T.O. was a lightning rod before he ever donned a Cowboys uniform because of his brazen act of celebrating on the midfield star at Texas Stadium after scoring a touchdown against the Cowboys when he was still with his original team, the 49ers. Owens became public enemy number one in Big D after that.
When the enemy joined The Enemy—that is, when T.O. took his circus act to the hated Philadelphia Eagles—the bitterness of Cowboys fans grew to vitriolic hatred.
But then Jerry Jones signed the flamboyant wideout to a monster contract and for most (but not all) Cowboys fans, all was forgiven.
Calling Owens colorful is like calling the Pope a Catholic or the Hearst Castle a house. It is just a gross understatement. Owens took crazy on-and-off-field antics to a dizzying level during his three seasons in Dallas. It is hard to remember all of them, but here are a few classic moments:
- In 2006, Owens denies attempting suicide after police reports surface that he tried to take his life when he overdosed on prescription painkillers. Kim Etheridge, his publicist at the time, stated that T.O. had "25 million reasons" to live.
- A renowned critic of the QBs he played with, from Jeff Garcia to Donovan McNabb, after the Cowboys lost a crucial game to the New York Giants, Owens broke down and cried over the abuse Tony Romo was taking from reporters in the wake of the loss. "That's my teammate. That's my quarterback," bawled an overwrought T.O.
- "Getcha popcorn ready!" Remember that celebration?
- In 2006, Owens, who skipped 14 practice sessions in training camp, was famously seen riding a stationary bike on the sideline and hamming it up while his teammates worked out. Coach Bill Parcells was riled, to say the least.
The Tony Romo–Terrell Owens tandem was among the most prolific and dynamic quarterback/receiver connections in the NFL for three years, which helped lead to the confusion among fans. Did they love T.O.? Did they hate him? Did they embrace him? Was he a catalyst for team success? Was he a cancer?
Whatever he was, Terrell Owens was the most controversial player ever to don the Starred helmet. And one of the most colorful.