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.
- Donahue fired Mariucci. The strain between Donahue, Mariucci, and owner John York was what led to Mariucci being fired after consecutive playoff seasons.
- 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.