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TO Getting Brittle With Age?

Aug 5, 2006, 6:55 PM EDT

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Well, well. For the past couple of days, Terrell Owens, the man who some are saying will turn the Dallas Cowboys from a 9-7, out of the playoffs unit into one that will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next February, has been on the sidelines with a hamstring pull. While plenty of stars are sitting out with various ailments, many of which wouldn’t keep them out of a regular-season game, this one qualifies as news. No, not because ESPN and the NFL Network are constantly cutting to updates on how the stationary bike riding is going for Owens. It’s because of this, from the AP story on his continued absence from practice:

Owens had not had a hamstring problem before

That’s right, in his 10 previous years in the NFL, plus, presumably, his four years in college at Chattanooga, and before that in high school (where nobody gave him any respect, according to his book) and back to Pee-Wee football, he never has had a hamstring problem.

Hmm, let’s see here. According to his page on NFL.com, he was born on December 7, 1973. That means that he’s 32 now and will be 33 before the season ends. That’s older than most of the wide receivers out there. I think it’s safe to assume that his advancing age and the appearance of an injury that he had never suffered before are related.

Just a fluke, just a one-shot deal? Maybe, maybe not. It’s also safe to assume that he had been dragged down from behind many times before Roy Williams did it to him on December 18, 2004. That time, however, 11 days after TO turned 31, he suffered a broken leg.

Bad luck or getting a bit brittle with age? Or maybe a little bit of both?

To be sure, nobody works out harder to keep himself in better shape than TO does. But very few of the wide receivers whose productivity dipped after age 30 largely because of various ailments, both small and nagging and big and debilitating, were couch potatoes in the offseason. Regardless of how much one may work out, eventually the body breaks down to the point where it can no longer function at the level necessary for one to be an NFL player at the very highest level. Everyone is different in terms of how long it takes and how rapid the tumble is once the descent downhill begins. But everyone is the same in that it happens sooner or later, more quickly or more slowly. TO is no exception.

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