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by Mike Fisher    Sun, Nov 27, 2005, 11:19 PM


Ten years ago, I engaged in an on-radio debate with old friend/political genius Kevin McCarthy about the future of murderer. ... I mean, accused murderer. ... OJ Simpson. My argument: That American society is so forgiving that someday, The Juice would be so re-accepted that he'd sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom.

I knew I was taking a risk. McCarthy, the Texas talk-show legend, had spent countless hours in front of the tube, taking notes and evolving into a certified member of The Simpsonian Instutution.

Me? I watch a lot of football, never finish higher than fourth when watching "Jeopardy,'' and probably didn't catch a total of 17 minutes observing The Trial Of The Century. (Making a Heisman Trophy winner's double-murder bigger, I guess, than The Nuremberg Trial, but like I say, I'm rarely sharp enough to even remember to phrase each answer in the form of a question.)

And now here are we and murderer. ... I mean, accused murderer. ... OJ Simpson. And it's 10 years later. And OK, I stretched it a little bit; Simpson isn't welcome at The White House, and is barely allowed to pitch-and-putt at the municipal golf courses of Florida.

But my theory was, in-theory, sound: In this society, we hand out second chances like they're. ... well, like they're first chances.

Which brings me to why Terrell Owens will be a Dallas Cowboy in 2006.

Forget for a moment whether you like the idea or not; there will be all next season to engage in that painful and embarrassing exercise. We will acknowledge here that "Cowboys'' and "flashy wide receivers'' haven't been a good mix of terms in recent years. I give you Exhibit A, trading two No. 1 picks for Joey Galloway; Exhibit B, my friend Michael Irvin possibly muddying up his ESPN career and his Hall-of-Fame candidacy with a Friday drive through North Texas with, say the coppers, "drug paraphernalia'' riding shotgun; and Exhibit C, the Eagles' whiny weekend accusation of "tampering'' directed at Dallas (which, come to think of it, now serves as further confirmation of my above declaration).

Let's focus for now on how in sports and elsewhere in America, zeroes become heroes and Gomers hit homers and pariahs become Pro Bowlers.

Right, Martha Stewart?

On the day after the Eagles recently bid farewell to their infamously troubled star, a Fox Sports scribe predicted that "nobody'' would ever sign him. Two days later, ESPN's John Clayton opined that "only three teams'' would end up being interested in TO.

Here we are some time, and a little research -- later. Visions of TO catching (passes) have overcome visions of TO throwing (tantrums). And I can almost definitively say that next year, The Poster Child For Everything That Is Wrong With Sports will actually be on a poster, wearing silver and blue, and hanging on your teenage daughter's bedroom wall.

(I have sons. Tough luck for you.)

How do I come to this conclusion?

Because Bill Parcells said to, that's why.

Now, I don't have a pipeline to InfalliBill, the bullying head coach of the Cowboys. As a member of the D/FW media, and as someone who didn't cover Parcells in his New York heyday, I am not worthy of a pipeline.

But I know who is. I know who does. And I have a pipeline to them.

We can use a process of elimination to narrow the field of potential entrants in the TO sweepstakes. Let's start with the "Hell No's!''


The Eagles: The bridge hasn't just been burned, it's been nuked.

The 49ers: You don't re-marry your ex-wife. (Or maybe you did. How'd that working out for you, Booby?)

The Ravens: Often forgotten is that Baltimore was the team that acquired TO before Philly -- and then saw the deal fold when TO spit in its face.

The Bengals: They are notoriously cheap. They already must deal with the contract demands of another flashy WR, Chad Johnson. He's represented by human oil slick Drew Rosenhaus, who happens to be TO's agent, too. They place in the city that shuts down art exhibits that show too much skin. No.

The Patriots: They acquired bad-boy Corey Dillon, but such moves remain out of character for the NFL's supposed "character team.''

The Browns: They need weapons, but new coach Romeo Crennel is from the Patriots school.

The Texans: Owner Bob McNair is quoted as saying, He's almost dismantled the Eagles. Why would you wish that upon us?'' That ain't an endorsement.

The Giants: Players are already on the verge of revolt regarding coach Tom Couhglin's militaristic ways. TO's no TC soldier.

The Chargers: TO and LT in the same offense? Not if coach Marty Schottenheimer has anything to say about it.

The Rams: Offensive weaponry isn't their problem.

The Lions: Already overloaded with weirdness at wide receiver. Oh yeah, and Steve Mariucci was Owens' coach when the nut dumped on SF. No.

The Saints: A sad-sack franchise in a dead town with an owner as demented as Owens. No thanks to all parties.

