Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"T.O." in "Team"?
I was at the gym late yesterday afternoon and looked up at the TV monitor to see the show with the two blowhards from the Washington Post on ESPN. They spent a long chunk of time talking about the Eagles and the drama around refusenik wideout Terrell Owens. Rich Hoffman, a Philadelphia Daily News columnist who's one of the city's better sports scribblers, had one incredible line that almost knocked me off the elliptical machine: "In Philadelphia, we're not good at championships, but we're great at circuses." He predicted that Owens would get more cheers than boos in the first open-to-the-public practice to be held this morning.

Apparently he was right--and T.O. played it like a champ.

[M]any fans booed the disgruntled All-Pro receiver and some taunted Owens during Wednesday morning's practice at Lehigh University.

But it took just a simple smile and a little interaction for Owens to win them over again.

"This ain't San Francisco," one fan yelled as Owens knelt along the sidelines, listening to the derisive jeers. "You ain't bigger than this team. Shut up and play."

They took their best shots, and scolded Owens for hiring agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Finally, Owens stood up, turned to the crowd, cracked a smile and pumped his left arm up, urging them to make more noise.

The fans suddenly erupted in cheers and the same guy who was riding Owens the loudest started chanting the "T.O." song. Owens flashed a wider grin, nodded his head in approval and walked back toward the field.

It was the first time this summer fans could see Owens practice, and some of the Philly die-hards started lining up at 4 a.m. just to get a glimpse of him running patterns with the NFC champions.

If his play is as good as his showmanship--and it always has been--T.O. should be just fine.

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