Just in case you're wondering what to make of the T.O. mess, here are a few opinions from Florida:
I have never believed Terrell Owens.
Not when he was spinning his version of a spat with Donovan McNabb, and not when he claimed his numerous contract disputes weren't about money. Not when he claimed his statistics were unimportant to him, and not when he tried to back away from his own words in his recently published book.
Owens seems to live in a reality that bears little resemblance to yours or mine. One without accountability or mirrors. A world where he is free to criticize anyone and no one is allowed to question him.
No, I have never believed Terrell Owens.
And so, today, I pray that I am wrong.
For Owens is claiming he did not attempt suicide Tuesday night. He is saying it is all a big misunderstanding, that there is an explanation for an empty pill bottle and the appearance of a drug overdose. That everyone was confused and even he doesn't remember much of the evening.
* * *
He is fabulously wealthy. He is admired by many. He possesses numerous qualities that are dearly valued. And yet this morning you can not help but feel sorry for him, for he has self-image problems that may prove terribly destructive.
I have never cared much for Owens because I've seen him as the caricature that his image portrayed. And, for that, I am ashamed. There is much more to Owens than public spats and ridiculous publicity stunts. Much that made him who he is today. And much that he desperately needs to address.
Terrell Owens has never wanted to accept responsibility for anything in his life.
And now, he is seemingly using the same approach when it nearly came to his death.
Do you want Terrell Owens on your football team?
Of all the questions coming out of T.O.'s latest frantic circling of the television trucks, this is the only one that comes with clear answers.
So which one do you favor?
Show me a surefire touchdown machine and I don't care how many noxious fumes come belching out from its various hot-air vents, or how thick with smoke and blinding confusion the locker room becomes as a result.
Show me a walking, talking nuisance machine and I will lock the gates of the training facility, with security guards posted throughout, before the infernal thing walks and talks its way into the midst of a team we are patiently building here, and building, admittedly, with lesser parts.
The Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers strongly support the second response, and so does the old grump at this keyboard.
* * *
The guy makes everyone look stupid, sooner or later. Stupid for chasing him and agent Drew Rosenhaus around with sacks of money. Stupid for building a game plan around him. Stupid for trusting him.
Now, as the wave of e-mails begins to crash at my feet, alleging a lack of compassion, an abundance of jealousy, a touch of bigotry, all the usual stuff, I ask you again.
Do you want Terrell Owens on your football team?
It's a balance between touchdowns and trauma. Most NFL general managers and coaches, dependent on winning above all else, would take him even now if the price were right.
Taking on this much baggage is a losing proposition, however, and the look on Parcells' face Wednesday said he's sorry the Cowboys ever did.
We feed his ego, and his ego feeds us. Our appetites are equally insatiable. The dysfunctional marriage between Terrell Owens and the media is a fuse always waiting to be lit. Doesn't take much for a mere spark to hiss toward an inevitable explosion of debate, noise, shouting, programming, ratings. All it took Wednesday were a few pills. That, and the resultant confusion, media-mushroom-clouded into a seismic blast felt throughout a vibrating Sports America.
Vanity. Glory. Narcissism. Pride. Greed. Controversy. Excellence. They're all in this one athlete, everything you love and hate about sports, bursting to get out of a body that looks like God Himself carved it in an advanced sculpting class. That's what makes Owens the most famous person in America's most popular sport and our country's most polarizing athlete -- a cocktail of ingredients that, not unlike his allegedly bad medicine, makes us feel light-headed, euphoric, manic, irrational and dizzy.
* * *
This will get me called an apologist. But I'm not apologizing. I'm not condoning. I'm merely not condemning. I'm not excusing. I'm explaining. I don't know T.O. well enough to like him or not like him. I just don't hate him. I don't view him as a symbol for all that is wrong with today's sports as much as I do a cartoon character exaggerating everything that is about today's sports. I try not to get indignant about the behavior of athlete/entertainers at the arena in much the same way I try not to get outraged by clowns at the circus.
But I do marvel at the incessant storm that swirls around him, one either created by him and fed by us or created by us and fed by him. Either way, what seemed like a simple accident/allergy morphed Wednesday into a frenzy of spinning national headlines like the ones you used to see in the black-and-white movies. It doesn't appear he did anything wrong this time. Can the rest of us say the same?
So . . . what's my take on the situation, you may (or may not) be wondering? Because of my dislike for T.O., I tend to roll with the first two columns presented in this post. After reading Le Batard's column, I felt compelled to send him a few queries. That was earlier this morning and I completed a blog post in response to his reply but somehow the post was eaten by some cyber-shark at Typepad. Thus, this entire post is a fairly similar re-creation of that earlier post. My questions to Le Batard were:
Dan, my bias against T.O. isn't really germane (I don't think) to these questions, so (for better or worse) here goes the "lemme ask you sumpin" line-up:
 If T.O. was simply disoriented, why couldn't Ms. Etheridge put him in a vehicle and take him to Valley Ranch or a local hospital for observation and tests -- wouldn't a publicist who is not dealing with an emergency understand that?
 Are you really putting forward the proposition that the EMT's who rushed to the scene in response to the 9-11 call failed to properly assess the situation? That somehow T.O. was forced to go to the emergency room against the better judgment of his publicist AND the EMT's?
 Did you observe his publicist at the press conference yesterday? Did she look like a woman who was on her game or did she look like a woman who had been bitched at all night and day? By her bi-polar or manic client? And if she's also more than a publicist to him, can you imagine the hell he put her through yesterday? Given the hell she put him through?
 I'm of the opinion that this was an accident (allergic reaction or whatever) but it was escalated into a crisis because this woman, Kim Etheridge, has intimate knowledge of quite odd behavior by T.O. in the past, in her presence, and her likely conclusion Tuesday evening that she was dealing with a suicide attempt was quite plausible, given what she knows and had observed. Isn't that more than simply possible, but probable?
In short, this is about Terrell Owens in toto and not about an overreaction on the part of the publicist or the public or even sports media. One has to wonder, precisely what do you make of the reports that both the 49ers and the Eagles asked for T.O. to have psychological evaluations? The dude is off, Dan, in some very curious ways.
I could be quite wrong in what I'm about to speculate vis-a-vis Le Batard, but it appears to me that he is working rather hard to *NOT* see the elephant in the room (namely, relevant inquiry into T.O.'s individual mental stability) while simultaneously working rather hard to see another elephant that *MAY* be in the room (namely, America's marriage of the Culture of Celebrity with our Sports Gladiators). Le Batard has charitably responded to my questions, after quite rightly zinging me for trying to assert that my anti-T.O. bias wasn't germane to the questions I posed. Still, I think my questions were good and relevant and given that belief, readers may not be surprised that I think Romano's column may be the most on-point opinion among the three -- but all three were good and interesting.