Cowboys T.O. & Irvin & ‘powdered donuts’: Odd sort of leadership

“Terrell Owens is a leader.”

I know, I know. It seems as though I am making an outrageous statement here. But let’s examine the purest definition of “leader”; it has nothing to do with “good vs. evil” or with “ heroism” or even with “positivity.”

“If you lose 100 lbs by August 4th then I’ll attend,” wrote Owens in a recent tweet responding to rotund FS1 provocateur Jason Whitlock’s criticism of the former NFL star’s decision to not attend his own Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer. “I only want 2 donuts. You can have the rest. Bring ur boy Michael Irvin, too. I got some “powdered” donuts for him. U 2 Uncle Tommers!”

All it really takes to qualify as a “leader” is to have powers. Owens is powerful, charismatic and newsworthy. Owens, who played for the Dallas Cowboys during his NFL tour and remains a DFW resident, was always terms a “divisive” figure. It remains that way for Hall-of-Fame voters. And again, by definition, A person who is “divisive” means there are people on both sides of the divide. …

Including, in this case, people who support Owens and people like Irvin who are confounded by his decision and behavior. When I first spoke to Irvin, like Owens a former Cowboys star and Hall-of-Famer, he made it very clear to me that his position has long been that he’s tried to serve as a mentor, friend and “big brother” to T.O.

“T.O. and I have been friends,” Irvin told me. “It’s a Cowboys family and it’s a football family. We can be here to lift each other up.”

It seems, though, that Owens was bothered by Irvin going on NFL Network and discussing the contents of a text exchange between the two men regarding Owens’ HOF decision. Irvin considered the exchange an “interview” of sorts, Owens apparently considering it “private.” My position? As justified as T.O. might’ve felt, as hurt as he might’ve been, calling someone an “Uncle Tom” is below the belt.

I don’t think Irvin is offended by the “powder” reference; that’s part of his history. But “Uncle Tom”?

“Fish,” Irvin guffawed, “I’m as black as they come!”

Owens’ decision to snub the Hall may be about finances; Owens has been open about his struggles in that area. Or his feelings may be due to him believing that the Hall has somehow disrespected him. And indeed, with at least two voters announcing they wish they could demand a recount, desiring to take their ball and go home because Owens’ lack of gratitude offends them, the disrespect continues. (Hall rules preclude voters from letting personal feelings and even personal behaviors interfere with the process, and therefore Hall voters are essentially living a lie.)

But if one is trying to get attention for oneself, and he chooses to make fun of a reporter‘s obesity, make fun of a football fraternity brother’s cocaine use and label a pair of high-profile African-Americans “Uncle Toms”? Mission accomplished. The 1.5 million people who follow T.O. on Twitter are at attention. So are the networks that Irvin (NFL Network) and Whitlock (FS1) work for. Attention gathered. 

(Photo: 247Sports)

By the time another Hall-of-Fame receiver, Randy Moss (representing yet another network, FOX) chimed in on Twitter by telling Owens, “You’re a joke,” it became clear to me that Whitlock doesn’t really deserve a seat at the table. He is neither a Hall-of-Fame member or a Hall-of-Fame voter; his goal was to garner his own attention by stirring the pot, and his interest has been served.

But Terrell Owens, Michael Irvin and Randy Moss all involved in a Canton family feud? This story is a couple of weeks old, yet the public is, I think, reserving seats for Jerry Rice and Cris Carter to chime in. This is, as it so often is with T.O., yet another “Getcha-Popcorn-Ready” moment. … and Owens is “leading” the way.

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