No, Owens did not lead the league in dropped passes multiple times, as Skip Bayless has alleged. Here were the league leaders in drops from 1996-2010 (the years Owens was in the NFL):
http://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/drops/ (add year after the backslash)
1996: Rickey Dudley, OAK. 17.
1997: Rod Smith, DEN. 15.
1998: Bert Emanuel, TB. 13.
1999: Frank Sanders, ARI, Tim Brown, OAK. 14.
2000: Rod Smith, DEN. 17.
2001: Jeff Graham, SD. 14.
2002: Marvin Harrison, IND. 16.
2003: Darrell Jackson, SEA, Fred Taylor, JAC. 12.
2004: Chad OchoJohnson, CIN. 14.
2005: LaMont Jordan, OAK. 12.
2006: Terrell Owens, DAL. 17.
2007: Braylon Edwards, CLE, Dallas Clark, IND. 12.
2008: Braylon Edwards, CLE. 16.
2009: Vernon Davis, SF. 12.
2010: Wes Welker, NE. 13.
That’s once – 2006 – and that year, Owens had a broken finger that required surgery.
Remember the “suicide attempt” overdose on pills? Those pills were prescribed for the broken finger he suffered. He broke it in week 2 against the Redskins and was rehabbing it during the bye week. At the time, it was uncertain whether he’d be able to play after said bye week, but he made it back and didn’t miss any games.
The hilarious part is I can imagine some people arguing that Rod Smith should get Hall of Fame consideration (statistics, Super Bowl rings), yet he actually did lead the NFL in drops multiple times.
Lost in all of this is the fact that the difference between leading the league in drops or being middle of the pack tends to be only a handful of drops. If you drop 10, which was Owens’s typical year, you are near the top of the NFL in drops. If you drop only 7…you’re Marvin Harrison. That’s 3 whole passes.
And somehow, that’s what defines the quality of a receiver. Forget comparing big plays and touchdowns relative to situation. Forget actually watching them and seeing who does it with talent and who does it because of the system, or has a play or two of pure luck from blown coverage to inflate the numbers.
Instead, let’s evaluate them on dropped passes, which often means they had to get open in the first place.
But the average idiot would think a guy who caught 82 passes for 1200 yards and 8 TDs and only dropped 5, playing with a great QB, is better than a guy who caught 82 passes for 1400 yards and 14 TDs with a mediocre QB, but dropped 10.
People talk about drops, but they don’t talk about plays where a receiver didn’t get open.
They talk about drops, but they don’t talk about passes where a quarterback missed an open receiver. They all do. Where are the statistics for that? Because in the end, while drops feel worse because they are more of a letdown and catching the ball often seems easier than making an accurate throw down the field, the end result is the same. It’s an incomplete pass (except in rare cases where it results in an interception…and that can happen for both missed passes and drops/tips).