My wife and I were getting ready to hit the bar on the last night of a lovely vacation in Laguna Niguel when my phone started ringing. I had that dreaded feeling -- is everyone OK? Do I owe somebody a script that I spaced on amidst the frivolity of our first true break in three years? Did my mom finagle a way to get ahold of my private number?!
Then a voicemail from my old radio pal, Todd Wright, spilled the beans. My hometown Buffalo Bills had done the previously unthinkable and signed Terrell Owens to a free-agent contract.
This just doesn't happen in Buffalo. No, we get passed over by the big names. Hell, we get passed over by Fred Taylor, a guy with a million miles on the tires looking to tack on a couple more paydays!
I got a lot of feedback about how crazy the signing was, but I am here to tell you as a guy who never misses a Bills game, I like it. I like it a lot, 'cuz it's time to shake things up. The search for affable, high-character players is admirable, but it has led the Bills to strange moments of inexplicable largesse. Nothing against a hard worker like Chris Kelsay, but four years at $23 million is a crapload of money for a guy who averages two sacks a season. Ditto the recently-jettisoned guard Derrick Dockery, who got the highest contract in team history at $49 million... only to get cut. For all that classy team building, we haven't made it to the playoffs since 2000.
Just to underscore how listless the Bills have been, the face of this team has been a punter. No joke -- Brian Moorman has been the most consistent player for the past eight years. I mean, it could be Marshawn Lynch, but alas, he seems to save his beast-mode A-game for his increasingly bilious social life. I say it's about time we paid the going price for a difference-maker, and if, indeed, the deal is $6.5 million for one season, I think we actually look kinda smart. T.O. always delivers after a divorce, and we aren't on the hook for the traditional throw-the-QB-under-the-bus year.
Picture facing the dreaded third-and-long with a spread package of Owens, Lee Evans, crazy-fast Roscoe Parrish and dependable Josh Reed. Maybe even toss in a slick tight end via the draft, and by God, someone better be open on every play. We just turbo-charged our offense!
To think, just a week ago we were sniffing around Laveranues Coles, only to see him get essentially the same money T.O. got over too many years at his age, to go play for the once-again crappy Bengals. I am tempted to say we have the best wide receiver tandem this side of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Oh, that's right -- Boldin might not play for Arizona this year, so who else ya got? No more Marvin and Reggie in Indy. No more T.J. and Chad in Cincy. Marques Colston and Lance Moore in New Orleans? Formidable, but a lot of that production is thanks to Drew Brees.
Anyone else? Oh, yeah. Randy Moss and Wes Welker in New England. OK, you might have us there, but it also brings me to my next point. The one thing we can be damn sure of is that T.O.'s crazy craves attention. He lives to even scores when he feels slighted, so let's take a look at the Bills 2009 opponents through the megalomaniacal, narcissistic lens of an elite wide receiver forced to play in Buffalo:
Dolphins -- Two words: Bill Parcells. Three more words: Didn't want me! Put T.O. down for TWO HUGE GAMES!
Patriots -- Going head-to-head with Randy Moss alone = two more BIG GAMES!
Jets -- Well, at least the road game in New Jersey guarantees a big game from Owens -- the stage is large. Yes, Rex Ryan's "D" is going to be tough, but I say the ego wins out -- BIG GAME! MAYBE TWO!
Bucs -- Could have signed me, didn't -- BIG GAME
Colts -- Should have signed me to replace Marvin, didn't -- BIG GAME
Saints -- Nothing personal here, but the Saints average about 50 points per game, so just to stay alive, T.O. must have... a BIG GAME!
Texans -- Can we get him upset about all this attention Andre Johnson keeps getting? Oh yeah -- BIG GAME!
Browns -- Everybody goes yard against the Browns' pass defense -- BIG GAME!
Jags -- Should have signed me, didn't -- BIG GAME!
Panthers -- Some consider Steve Smith to be the best pure wideout in the league... -- BIG GAME!
Titans -- Should have signed me -- BIG GAME!
Chiefs -- Should have signed me -- BIG GAME!
Falcons -- Well, they can't all be big games... but maybe this is the one we play in Toronto! Are you kidding me -- an entire nation to show off for? BIG GAME!
So there you have it -- psycho-scientific proof that T.O. plays 16 huge games ... provided Trent Edwards can uncork the ball enough. Lots of pressure on the kid, but hearing that he lobbied for the Bills to sign Owens tells me he's got all the moxie needed.
Worst-case scenario? It doesn't pay off, he lost a step, and we miss the playoffs again, but this time it's with gusto! We get some good theater and expose T.O. to a fan base that really doesn't dig prima donna acts.
Be warned, Mister Owens: We know you're not a "Buffalo Guy," and that's cool. Catch 10 TDs, and we'll show you love like you never got in fickle towns like Frisco, Philly and Big D. However, if you start blaming everyone else when you drop 10 TD passes, hell hath no fury like a snowplow driver from Cheektowaga who gave up cable and Canadian beer so he could afford a season ticket and is just looking for an honest day's work out of you.
Now let's get out there and make the damn playoffs!