Terrell Owens' story doesn't add up.
Follow this timeline ...
On Wednesday, Owens goes on WEEI radio in Boston and says the following:
"People think that they have that perception about me. Of course. Any receiver ... what receiver that's out there that's had great stats, great careers, that didn't want the ball? I'm no different," Owens said. "But of course -- I mean, you've got Brady there. You've got the great mind, coach (Bill) Belichick. "I'm like LeBron (James). I can go there and take less of a role, take less money and put everything aside and make it work."
Owens added he would "definitely be open" to playing for the Patriots this season.
On Thursday, Panthers LB Jon Beason appears on NFL Network and does a chat for NFL.com, in which he says, "There's no way T.O. could be a Panther. Based on the fact that our ownership and coaches believe that the locker room is important and based on T.O.'s history, for whatever reason, he's been a distraction the locker room."
On Friday, Beason posted the following on his Twitter account:
"I have to apologize for my comments regarding T.O. I personally would want him on our team in Carolina. He's been a great WR for a very long time and will without a doubt be a hall of famer. ... I was asked if I 'thought' the panthers would bring in T.O. ... If asked would I win the lottery I'd reply with the same answer... NO. ... In my mind both probabilities are unlikely. I never said I wouldn't take T.O. in carolina. He'd be a great addition opposite steve smith."
On Friday, Owens' agent Drew Rosenhaus (also agent for Jon Beason) went on ESPN and said:
"It's really picking up, and this isn't just agent rhetoric. I'm very encouraged as of late. I'm very optimistic that Terrell will have multiple options to choose from between now and the start of most training camps."
Rosenhaus added that he's talking with five teams and said that one has aggressively joined the picture.
Something is not right here. Do you think that maybe Rosenhaus had a little chat with Beason (client-to-client privilege) and asked him to back off the comments about T.O. for the good of his business? I am not saying he did, but where there is smoke, there might be a little fire.
As for five teams interested in T.O., maybe there are, but where? Last week, Owens blamed the media for all his "perceived character problems", then went on to say he had an issue with Chiefs coach Todd Haley and would never want to play for him. So my question is this: Is it the media or is it T.O.? And where are the five teams?
Different recipes, similar ingredients
I have to admit it -- I love to watch the Food Network. I love almost every show ("Molto Mario" was my favorite) because they all have a different spin and style on standard dishes.
Think about it -- 24 hours a day they have someone showing you how many different ways there is to make veal parmesan or chicken cordon bleu. But many watch because it is fascinating to see all these highly trained chefs show you their different techniques and philosophies on the art of cooking.
These shows are similar to what happens in the league before the season starts -- 32 different recipes, each prepared slightly different, but with similar ingredients.
In order to win "Top Chef" in the NFL, those ingredients must be placed in the right spot and blend perfectly. What are those key ingredients, however?
When I was working for the Eagles in 1997, owner Jeffrey Lurie asked me to do a study on the Super Bowl winners of years past. He wanted to know what was the common preparation method that enabled those teams to be successful.
Studying one team was not going to give me enough data to make my recommendations, so I decided to study all four conference title game participants from each season. That gave me plenty of data to work with. From this study, I penned a paper entitled "Championship Game Plan," which built the foundation for what I thought it required to be a Super Bowl contender.
My conclusions were not earth-shattering, but did show that the best teams had to have very good offensive and defensive lines. How good? Well, in order to reach the championship game, teams must have at least a total of seven red or blue players among both lines.
A blue player is championship caliber and rates among the top 10 at his position in the league. He is good enough to create mismatches vs. most opponents. He must also be one of the team's featured players and have a direct impact on the outcome of the game.
A red player is one that plays the game with no real weaknesses, is a solid starter and will be able to capitalize on certain opponents, but is never consistently dominant. He might not play as well against the league's very best, but shows up each week and has a high degree of competitiveness, ranking among the top 15 at his position.
