The Buffalo Bills made a rare national headline on March 7 when, desperate for help for an annually lackluster offense, the team signed ultra-productive and highly enigmatic wide receiver Terrell Owens.
Since the ink dried on Owens' one-year, $6.5 million deal, the vast majority of opinion surrounding Owens and his arrival in Buffalo has been either highly positive or overwhelmingly negative. (Hence the term "polarizing" being such a snug fit for Owens and players like him.) Tom Curran, who writes for NBC Sports, is definitely in the latter category, calling the Bills' signing of Owens one of the ten worst moves made this entire off-season.
Curran's rationale? Well, it's not exactly ground-breaking, with terms such as "quarterback killer" and "me-first" making appearances (though we applaud "thumb-sucking" - it sounds so classy). You'll read that in essentially any article on Owens, and the content is so run-of-the-mill at this point that we'll just watch you nod and move on to the next paragraph.
This is really why Curran doesn't like the move - aside from his obvious dislike of Owens. (He did call him the "football devil," after all. Pacman Jones is probably wondering what all of his gun-in-a-nightclub excursions really earned him.)
But the Buffalo Bills - trying to avoid going 7-9 for a fourth straight season - know that no postseason likely means their time is up. So they made a deal with the football devil that's known as T.O. Aside from their self-respect, what else did they have to lose?
Wait, does that mean the Bills have larger quantities of self-respect than I originally believed? Being upbeat and confident is one thing, and going about the business in a professional manner is another. But we're talking about a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs in nine years, Mr. Curran. It's us and the Lions in that department. The Lions, Tom!
I can't imagine that a team as desperate to field a winner as the Bills are marching around One Bills Drive under the delusion that they're considered organizational models for the other 31 NFL franchises. The Bills are professionals, and as badly as the team has played over the past decade, the people in the organization - owner Ralph Wilson, VP Tom Modrak and head coach Dick Jauron most pertinently - are highly regarded in league circles. Is there really anyone outside of perhaps Mr. Curran who believes that each man's legacy - if, in fact, it can be called a "legacy" in some cases - will somehow be irreparably tarnished if Owens blows the locker room up in '09?
If self-respect is the breaking point between signing T.O. and not signing T.O., then the Bills absolutely made the right move - whatever Tom Curran believes. With T.O., they have a shot to surprise in the AFC East. Without, they're an afterthought. Owens gives the Bills a chance. That, Mr. Curran, is all that matters.
Where does Owens' signing rank?
You'll see a lot of big moves in any NFL off-season. Off the top of my head, only a few acquisitions rival the Bills' signing of Owens in terms of on-field impact; these are listed in no particular order, and rather haphazardly at that.
I think rookie RB Chris Wells is going to be an outstanding selection for Arizona if he can stay healthy. The ' trade for TE Tony Gonzalez was huge, particularly considering the youth of starting QB Matt Ryan. Jay Cutler going anywhere would have been huge, but he's a perfect fit for Chicago. I was impressed with the addition of QB Matt Cassel in Kansas City - I think he'll be excellent in Todd Haley's offense, given time. The put together the deepest defensive line in the league when they signed DE Chris Canty and DT Rocky Bernard. Much to the chagrin of some Bills fans, Jason Peters was an excellent acquisition for the . Don't sleep on WR Michael Crabtree in San Francisco. And, naturally, if QB Brett Favre ends up in Minnesota, that will be massively important as well.
So where does Owens rank? There's a poll. Have at it.