2006-02-02

No TO in Team


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"What if Herm Edwards is the one coach who can keep TO in line?" That was the question someone posed as the prospect of TO landing in Kansas City was batted about.

It's become an annual mantra. Shanahan, or Edwards, or Parcells, or Gibbs or (insert name of quality coach here) can handle TO. Jake Plummer is a QB TO can respect. That was one of the best lines. No one respects Jake Plummer. Yet in a week where the Super Bowl teams are generally playing nice, the media is starved for a jabanero of a story. That's TO. So we're hearing which teams are a "good fit" for TO. Which coaches can "handle" him and which players he'll respect.

Here's the thing to remember as we wait to see who will drink the Kool-Aid: No coach can handle TO. No one. Especially not the good ones. And TO won't respect any team, especially not the good ones. Why? Because football is a team game and TO is not a team player. He's good enough that he can contribute to the success of a team at times, but when push comes to shove he's about TO.

The good coaches and the good teams understand this. Eventually they'll have to make a decision where the good of the team comes before the good of TO, and when they do ... it's on. Eventually some other receiver will be paid more than TO, and when that happens ... it's on. TO has no problem getting up in the head coach's grill. He has no problem throwing his teammates under the bus for the media's pleasure. He won't think twice about doing all the things that can't be part of a winning formula.

Yet someone will take the bait. They'll convince themselves that "it will be different here." Then, a year or two from now when the problems re-surface and the suckers are embroiled in trying to retrieve part of his signing bonus, or debating whether to sit him, trade him, or let him rot for the balance of a season, the media rhetoric will change. At the tail end of this cycle you'll hear the familiar strains of "What did you expect? He's TO."

Not here. I've said it in the good times and the bad with TO. He's not worth the trouble. Even when things are going good, how can you not constantly have in the back of your mind, "OK, what am I going to do when I lose my top receiver for some stupid reason?" TO is TO. It matters not where you put him.

ESPN surveyed the deep pockets. Jerry Johnson would be interested in taking a run at TO, but coach Bill Parcells wants no part of it. Dan Snyder might think about it, but coach Joe Gibbs isn't having it. These are the kind of coaches about whom you'd be tempted to say, "They can handle TO, he'll respect them." These coaches have won Super Bowls and have long resumes of success. They know better. While both need help, there is no room for TO on their teams.

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