** As an effort to continue to provide you with quality NFL content, Daniel Latzman will contribute to Thoughts From The Field going forward. He has an extensive background in sports journalism, writing and editing, and also is well-versed in internet marketing and cloud computing. Daniel is a Jets fan, so take it easy on him. **
The evolution of the passing game in the NFL has been well documented this past season, with three quarterbacks surpassing the formerly holy mark of 5,000 passing yards in a season. The motto of “defense wins championships” has gone from salient to archaic in the modern NFL, and the “Ground and Pound” philosophy of the past 20 years has proven fruitless in today’s league (sorry, Rex).
With so much of the current NFL landscape shifting it is easy to overlook some glaring (and unfortunate) developments that have become all too common in the league. I’m talking about the “T.O. Syndrome” that is running rampant in today’s NFL wide receivers.
Now there have been dozens of athletes in all the major sports who have suffered from this disease, but the NFL boasts some of the most talented malcontents the sports world has seen. And I blame Terrell Owens.
Owens finished his 15-year NFL career second in NFL history in career receiving yards, fourth in total career touchdowns (second in receiving touchdowns), and sixth in career receptions. Not too shabby for a guy that complained, bragged, and fought his way through a decade and a half of production with 5 different teams. Owens’ Wikipedia page’s “Controversy” section is bigger than his “Professional Career” section. For further clarity (and because I know you will find it funny), here are the headers below the “Controversy” section of the page:
- Controversy with Eagles (including his unrest with the team for not properly celebrating his 100th TD reception)
- Desperate Housewives Skit
- 2006 Hydrocodone Overdose
- Spitting Incident
- Bill Parcells Retirement
There is then a large part of the page that focuses on his famed touchdown celebrations in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and then Dallas. The man knew how to grab headlines, and for mostly the wrong reasons.
Owens’ career is a blueprint for self-centered and immature players to never grow up because they think their talent alone will lead to a long, prosperous, and productive career. In today’s NFL, this may no longer be true.
Randy Moss is cut from a similar thread as Owens, and he too is one of the most productive receivers in NFL history. He also is out of work too early and has abruptly ended what could have been the most productive offensive career in NFL history. The new age of bad seeds may not be as lucky. Players like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, DeSean Jackson, and Dez Bryant are supremely talented but have all clashed with teammates, coaches, the police, or basically anyone who stands in their way of doing what they want.
Braylon Edwards went from a true number one receiver with 1200+ yards a few years ago to a DWI-machine and journey man trying to find a permanent home. Santonio Holmes went from a Super Bowl MVP with 1200+ yards to a me-first captain who disrespects his franchise quarterback. DeSean Jackson went from the most electrifying player in the league to one who looks distracted and uninterested because he isn’t paid what he wants. Dez Bryant is as dynamic as they come at the WR position, but just this past summer he was arrested after he yelled at a cop because he was sagging his pants too low at a public mall.
It’s a slippery slope; some athletes can survive T.O Syndrome and enjoy long and fruitful careers. Others may find out that the team really does come first and you can record 1200+ yards and 13 touchdowns one year, and the next year you can be out of the league (Hello, Randy Moss). Luckily for Moss his damage had already been done.