118-mccoy_sports_billsstandaloneprod_affiliate502Let me begin our discussion by reminding you that the Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs in the new millennium and are going on 10 straight years without a post season appearance. This horrible statistic is second only to the Detroit Lions.

Bills fans, please keep these facts in the front of your mind as you proceed to read further.

Terrell Owens is now a Buffalo Bill.

The five time All-Pro wide receiver has signed a one year deal worth $6.5 million to don the red, white, and blue in Western New York. As a Bills fan, I couldn’t be happier. The signing of Owens, even for only one season, is a positive on so many levels that his main criticism of being a locker room cancer is almost irrelevant.

Here are some immediate reactions to negative opinions on the acquisition of Owens:

“Terrel Owens is a locker room cancer. He is going to tear the team apart!” To the people who think this way, let me remind you that the same thing was said about Randy Moss when he signed with the New England Patriots, and look how that turned out. Also realize that the Bills are no strangers to controversy in the locker room. Maybe controversy on a high school level when compared to T.O., but controversy nonetheless. Between the Willis McGahee drama, the Edwards/Losman conflict, and the outrage geared toward head coaches Dick Jauron, (and former coaches) Mike Mularkey, and Gregg Williams, the Bills have spent some time experiencing their own off field issues. Oops! I forgot to mention Marshawn Lynch’s hit and run and misdemeanor weapons possession charge over the last two years… If you’re among the fans who think T.O. is only going to ruin the Bills chances of success due to his personality issues, I ask you this: How have the Bills fared on the field all these years without T.O.? After nearly a decade of watching the Bills be monumental losers (especially after this season) Owens can open his notorious big mouth all he wants as along as he’s making plays and helping the Bills win games. Besides, if he does turn out to be the dreaded ‘cancer’ the majority of the world perceives him to be, he’s gone at the end of the season, no strings attached. I want a Championship in Buffalo, and T.O. helps the Bills get one step closer to that ultimate goal.

“This is an outrage! I refuse to buy a Bills ticket if Owens is on the team!” While you may not be the only fan who thinks this way, you’re probably in the minority. With the addition of Owens, the Bills have become a far more marketable team, and to be frank, won’t really need your ticket money. The Bills now have a serious (instead of hopeful) shot at getting multiple prime time games, and if that happens, ticket sales won’t be an issue. With the dying economy and the way last season ended, Bills owner Ralph Wilson had to do something to keep interest in the club in both Western New York and Toronto, Canada. The Bills first game in Toronto, was an unmitigated disaster. People had shelled out thousands of dollars to go to the game, and they weren’t even rewarded with a touchdown from the ‘home’ team. The Bills still have four more game dates with Toronto, and after last seasons embarrassing performance against the Dolphins, why would Canadians want to pay even $5 to see a crappy team try and play football? Terrell Owens now gives them a reason to come back. Besides, when was the last time a Bills jersey topped the sales charts? … anyone?

“Owens is only using the Bills as a springboard for opportunities to go elsewhere in 2010.” Assuming this becomes fact, who cares. Buffalo picked up QB Trent Edwards, RB Marshawn Lynch, LB Paul Posluszny, and WR James Hardy to be better later. T.O. makes the Bills better now. “I think Buffalo gave themselves a buzz [last season]. They were hot at the beginning of the season. They didn’t finish well. But with someone like myself, I can come in and add that extra piece and we can get over the hump,” said Owens, and I agree with him. If he wants to come to Buffalo and bring success to the team only to say next February, “See everyone! I can play for a bad club and make it elite. I’m available. Who wants to pay for me?”, so be it. If he left in 2010 after a successful 2009, Owens still has done a service to the Bills as other free agents will look on Buffalo as a team that can actually win. So even if he splits after a successful 2009-2010 campaign, he has still bolstered Buffalo’s reputation in the NFL. 

