T.O. to STL? NO!

I was stunned to learn towards the end of last week that the Rams are apparently interested in signing Terrell Owens.  I was truly incredulous.

I am so hoping that in this age of Twitter-based, light-speed rumor mills, that this is a joke.  I’m not the only one.  Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch thinks the Rams are nuts.

I was surprised, however, to see both Mike Sando of ESPN and the much respected Peter King of Sports Illustrated write that it isn’t a terrible idea.  And the online, very unscientific vote at STLToday, showed local fans in favor of signing T.O. by 53% to 47% as of the morning of July 26.

The positive spin on signing T.O. is that a team can get a very talented wide receiver for lower than market prices.  As I see it, Owens is desperate to find a team willing to take him.  In theory, T.O. is a player looking for redemption, wanting to show a new team, the league, and the public that his team and the world know longer revolves around him.  It’s a often-told and often-seen tale in professional sports, but it rarely comes true.  Players that are difficult to work with tend to stay difficult to work with throughout their career.

The Rams Do Not Need the T.O. Distraction This Season

The downside with T.O., in my opinion, is much more significant.  T.O. will be a distraction for the Rams.  Even if he tries to stay out of the limelight, the local and national press will suck him back in.  Eventually he’ll say something he shouldn’t, and disarray will result.  The Rams, under second-year coach Steve Spagnuolo need peace and quiet at training camp.  The Rams need to take things slow and steady and build a nucleus around this years #1 pick Sam Bradford.  The Rams need to be Bradford’s team from the get go.  Owens presence at camp and on the field will simply not allow that to happen.

Even more so, it appears that T.O. is on the downside of his career.  He hasn’t been to the ProBowl since 2007, which is also the last year that he was among the statistical leaders at wide receiver.  Take a look at his career stats.  After three  years with more than 90 receptions with the 49ers, Owens has not exceeded 85 receptions in a year since 2003, and his number of receptions has declined every year since 2006.

In the age of free agency, smart owners and general managers have learned that championships are won by teams and not by individual players.  These same team executives have learned that you can rarely go from last place to first place in one year.  Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Washington Capitals, the Orlando Magic, and the Dallas Cowboys have had woeful seasons in which they retooled before advancing to the tops of their leagues, and, in the Cowboys’ and Hawks’ case, to the championship.

What does Billy Devaney, the Rams General Manager, gain by signing Terrell Owens?  Does he sell a few more tickets?  Does he attract a bit more national press?  Does he win a few more games?  Perhaps, but to me it doesn’t matter given the downside.

The 2010-2011 season for the Rams is about building for championships in future years, which means building a team.  I really don’t believe that # of wins is a top goal for the Rams this year. Their goals should center around educating and gaining experience for their young nucleus and building a cohesive unit in which the sum of the parts is greater than the individuals.

There is no way that T.O. fits into that plan.  Rams –  please stay away.