Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Third Coming of Terrell Owens

One of my favorite poems is The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats. I don't know what prompted his outburst of genius that was first published in 1921. It certainly wasn't the Dallas Cowboys, and yet it's an eerie narration of the trainwreck developing around the 2008 version.

Obviously not good news for Dallas fans. Consider these lines from Yeats:

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Look at what's happened and continues to happen in Dallas since their impressive 3-0 start. They're losing to bad teams and just got rolled by one of the worst. They're starting quarterback is hurt and the general panic will probably force him back too soon. Meanwhile, Brad Johnson - well passed whatever "prime" he had - has stepped into the void by creating another. Pacman Jones, Felix Jones, and their punter have also fallen away; only Felix will definitely return. And the spectre of an unhappy Terrell Owens looms over the whole mess.

The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

As the Cowboys' wagon starts to throw wheels, it's not Tony Romo or DeMarcus Ware or Marion Barber or Wade Phillips who grabs the reins. It is Jerry Jones. He tells anyone with a camera or mic that Pacman was just having too much fun, no big deal. He consoles Terrell Owens, who is crying on the sideline during a miraculous win. He diagnoses Romo's thumb by acting as the wide receiver (a truly disturbing revelation). He trades for Roy Williams. And just wait for this week.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man; a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun.

The 'boys were staring a loss from the Cincinnati Bengals right in the face until that miracle touchdown delivered them from the evil of another loss. Of course, allowing a ball to slip through the intended receiver's hands and into another's is not exactly pitiless. Nor was Dallas guaranteed a loss had the play happened differently. And it would be better if it had been the Detroit Lions. So it's a stretch; sue me.

While all about it reel shadows of the indignant desert birds; the darkness drops again.

The Cowpokes couldn't repeat the miracle against the Arizona Cardinals last week. Although they came close, in the end it was the National Football League's desert birds who really knocked Dallas off its axle. And they dropped more than the darkness of a second loss. They took out Romo, Felix Jones, and the punter in little over an hour. Even worse, they brought the harsh glare of the media into sharper focus.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards [Dallas] to be born?

That rough beast is an unhappy Terrell Owens, a truly terrifying proposition for his team's fanbase. It sounds harsh because Owens really does want to win. However, I don't think it's for the greater glory of the team. I think it's because great players win championships and he desperately wants to be considered great. It's insecurity that drives him and simultaneously prevents him from reaching his goal. Regardless, what he wants matters little compared to what he does.

Because Terrell Owens has an unblemished history of turning Super Bowl contenders into disasters.

Once upon a time and in a galaxy that seems far, far away - my San Francisco 49ers were a perennial playoff team and came oh-so-close to playing on football's grandest stage. Then T.O. blew the hole thing the smithereens. Management just finished the job.

Nobody forgets what Owens did to the Philadelphia Eagles and Donovan McNabb. They've just gotten Donovan completely out from under the bus.

And now Dallas is teetering while the vultures circle.

Yeats' opus includes a line about a blood-dimmed tide drowning the ceremony of innocence that I omitted since it seemed a little too dark for an NFL column. Even one about a team owned by the Prince of Darkness.

But some would say that's what Owens unleashed on SF and then Philly. And now he's slouching his way towards the middle of Texas.

Good luck, Dallas.

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