Sports Outside the Beltway

Respected T.O. Becomes Respectable

Terrell Owens has gone from malcontent to model citizen in a few months. Could it be that, at age 32, he’s finally growing up? Or maybe, just maybe, that he started acting like a grown man about the same time that he started getting treated like one?

Clarence Hill of the Fort-Worth Star Telegraph makes a persuasive case that it’s the latter in a piece called “Longtime coach has earned Owens’ longtime respect.”

In August, Cowboys receivers coach Ray Sherman made it perfectly clear to a reporter that he was not brought in to baby-sit Terrell Owens. The reporter thought it would be a cute way to describe any new coach’s relationship with Owens and his well-chronicled history of petulance and combustibility. But Sherman, 56, didn’t find anything funny about it. He had been in the league too long to be disrespected — no matter how seemingly trivial.

Besides, Sherman goes by the simple credo that if you treat him with respect, he will treat you with respect.

Just ask Owens. He has gone from uncoachable and unreachable a year ago with then-coach Todd Haley running the receivers meetings to text messaging Sherman after games. And instead of sending messages through the media about snitches in the locker room — a not so veiled outing of Haley — he is joining the other receivers for dinner at Sherman’s house.

“It’s night and day from what I had,” Owens said. “I cherish people like that. That was the relationship I tried to have here with Todd last year. I really tried to make a concerted effort for that to happen and it didn’t happen. So I’m very fortunate for Ray. He treats us like men. We have to respect that.”


“That’s the only way I know how to treat them, with respect,” Sherman said. “You want to be a teacher first, but also put them in position where they can get the job done and work with them and get them focused on what they need to do.”


He knows the game, and he knows when to get serious. The difference is in the approach. Sherman doesn’t berate players for mistakes or curse them to get his point across as Haley often did last year.

“He will get on you, but nothing that belittles you,” receiver Patrick Crayton said. Said Owens: “There’s no hollering at you or cursing about this and that. He’s one of those guys, you know when he’s serious and you know when he’s not serious. I know when to respect that and to take his teaching and coaching as such.”

But not only is Owens taking Sherman’s teaching and coaching, he is coming back for more. Contrary to popular belief, he said he’s always wanted that. “I just didn’t have that relationship with my coach last year,” Owens said. “I’m always looking for coaching tips, for a coach to point out my weaknesses to make me better. Obviously that’s going to help the team. “If they see something that’s not right, correct me.”

Now he has that with Sherman, whom he credits with helping him stay patient and stay in the game when balls aren’t coming his way.

Sherman effectively soothing an emotional Owens on the sideline against Washington on Nov. 18 paid dividends in a career-high four touchdown performance. “I talked to him and said ‘you got to relax and stay calm… we’re going to need you,’” Sherman said. “He calmed down and patted me on the leg.”

Not long after the game, Sherman’s phone started to buzz with a text message from Owens, telling him “to keep pushing me, keep making me the best that ever was.”

“I respect who he is, him coaching me,” Owens said of Sherman. “I want to be the best in whatever I can do to help this team win. That’s all I ever wanted. I feel like I’m in a situation that’s showing that.”

Imagine that.

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