Distraction or not, T.O. is one of the greatest receivers to ever lace ‘em up
The following is an excerpt from Christopher Pierznik’s new book In Defense Of… Supporting Underappreciated Artists, Athletes, Actors, and Albums, in which the author defends and celebrates individuals, teams, and projects that were unfairly maligned or misunderstood from the world of music, sports, TV & film. It can be purchased in both paperback and Kindle.
He was the prototype for the modern wide receiver, too big for cornerbacks and too fast for safeties. He had no fear going over the middle and was a far better blocker than many of his peers. He is the only receiver in NFL history to be named a First Team All-Pro with three different organizations. Deion Sanders, the greatest cover corner in history, has said he was the receiver he least liked to play against. He is a six-time Pro Bowler and a member of the 2000s All-Decade team. He ranks in the top ten for most career receiving records, including receptions (sixth, with 1,078), yards (second, with 15,934), and touchdowns (third, with 153). Check any list of the greatest wide receivers of all time and his name will be there.
Yet, in spite of all of that, Terrell Owens is one of the most despised, and thus, underrated athletes in recent memory. His attitude and his antics got him banished from San Francisco, Philadelphia, and even Dallas, despite his historic production and one-of-a-kind physical gifts. And while his ultimate exile from the sport was certainly self-imposed, the narrative on T.O. as a locker room cancer and quarterback killer had been written early on, so anything he did was immediately seen as selfish and in poor taste.