Mind Over Sports

T.O. and The Dallas Cowboys’ Bill Parcels

Posted on: September 15, 2006

terrell_owensI am not condoning Terrell Owens’ past behavior, but I do believe much of the blame needs to be placed precisely where it belongs: On the coaches who, all during T.O.’s career, have looked the other way and not disciplined him. The coaches who wanted to keep him on their teams in order to increase their chances of winning.

But as is so often the case, the opposite is true. When an athlete becomes disruptive to team chemistry, as T.O. was when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles organization and publicly stated that during the Super Bowl quarterback “Donavan McNabb ran out of gas in the fourth quarter,” and was one of the reasons why the team lost, he should have been cut loose immediately. I recall having read a column by some newspaper pundit who wrote that “T.O. ruined the Eagles’ season.” Excuse me? What he should have written was that “the Eagles allowed T.O. to ruin their season.”

It’s much like the parent who is a bad disciplinarian, and the children are allowed to run wild. In sports, superstars such as T.O. are often two-edged swords. They may be successful as athletes and contribute during competition, but this is done at the expense of disrupting team chemistry.

Which brings me to T.O. and the Dallas Cowboys. If Bill Parcels treats T.O. the way he treated Lawrence Taylor when Taylor was playing for him when he was head coach of the New York Giants, the team is going to be in for a long season. As we now know, Parcels looked the other way and allowed Taylor to continue to use illegal drugs and cheat on his urine tests, and to constantly violate team curfew hours, all in the name of winning. Parcels did not do Taylor any favors since he later tearfully admitted on national television (60 Minutes) that he was an addict. When this happened, it didn’t sit well with his “brothers” who were playing for Parcels during his first year as head coach of the Cowboys. And it was no coincidence that the Cowboys lost two out of their next three games and were eliminated from the playoffs.

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