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Monday, September 25, 2000

Terrell Owens' insult reveals how far star has fallen


By Kevin Sherrington
The Dallas Morning News
(KRT)

IRVING, Texas — Of all the low points since the Super Bowl days — handing Arizona its first playoff victory in 50 years, players quitting on Barry Switzer, Dave Campo's debut against Philadelphia — this was the lowest:

Terrell Owens standing on the star, arms raised, staring up through the hole in the roof.

Said Owens: “It was just a spur of the moment thing.”

Twice?

No one could remember anything quite as insulting. Not in Texas Stadium, not even in the Cotton Bowl.

Nothing in the long proud history of the Dallas Cowboys could match it for sheer embarrassment.

Unless it was this: The only way the Cowboys made Owens or the 49ers pay Sunday in an embarrassing, 41-24, loss was when it didn't count.

Emmitt Smith took up the Cowboys' honor the first time, bolting to midfield after a touchdown run and slamming the ball to the turf. He stood and stared for a moment at the San Francisco bench, and the message seemed to be delivered before 64,127 delirious fans.

Cowboys lose fire

The histrionics were similar to those employed by linebacker Darren Hambrick last week, when he started a ruckus with the Redskins that boiled over into an emotional Cowboys victory.

But Smith's emotional lift didn't last nearly as long. By the time Owens went back for another pose at center stage late in the game, the Cowboys were spent.

Still, it was hard for some to take. When it became clear Owens was off on another 50-yard sprint, George Teague was after him like a cop chasing a pickpocket.

Owens had just gone into his celebration when Teague blindsided him, leading to his ejection and now a fine from the league.
His teammates defended him, and they ought to take up a collection for him.

What could the rest of them be thinking?

“If we don't start defending our turf,” linebacker Joe Bowden said, a pained expression on his face, “everybody's gonna think they can come in here and go to the 50 and spike the ball.

“We've got some people who are gonna meet you at the star.”

Unfortunately, what the Cowboys need is someone who will meet opposing players at the line of scrimmage.

Otherwise, what Owens did to the Cowboys is just an ugly symbol of what every team will do to them this year.

Owens' teammates and coaches were appalled. His coach, Steve Mariucci, told him he should “act like he's been in the end zone before.” Jerry Rice, who also scored two touchdowns Sunday and did it without giving the Cowboys a big wedgie in the process, said it was “all about showing that you're a professional.”

Linebacker Ken Norton, drafted by the Cowboys and a star for them when they were great, which seems so long ago now, said there was “no call for it.” More than any of the 49ers, Norton knows what Owens' conduct meant here.

“Very proud organization,” he said. “Very proud community.”

It used to be, anyway. But, over the last five years, it has been easy to forget just how far the Cowboys have slipped.

Troy Aikman's still here, and he had his moments. But he looked skittish at times and, unlike Randall Cunningham, he couldn't make something out of nothing.

Most of the 49ers were extremely polite in light of Owens' actions. They said all the right things about the Cowboys. To a man, they called Aikman's performance a good one.

A couple even used the word “great” when talking about Aikman and the Dallas organization in general.
And then there was Terrell Owens.

Jeer's impact lost on Owens

Nothing personal, he said of his celebrations. He's just an emotional guy trying to get his team a little pumped up.

He was so surprised by the reaction, he didn't even understand why Teague came after him.

“I think he was a little emotional because I blocked him on the goal line play,” he said, “and he was trying to get me for that.”

How bad is it when someone pulls off the single greatest insult in the Cowboys' history, and he doesn't even get it?
Or can the Cowboys be insulted any more?

Owens, in his sixth year, conceded that it was the craziest thing he's ever done on a football field. He said he didn't have any particular plans for when he got to the star either time, although he said the second was a reply to Smith's display.
“I can't afford the fine, though,” he said, smiling, “so I can't take my helmet off.”

Would you do it again?

“Definitely,” he said.

The Cowboys swore vengeance. “The only way you stop that,” owner Jerry Jones said, “is to win the games and make the plays.”

By those standards, anyway, what's to stop anyone else from doing the same to the Cowboys? Maybe all you need to know was that, when Mariucci and Cowboys coach Dave Campo met at midfield after the game, the first thing they did was apologize to each other.

Sorry is the word that comes to mind, all right.

(c) 2000, The Dallas Morning News.
Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at http://www.dallasnews.com/
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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