“We don’t need Owens. We’ve got Evans!” Since the departure of veteran WR Eric Moulds, Lee Evans hasn’t developed into the #1 WR Bills fans hoped he’d be. His average play can be faulted on both himself and the Buffalo coaching staff for not giving him enough looks to be effective. He’s also had trouble when being double covered, but with Owens on the opposite sideline, Lee can hopefully up his game. Last season Evans had 63 receptions for 1,017 yards and 3 TD’s, the fewest of his career. Owens caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 TD’s. With these two guys catching passes for the Bills, the club now has two of the top 15 players in yards per catch during the 2008 season. Evans was 10th and Owens was 15th. One could argue that Owens drops too many passes, as he’s led the league in that stat for the last two years. The counter point to this is that logically, the more balls you have thrown to you, the more you’re going to drop. The other league leaders in dropped passes are WR’s Braylon Edwards, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Bowe, all of whom have had solid performances in the last few seasons. With Evans and Owens as QB Trent Edwards’ top two targets, the Bills WR depth chart went from less than average to a threatening unit that deserves respect. Go-to man Josh Reed and the shifty speed demon Roscoe Parrish are ideal #3 and #4 wide receivers, and if things go well, Owens could serve as a valuable mentor to sophomore WR’s, Steve Johnson and (more importantly) James Hardy. Hardy failed to deliver on the high expectations that were placed on him after being drafted by Buffalo in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. He had a mere 87 yards and 2 TDs in the 14 games he played last season. If he’s up to it, Owens can help the sophomore get those stats up. With Hardy’s development taking longer than expected, the Bills needed another WR and Owens was easily the best one available on the market (he was on a list that featured Jabar Gaffney, Laveranues Coles, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Michael Clayton, and Hank Baskett). To put your mind at ease, Evans was both excited and surprised about the move, saying “It’s definitely a good feeling that they (the Bills) went out and got him.” 

“Terrel Owens isn’t a team player. His personality doesn’t fit with the system.” I agree with these statements. However, Dick Jauron’s ‘system’ has been less than mediocre as the Bills have gone 7-9 for three straight seasons. Owens’ personality may not fit the system, but lets face it, Buffalo’s system sucks. Owens is the spark the Bills need to be competitive and as mentioned above, he can help develop this young team into a squad of solid players. In addition to helping the Buffalo WR core, he’ll hopefully help the development of Trent Edwards as the young QB now has a handful of dependable targets with which to take shots down field. Edwards has proven that he has what it takes to be an elite quarterback in the NFL, provided he has a team around him and stays healthy. Said Edwards of Owens: “I am really excited about the addition of Terrell Owens to our team. We spoke earlier and both look forward to working hard this off season. We share the common goal of winning football games. His ability and experience will add to our offense and the weapons we already have.”Don’t forget that T.O. is second only to Jerry Rice with 951 career receptions and 139 TD’s. 

“What does the rest of the nation think?” Here are some poll results I found on espn.com and wgr550.com: 

What impact will Terrell Owens have on the Bills: 43% mostly positive, 36% mostly negative, 21% no significant impact (302,960 votes).

Do you think signing Owens was the right move for the Bills: 76% yes, 24% no.

Where will Terrell Owens be at the start of the 2010 season: 46% with the Bills, 46% with another NFL team, 8% out of the NFL (25, 354 votes).

How will the Bills fare in 2009: 49% borderline playoff team, 25% around .500, 22% legitimate AFC contender, 4% double-digit losses (17, 454 votes).

“The Bills won’t make the playoffs with T.O.” I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. Sure, T.O. never won a playoff game with Dallas, but he helped bring them to two, one of which was a home game (please recall the very first points I made in this article). One of those losses lies solely on the shoulders of Cowboy QB Tony Romo, as he flubbed the hold of a Dallas 19 yard field goal attempt down 1 point with just over a minute to play. Like all Bills fans, I want a post season appearance in this decade, and Terrell Owens can help the Bills get there. The last time Buffalo was in the playoffs, I was 15. I am now 24. Deservedly, the Bills are categorized as one of the leagues worst, alongside teams like the Lions, the Browns, the Raiders, and formerly the Arizona Cardinals. Owens gives the Bills the star power they need in today’s NFL: the Patriots have Tom Brady, the Colts have Peyton Manning, the Chargers have LaDainian Tomlinson, and now the Bills have Terrell Owens. Like T.O. said in his first press conference with the Buffalo media:

“I’m leaving America’s Team to come to North America’s Team. Get ready.”

Terrell, Bills fans have never been more ready for success, so get your popcorn out; welcome to Buffalo T.O.

Go Bills!


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