Like our apologies, our popcorn is ready.

The Devil Gets His Due. Or, Terrell Owens Gets Paid.

Terrell Owens, gulp, team leader?

Despite his flabbergasting drops and simmering potential for volatile locker-room destruction, T.O. has proven he deserves his new four-year, $34 million contract. And you know what else? He deserves our apologies.

I’ll start with mine.

Back in March 2006, I wrote that it was a nauseating and nincompoop move signing Owens. During training camp ’06 I said it was just a matter of time until he blew up and, possibly, blew up the team. About a month later I was proven right when he had the accidental overdose, followed by sleeping in team meetings, verbal jousts with receivers coach Todd Haley, etc.

But then something happened. Bill Parcells left town, the new coach learned Terrell’s name and – presto! – Kum Ba Yah, m’Lord.

This contract proceeding was the latest, greatest(?) sign that Terrell’s maturity is slowly but surely taking the personality reigns from T.O.'s mischievousness. Most of his infamous incidents have been about getting the ball and/or money. In Dallas, he’s receiving both.

It’s still difficult for a lot of us to consider T.O. as “ours”, but we long ago diluted our memories of him desecrating Texas Stadium’s star enough to cheer our asses off for him. And no doubt he’s re-established himself as one of the NFL’s elite receivers the last two years. Yes, he’s among the league leaders in drops, but he’s also caught 166 balls for an NFL-best 28 touchdowns.

His reward? Instead of $7 million this year, he’ll rake in almost $14 million. No wonder he’s been so choir boyish this off-season.

T.O. is still 34 going on 19. Still inconsistent. Still loves him some him. But, bottom line, he’s been better than I ever imagined – on and off the field. – Richie Whitt

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