"Just because they weren't there doesn't mean they weren't interested. I can guarantee that all 32 teams were interested." -- Owens's agent Drew Rosenhaus after Owens's workout on Tuesday
Forget "all." If any of the 32 teams in the league are interested in Terrell Owens's services, they sure have a funny way of showing it.
On Tuesday afternoon, Owens, 37 years old and coming off surgery to repair a defective anterior cruciate ligament, conducted a workout in Calabasas, California, so that he could show 32 NFL teams that he was healthy and ready to be a viable option in their passing games.
There was only one problem. No NFL teams showed up for the workout.
Whether teams stayed away because they were genuinely uninterested or because they could actually watch the workout on television without having to answer questions from the media about why their teams might be interested in inflicting a 6-foot-3, 224-pound headache on their locker rooms, neither of those things is clear.
Yes, the Terrell Owens workout was televised, in its entirety, by both ESPN and the NFL Network, which, depending on how this story of the 2011 season ends for Owens, will either be remembered as a brilliant PR move by Owens's camp (read: Rosenhaus) or, more likely, as the next rung on which Owens clunks his head as he plummets downward into the hybrid world of spectacle and reality celebrity.
Rock bottom is not that far away.
In a metaphorical sense, it was actually appropriate that the only entities to show up to watch Owens work out were television networks, cameras and media. Despite otherworldly physical tools and a laudable competitive streak between the lines on Sundays, for some reason Owens has been far more interested in force-feeding us his personal on the sideline/in the press room/off the field circus than in letting his physical talent speak for itself.
In short, for a guy who played football hard and played football well, Owens seemed to think we all wanted a celebrity, not a football player. And Tuesday, the career arc of the pathetic Hollywood star continued on its downward trajectory.
If you think about it, at its functional core, Owens's biography is not all that different from any random television celebrity's -- a modest upbringing leads to a meteoric rise, and pretty soon celebrity becomes mishandled. Before you know it, you've burned a bunch of bridges and you're doing reality TV.
Somewhere between reality TV and rock bottom, the fallen star probably makes an infomercial pimping some random product that everyone "has to have" and in the back of his mind, despite the bullshit he's shoveling, the star knows the product is useless.
That was Tuesday, Terrell Owens in full-on infomercial mode, with his carnival barker pitch man (Rosenhaus) by his side, telling all 32 teams that they need themselves some T.O. The only thing missing was an 800 number and an offer for "TWO T.O.'s for the same price if you CALL NOW!!" About ten years ago, right in the halcyon phase of Owens's time with the 49ers, I was on a business trip in the Bahamas at the Atlantis. The trip happened to fall on the same weekend as Michael Jordan's celebrity golf tournament. All week long, various athletes and actors were frolicking around the casino and the lobby, fraternizing with fans, hotel employees and each other. Every celeb there was enjoying themselves, and they typically were in groups of four or five.
All except Owens.
As celebs were off in groups of four to 20 partying, at about two in the morning, I sat at a blackjack table with two other random guests and Terrell Owens playing cards. He had his hat pulled down low and didn't say much. He was nice enough, but for a guy who was so outspoken publicly, it was curious as to why he was by himself, so quiet, so reserved.
It wasn't an isolated instance, either. I saw him no fewer than three more times that weekend walking around the hotel by himself. Above all else, he seemed kind of like a lonely dude.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
A decade later, if this is how it ends for Terrell Owens as an NFL player, on a high school field in Southern California working out for exactly zero NFL teams, then it probably felt equally lonely for him. The middle-of-the-night infomercial in the middle of the day.
Next and last stop on the celebrity tumble for an actor would normally be porn. For a football player, it would be the Arena League.
And right on cue, the Chicago Rush reached out to T.O. yesterday.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays noon to 3 p.m., and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.