The Cardinals: Also loaded at receiver. Coach Denny Green will talk himself out of this idea.

The Colts: Also loaded at receiver. Coach Tony Dungy's setup is Zen-like. No.

The Titans: Unless you beleive Owens is going to sign on the cheap, Tennessee can't afford him.

The Steelers: If they wanted something like this, they would've re-upped Plaxico Burress.

The Bucs: If they wanted something like this, they would've stuck with Keyshawn Johnson.

The Bears: They did want something like this. So they signed Muhsin Muhammed.

The Panthers: Terrell Owens hanging out on Billy Graham Parkway? Delicious.

That's 19 of the 32 teams out. Leaves 13 teams. Let's move to. ...


The Packers: A franchise hanging in the balance awaiting Brett Favre's next move. Does Brett want to stay? Does he want TO? Does he just want another shipment of Vicodin and Bud Light? TO would hate the town of Green Bay even worse than the town of Green Bay would eventually hate him.

The Bills: Buffalo is Green Bay, with hotter wings.

The Vikings: Already troubled by the Randy Moss Era, followed by this year's Love Boat Scandal, and now facing a battle to get the good people of Minnesota to vote for a new stadium, new owner Zygi Wilf can't want more chaos. ... or does Terrell Owens actually help sell tickets?

The Chiefs: A football-mad town and an explosive offense that's always lacked one component: A Pro Bowl wide receiver.

The Jaguars: Do they believe they've assembled their WRs of the future in Matt Jones and Co.?

The Jets: Big-mouth receivers in New York get to write books, chat with Regis Philbin and ogle Kelly Ripa.

The Seahawks: Mike Holmgren could get huge numbers out of Owens. And Owens, contractually, could get huge numbers out of billionaire geek Paul Allen.

That's seven more. Leaving six as. ...


The Redskins: Because to owner Daniel Snyder, no doesn't mean no. No means, how much?

The Raiders: Al Davis' Home For Wayward Boys is a logical guess, but even Randy Moss says his "baggage'' combined with Owens' would be too much for the bellboys of Oakland.

The Falcons: The owner offers a thumbs-down. The quarterback offers a thumbs-down. The offensive coordinator offers a thumbs-down. But TO is a Dirty South guy.

The Dolphins: There is a fit. There is a need. There is Ricky Williams available to make Owens appear sane.

The Broncos: The Mastermind, Mike Shanahan, has Classic Coach Syndrome: He believes he can take chicken spit and make chicken quesadilla (which reminds me, this column is getting long and I'm getting hungry!)

The Cowboys: And here we go, to the pipeline.

There is Jerry Jones' history of making a personnel splash. There is Jones recently commenting very carefully, too carefully, about TO -- and then openly admitting he fears tampering charges. There is Jones' uniquely American willingness to embrace supposed scallywags.

But mostly, there is this:

After InfalliBill conducts his daily press briefing with the lowly local media, during which he says virtually nothing in his condescending manner, do you know what he does? He retires to his office to make and return phone calls. Do you know which two reporters' phone calls usually get answered? Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

Do you know Peter and Chris? I do; I came up in the business right after them, was sometimes mentored by them, have beem friendly with them, and respect them greatly.

In the days following Owens' dismissal from Philly, the rank-and-file from the media guessed about his future. Some guessed Dallas only because of the aforementioned Jones habits, or because of the glitz of the Cowboys, or maybe because of Parcells' willingness to work with controversial figures like Keyshawn Johnson and Lawrence Taylor.

But not Peter King. And not Chris Mortensen. In addition to being America's two more powerful, influencial and recognizable NFL writers, they are "Parcells Guys.'' Not at the same level of the fraternity as assistant coaches and players, but in the club nevertheless. King was a beat writer in New York when Parcells came of NFL age there; Mortensen actually played a role in brokering the meeting between Jones and Parcells that would lead to his hire in Dallas.

No, Peter and Chris didn't guess at Owens' future. And it wasn't coincidence that they arrived at the same TO-to-Dallas-in-2006 conclusion at almost exactly the same time. (For the record, King went full-bore Cowboys in his prediction, Mort suggesting Dallas would join Denver as a finalist).

They didn't guess at all, really. You don't have to "guess'' when you are given a positive clue from Bill Parcells himself. They delivered the clue to their audiences at the same time likely because they "heard'' Parcells wink into the phone on the same afternoon.

Skeptical? Fine. Don't put it in ink. But do grab a pencil.

Because if it's about a Bill Parcells thought, and Peter King and Chris Mortensen write it, you can write it.

Hey, when it comes to superstar football jackasses, from OJ to TO, I'm never wrong about these things. Except maybe every 10 years or so.

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