Two other positions make a huge difference in determining success. The first is quarterback. Both Super Bowl teams last year had a blue-level quarterback (the Colts' Peyton Manning and the Saints' Drew Brees). Even the most casual fan knows a team needs a top passer to win a championship.
The other vital spot is a top coach. In today's game, the coach is crucial to a team's success and really no expense should be spared in hiring one. Defining and finding a great coach, though, has been the hardest thing in the league to do.
Some time in the near future, I will write a column evaluating the coaches.
As for right now, however, I want to lay the groundwork for an idea that came to me courtesy of my friend Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy at ESPN.
Last year, Simmons wanted me to write a column using my skills as an evaluator to come up with a point total for each team by determining how many blue- and red-chip players each team had and then factoring in the coach.
From that point total, I would then rank all 32 teams heading into the preseason. It is a fairly simple idea, but it should be very revealing.
I will use the grading system to examine every AFC team Tuesday and the NFC will come Thursday.
Sunday, just one week away from the first preseason game, I will use my "Championship Game Plan" project to rank every team.
Things I hear ...
» Pittsburgh has no intentions of letting outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley walk away when his deal is done, but they just cannot get him signed right now. This is not an uncommon problem in the league with the uncertainty of the labor agreement looming.
» According to coaches around the league, Browns first-round pick Joe Haden has not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner. Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanted to take Kyle Wilson over Haden was true.
» It was smart for the Steelers to lock up Mike Tomlin with an extension. Tomlin is one of the game's bright young coaches and to keep him secure was a smart play. The Steelers have always had great respect for coaches (they've only had three since 1969).
» Coach Pete Carroll will be successful in Seattle. After recently spending time with him in Los Angeles doing "NFL Total Access" you gain a sense of real confidence from his demeanor.
He is not arrogant, but is very confident in his ability to coach, and that will rub off on his team. I think the Seahawks will surprise some people this year.
Also, Carroll said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is healthy, in the best shape of his career and ready to have a great season.
» Every team will waive a player if he is out for the season before camp starts like the Giants did with talented wide receiver Domenik Hixon, If they don't, the player will count on their 80-man roster for training camp.
Once he is waived, he goes off the 80 count and on injured reserve. If a team claims him, then they have to pay his full salary, handle his rehab and need to count him on the 80-man roster.
From the film room
Many teams run some form of the West Coast offense, with regard to their passing game. The true essence of what Bill Walsh had in mind when he built his offense was more about philosophy than play design, however.
Walsh believed that to be successful you had to throw the ball early, build the lead at the half and have a complementary defense that could rush the passer.
With that in mind, one critical statistic I always review every four weeks during the season is first-half point differential.
The leaders in this area normally go to the playoffs and make a hard charge towards winning the Super Bowl. As you can see here from last year, only one team outside the top 12 made the playoffs (Baltimore at No. 16:
When a team gains the lead at the half, its defense can take some chances. When a team is down, one mistake by the defense in the second half can cost a team the game. Conversely, one great call can create a turnover and turn a 10-point lead into a 17-point, game-over advantage.
» I am extremely excited to see 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I have such fond memories of the draft when I was working with San Francisco and we selected Rice. I wish I saved Bill Walsh's note on the can of film describing what he saw on the tape after watching Rice: John Jefferson ... with speed.
» I loved spending time with the Colts' Jeff Saturday last week. He was the star of the Broadcasting Bootcamp and I can see why. He has a love of football and wants to become a broadcaster when his career is over. I bet he will be a good one.
I also loved spending time with Beason. He was great and has a solid feel for the league.
» I have a feeling the Cowboys might be the first team to sign a first-rounder. They report Saturday and never seem to have trouble getting their deals done. I expect them to be very busy this week.
» There is some concern Colts safety Bob Sanders might never be able to play football again, with his shoulder and bicep issues. He reduced his contract, but his rehab has been slow.