Saying goodbye to Terrell Owens makes Cowboys a team again and Jones a better owner again

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Jennifer Floyd Engel
Thursday, March 5, 2009
— Just like that, with a single decision, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones morphed from idiot owner to football genius.

About time Jerry. And congrats.

Wednesday night’s news of the Cowboys’ decision to finally cut Terrell Owens’ aging, whiny, turmoil-causing, distraction-generating, wide-receiver butt proves hope remains for Jerry yet. He saved his football soul.

Which is saying a lot considering how badly he muffed the non-hiring of Dan Reeves and bringing back Coach Cupcake this offseason.

He had to get T.O. out, and he did. And he also bought himself a playoff victory by doing so.

I probably stand alone on that teeny, tiny limb Thursday morning as doomsayers predict Cowboys failure without No. 81. And while there is no doubt the Cowboys are a little less explosive on the field now, they are far less radioactive off of it and this makes them a better team.

It makes them a team. Period.

They were not one last season, not when it mattered and not at all by the end. They did not like each other, as evidenced by what happened after that Philly debacle to end the season. Players and coaches were tripping over themselves to toss anybody but themselves under the bus.

Jerry had been denying this radioactivity in his locker room for a while now, a big reason why he had been retagged as a football idiot. Especially considering Cowboy players had been debunking this Kumbaya nonsense openly and publicly and bluntly for a while.

“Whoever they bring in I’m OK with as long as there is no more egos,” Cowboys linebacker Bradie James told me Saturday. “The ego experiment obviously did not work.”

Apparently Jerry was listening after all, to Bradie and to his football people.

Sources said this decision came after more than a week of Jerry soliciting advice and opinions from coaches, scouts and team execs regarding T.O.

What they told him is T.O. is 35, not getting any younger, not getting any better and he’s a distraction. He had rocky relationships with QB Tony Romo, with tight end Jason Witten, with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. And by season’s end, he had effectively split the locker room to the point where guys who used to be friends were calling one another “cowards” and “snitches” and worse.

In a leaderless locker room, T.O. was as close as they had in the leadership category and he used his powers for evil rather than good. He undermined Romo and JG and everybody who did not kiss his butt. Everybody knew it. The question was would Jerry admit it.

T.O. was his guy, his risk, his decision.

Not only was Jerry willing to admit a mistake (a $9.6 million mistake in salary cap terms) but he actually cleaned up after himself by cutting T.O. when he did, before offseason workouts begin, before he talked to another teammate or further spread the gospel according to T.O.

Oh, it is a year and a contract extension too late.

But Jerry did the right thing. It is also exactly what this Cowboys team needs. Cutting T.O. makes them better this season despite losing their leading receiver.

Romo will be better when he can get the ball to the guy who is open rather than forcing it to the guy who always thinks he is. The offense will function better now that they no longer have to pretend T.O. is the best playmaker on the team, using their running game and Witten as well as seeing if Roy Williams really was worth a first-round pick.

Owens was not the best playmaker on the Cowboys.

For starters, he did not have the hands. Never has. His route running always has been subpar and, once he lost his ability to “out-athlete” cornerbacks, he became an expensive JAG who demands you take into account everything else.

His temper tantrums.

His divisive locker room antics.

His me-me-me attitude.

His dismissive attitude toward teammates.

If being cut by the Cowboys does not make T.O. look in the mirror, nothing ever will. Jerry wanted to make this work, gave T.O. every chance to make it work and in the end decided exactly what San Fran and Philly did.

He’s just not worth it.

It is crazy really. The guy is pretty talented and yet he has been cut by three teams while still playing at a decently high level. Of course, T.O. has never made the connection that this might say something about him. He is in the blaming-somebody-else mode.

Just last season, it was the offensive coordinator and quarterback and Witten and scheme. Who knows who it was going to be this season.

Which is why T.O. had to go. And why Jerry deserves so much credit.

This is a huge gamble. Nobody knows if The Good Roy Williams is the No. 1 receiver Jerry thinks he is, but they were never going to find out with T.O. in his ear and counting his touches. And there was no way T.O.’s ego was going to allow him to become a No. 2 receiver.

Or a good teammate.

No matter how hard he tried or how political he was, Romo was clearly sick of this relationship. In the end, he was like every other quarterback T.O. has played with, sick of his stuff, sick of always being to blame, sick of T.O.

Now this becomes Romo’s team, no headaches, no excuses.

And for making that happen, Jerry deserves credit for being a football genius.

Last updated: 9:56 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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