Sports Outside the Beltway

Terrell Owens on Cover of ESPN’s 2006 NFL Preview

Terrell Owens on Cover of ESPN's 2006 NFL Preview Photo An enlightening and touching piece by Tom Friend on controversial wideout Terrell Owens is featured in the current issue of ESPN the Magazine, garnering the cover to boot. For those not familiar with the man’s backstory, it helps explain why he is how he is. And there’s a lot of good and bad from the people who know Terrell, the football player, best.

This story, which I’d never seen before, is quite instructive of both sides of the man’s complex personality:

In a home playoff game that day against the Packers, Owens’ stone hands resurfaced. He fumbled once and dropped four balls. As he sat on the sidelines, awful childhood memories flooded back. Like when he’d fallen asleep on a high school bus with his mouth open, and a teammate spit on his tongue. Like when kids called him “Purple Pal” for being so dark-skinned. That’s how those four botched passes made him feel — angry, insecure — and he figured, that’s it, they’re not going to throw to me again. He didn’t trust them, Tuna. He doesn’t trust anybody, Tuna.

So he walked up to Young and said, “Steve, believe in me.” And Young was stunned. He told TO, “You’re one of the best in the league, and you’re only your third year in, so don’t worry about me believing in you, okay? Just catch the next one.”

The next one came with three seconds left, the 49ers trailing by four. Owens ran a route called “All Go Double Comeback,” and caught it at the goal line with two Packers aiming for his skull. He sobbed afterwards, which was an odd reaction to some, but not Derrick Deese, the 49ers left tackle who played dominos with Owens virtually every day. “TO was emotional because the touchdown signified that we knew what he knew — that we had to go back to him to win the game,” Deese says. “That meant more than the catch.”

A whole lot more at the link.

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