T.O. taken up on his dare

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Tick, tick, tick ... and the T.O. time bomb explodes.

If there is a surprise that the Philadelphia Eagles suspended Terrell Owens yesterday it is only that the inevitable took this long to happen.

From the moment he criticized quarterback Donovan McNabb following the Super Bowl loss in February, Owens has been daring the Eagles to do this.

After sticking his tongue out one too many times, the childish T.O. gets his timeout.

He has demanded a new contract, ignored the Philadelphia media, snubbed his nose at coach Andy Reid and repeatedly issued verbal jabs at McNabb's talents.

This week, he took the intensity up a notch, accusing the organization of snubbing him when he caught his 100th career touchdown pass two weeks ago.

Finally -- and, we guess, reluctantly -- Reid, one of the more player-friendly coaches in the league, felt he had no choice.

Officially, Owens has been suspended indefinitely for "actions detrimental to the team."

According to the league CBA, that infraction allows the Eagles, should they choose, to avoid paying their superstar superjerk for a maximum of four weeks.

And make no mistake, Owens has been a jerk to just about all those around him this year.

Since the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, his only words to the Philadelphia media came Friday when he read a half-hearted, prepared statement apologizing for criticizing the team last week.

Then on Friday during his weekly appearance on a Miami radio station, the Pro Bowl receiver essentially dared the Eagles to sit him down.

"Hey, if I (am suspended) I am," Owens said on the show that has been the only source for his words of wisdom this season.

"That would be a discredit to the team and obviously it would hurt the team. It would be a sad situation."

More pathetic than sad, but that is Owens for you.

Even worse for his teammates, T.O.'s absence will hurt the Eagles, a team that can barely stand another blow. Already battered by injuries and inconsistency, a team that started the season as a Super Bowl favourite may be all out to merely make the playoffs.

The immediate intrigue will come on two fronts starting with tonight's pivotal NFC East road meeting with the Washington Redskins.

A loss would drop the Eagles to 4-4 and in danger of falling out of the race in one of the toughest divisional battles in the NFC.

The next question is whether terrible T.O. will show any remorse.

If the Eagles decide he isn't worth the hassle, the team could bench him the rest of the season, much like the Tampa Bay Bucs did with Keyshawn Johnson in 2003.

Owens has sat before, back in 2000 when then San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci benched him for a game.

Reid, who has tried to play down the distraction for the better part of two seasons, isn't done with the situation. Looking at a team void of offensive weapons, Eagles management must decide whether supreme talent trumps supreme jerk and if the team is better off without him.


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