this game to attend Green’s postgame news conference, rather than that of winning coach Steve Mariucci:

“What’s your future?”

The Man With the Plan stared straight ahead and said: “I haven’t thought about it.”

When will you think about it? “I said I haven’t thought about it,” he said. “I think you should respect that.”

Green was asked about speculation that he was going to wind up across the Bay – as the coach of the Oakland Raiders. Green again dismissed the question, saying all his thoughts had been with his team and his hope that the Vikings could go on the road and “pull a big upset.”

That was the man’s plan. It failed miserably. This was a horrendous mismatch. The first downs were 21-4 four minutes into the second half. The 49ers were three-and-out once in their first 10 possessions. The Vikings were three-and-out five times in their first nine.

Those numbers were mentioned to Green. “The late-week interviews from Arizona made you sound optimistic about being able to compete,” a reporter said. “Are you surprised that this was not more of a contest?”

Green stared straight ahead and said: “We thought we would play better.”

The Man With the Plan might have been surprised it was such a beating. His players did not seem to share that attitude. For the most part, they talked matter-of-factly about having been outclassed.

Receiver Cris Carter was giving what has become an annual, post-playoff-loss interview about the need for Vikings management to spend money and upgrade talent.

“We need some cover guys,” he said. “We made a couple of mediocre receivers [J.J. Stokes and Terrell Owens] look like all-stars today. If you can’t cover receivers and Steve Young is the opposing quarterback, you’re going to get picked apart. You’re going to get killed.”

Not far away, another Vikings employee was making the same point. “Look at the defensive line, if you want to know the difference between these two teams,” he said. “The ends [Chris Doleman and Roy Barker] should both be with us, if we had spent the money. They have the two studs [Dana Stubblefield and Bryant Young] on the inside. And then, for good measure, the 49ers bring in a guy like Kevin Greene.

“They bring in a linebacker like Ken Norton, a cornerback like Rod Woodson. If you look at what the 49ers have done with personnel, how can anyone be surprised by this?”

One year ago, the Vikings were beaten bloody in a playoff loss at Dallas, and predictions were made that Green had coached his last game. Green stayed and finally won a playoff game. Now, the season again has ended with his team getting killed.

“Every year, we keep coming back, and then we’re standing here, saying we need to improve,” said Roger Headrick, the Vikings’ CEO. “We thought we had improved this season. We had Ed McDaniel back. We had a young secondary that was back intact. It’s amazing – we went all season and things never changed defensively. We never adjusted . . . never got better.”

So is this it for Green, the Man With the Plan for postseason failure? “He’s a darn good coach,” Headrick said. “There are some things you would like to see Denny do better, but he’s a darn good coach.”

(taken from: https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-62572182.html)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment