Cowboys,Eagles struggles prove Owens no team cancer

We've got this condition that's been affecting portions of the NFL community for the past nine years. I think it's called Owenesia.

Now, I'm no doctor. But I do want to go over a few symptoms with you because, while the condition appears to be dormant, I want to make sure no one else catches this disease.

If your NFL team is struggling four seasons after you claimed a diva receiver destroyed team morale, you might have Owenesia.

If your NFL team is on the verge of firing the coach seven seasons after a former diva receiver dished out one season of mouth diarrhea, you might have Owenesia.

If your NFL team made its first playoff appearance nine seasons after its former diva receiver left the state, you might have Owenesia.

Unfortunately, Obamacare does not cover Owenesia. But there is a cure for these NFL teams; stronger leadership. That seemed to work wonders in San Francisco.

After following the Philadelphia Eagles' roller-coaster season and watching the Dallas Cowboys lose in sloppy style again Sunday night, I couldn't help but think about Terrell Owens.

He's been called a locker-room cancer, a team obliterator and, above all else, a huge reason for the stuggles of his prior teams, the San Francisco 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys.

It's a fact that Owens was an occassional pain in the butt for his former teams. But enough time has passed for us to correct our view of his place in NFL history.

He did not unilaterally kill his teams' morale. His teams had weak leadership.

Exhibit A: The Cowboys.

Jerry Jones released Owens after the 2008 season not long after reports surfaced about a conflict between Tony Romo and Owens. Owens, a Pro Bowl receiver, openly complained Romo was favoring tight end and best buddy Jason Witten on offense. Interesting enough, Owens wasn't the only receiver who expressed concern about the blossoming bromance between Romo and Witten. Owens, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton requested a private meeting with then-offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to discuss Romo, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Clarence Hill.

The solution? Ship out the problem child, build a billion-dollar playhouse and go win a Super Bowl! Yee-haw!

The result? One postseason appearance since 2008. Wade Phillips, who is now flourishing with the Houston Texans, was fired. Garrett, now the head coach, may soon be fired. And another diva receiver, Dez Bryant, might turn into a pumpkin if he stays out past midnight.

Darn that Owens!

Exhibit B: The Eagles.

What Owens did to Philadelphia was sickening. It was enough to make a guy vomit. And therein lies one of the cracks to the foundation to the doomed dynamic duo of Donovan McNabb and Owens. Did McNabb vomit during Super Bowl XXIX? Owens ripped McNabb's Super Bowl performance and the two failed to mend fences.

The team turned on Owens, then turned on McNabb. Let's flash-forward to today's phantom Eagles dynasty. Philadelphia has been self-imploding during the past two seasons and people are starting to turn against current startig quarterback Michael Vick and coach Andy Reid. Seeing a pattern here?

Exhibit C: The 49ers

Owens was an inexcusable annoyance, but the 49ers' problems extended far beyond an arrogant receiver. Since his controversial exit after the 2003 season, San Francisco recorded five consecutive losing seasons and four coaching changes before finally hitting its stride under Jim Harbaugh in 2011.

The 49ers dealt with another me-first player during the post Owens era in tight end Vernon Davis. Thankfully, no one gave up on him and he matured into a brilliant player and teammate.

Every team deals with problem children. Some teams just have better parents.

The continuing struggles in Dallas and Philadelphia reveal a much deeper management problem. However, the blame got unfairly shifted to Owens.

Owens wasn't perfect, but he wasn't the main problem. It's time for us to remember Owens in the historical terms he deserves because no one player has the power to destroy a good team.

sjowens@tribune.com

CHICAGO