UPDATE: Looks like T.O., and the author of the piece below, may have their facts wrong, and if so, don't show T.O. the money!
I had only ever gotten one side of the T.O. story - the owners' side. The other side of the story is this:
To review: Owens broke his right leg and suffered severe ligament damage to his ankle in the team's third-to-last regular season game and, after undergoing surgery, was told by doctors he'd need at least two months to heal. The Eagles won a pair of playoff games without him to reach the Super Bowl, at which point T.O. pronounced himself fit to return more than a week-and-a-half ahead of schedule.
Sure, the Eagles said. Go ahead. As long as you sign this injury waiver indemnifying us in case you reinjure the ankle.
Again, to review: Owens hurt the ankle while playing football -- and very good football at that -- for the Philadelphia Eagles. His desire was to return to the football field to help the Eagles win the Super Bowl. And if Owens, in the midst of doing that, were to have suffered further injury to the leg?
Uh, sorry man, but you'll have to pay for that out of your own pocket.
Only in the NFL could a scenario this twisted even be broached. For perspective's sake, think back to Willis Reed's dramatic and inspirational limp through the Madison Square Garden tunnel and onto the floor for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Reed, who'd suffered a torn right thigh muscle in Game 5, scored just four points -- the game's first two baskets -- but his act of bravery was widely credited with inspiring the Knicks to a 113-99 victory.
Now imagine if this conversation had taken place as Reed was gingerly lacing up his low-tops while preparing to leave the locker room:
Knicks GM: "Hey, Big Guy, do you think you can go?"
Reed: "I can barely walk. But I'm gonna try."
Knicks GM: "That's great, Willis. You're a true warrior. Now, if you could just sign here."
Reed: "Sign what? What's that piece of paper?"
Knicks GM: "It's called an injury waiver. It means if anything happens to you out there tonight -- well, we know this orthopedist in Staten Island who offers really good discounts."
Reed (unlacing his shoes): "Uh, you know what? My leg hurts."
Yet Owens, bless his gambling heart, signed the waiver anyway -- and got away with it. He played, with a metal plate and two screws in his ankle, and played amazingly well, and he walked off the field without having reaggravated the injury. He caught nine passes for 122 yards and was arguably the Eagles' best player that day. His catch near the sideline with 3:42 remaining, which came after he planted on the tender ankle and lunged to snatch the ball a few inches from the ground, was one of the more memorable plays in recent Super Bowl history. Had some of Owens's teammates played a bit better -- in other words, as well as he did -- Philly's 24-21 defeat might have instead been a triumph.
And now you know ... the rest of the story.