In 2006, along with many, I would have bet the mortgage that Terrell Owens would not be a problem for the Washington Redskins to worry about as they prepared to face the Dallas Cowboys in 2008. The only question would have been if the Cowboys still were dealing with the radioactive remnants of the inevitable TO-induced explosion.
I was wrong.
When the Dallas Cowboys signed Owens two and a half years ago, I was delighted. Certainly, it seemed that Owens had some ability left in his then 32-year-old body, but age was sure to catch up with him. But before his age caught up with him, his selfish, love-me-some-me attitude would, sooner or later, bring down the entire Cowboys organization.
In the sooner part of the relationship, things almost did go sour. Drew Bledsoe couldn't hit the inside of a barn from inside the barn. Old school Bill Parcells barely was tolerant of the TO, who marches to a decidedly different drummer. Owens' grumbling was growing louder and an explosion seemed imminent.
Before the timer on the ticking time bomb hit 0:00, however, Parcells yanked Bledsoe and inserted the untested Tony Romo. All of a sudden TO was getting fed all the footballs he could eat. The offense started to click, Owens was having fun.
Things continued to roll in '07 and the only memorable TO moment came when he shed tears at the end of the Cowboys' playoff loss. This year, it's so far so good.
As difficult as it is to do, it's time to say it: Jerry Jones gambled and won.
He didn't just draw to an inside straight; he threw four cards back in and got dealt a royal flush.
Jones planted a turd and roses grew.
While Owens has maintained his healthy ego, he is being fed the ball, money, and attention and that has kept him happy and allowed him to perform at a very high level. And the chances of him blowing up and turning into the locker room cancer that everyone expected him to be by now are very, very slim.
And he will present a very, very big headache for the Redskins on Sunday. Owens beat them almost single-handedly last year in Dallas, torching the Washington defense with 8 catches for 173 yards and four touchdowns.
Anything close to a repeat of that performance and the Redskins will be in deep trouble. Even if they contain him in this game, he will be a thorn in their side all year because he makes their division rival a much better team.
I don't want to get into what might have happened had the Redskins brought in Owens instead of Brandon Lloyd. We don't know how that would have worked out. Mark Brunell's passing may well have pushed him over the edge in no time.
But my hat is off to Jerry Jones, who in this case proved to be crazy like a fox.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org