Return Game: Birds, 'Boys, and Bad Blood, presented by NovaCare Rehabilitation, is the sweeping story of the Eagles and Cowboys Rivalry. T.O. left the Eagles surrounded in controversy, and fuel is added to the rivalry fire when he's scooped up by the 'Boys. In 2006, he was coming back to Philly and fans had their popcorn ready as they watched to see what would happen next.
The 2008 season had many bumps along the way but heading into the final game, the Cowboys (and some specific results needed in a few other games that day) were all that stood in the way of the Birds making the playoffs. Would the stars align for the Eagles?
ROB ELLIS: Welcome Back to Return Game: Birds, 'Boys, and Bad Blood, presented by NovaCare Rehabilitation. I'm Rob Ellis.
DERRICK GUNN: And I'm Derrick Gunn. Let's get right back to it. We are now in the mid-2000s. It's 2005 and the Birds are coming off a Super Bowl defeat. Terrell Owens was wearing number 81 for the Philadelphia Eagles and playing with running back Brian Westbrook.
BRIAN WESTBROOK: 2005 came and things got ugly between the team, T.O., and Donovan (McNabb), and they just couldn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of different things.
ROB ELLIS: And Owens didn't just have trouble with the franchise quarterback. T.O. was unhappy with his contract, and he let everyone know about it. There were all kinds of reports and gossip about what really happened between the Eagles and T.O. Here's what Merrill Reese has to say on the subject.
MERRILL REESE: He wanted his contract renegotiated, which the Eagles weren't going to do after one year. And he got into it. He was suspended during Training Camp and the whole thing blew up. He had a press conference in his driveway and did pushups while the writers were asking him questions. And soon after that, he got into some altercation in the locker room, and shortly after that, Terrell Owens was cut from the team. And that ended the Terrell Owens era.
DERRICK GUNN: Like in any messy divorce, the players chose sides. Some supported McNabb and others picked T.O.
MERRILL REESE: In my 44 years of broadcasting the Eagles' games, I have never seen one player who so totally tore a locker room apart.
ROB ELLIS: That was the end of T.O. in Philly.
GET YOUR POPCORN READY
BRIAN WESTBROOK: Just imagine all that he brought to our team. Now, he's taking that talent, that inspiration, that leadership, that everything, that Hall of Fame credibility to another team that we're gonna have to play twice a year. It wasn't for me. It wasn't a good thing.
ROB ELLIS: Even after knowing all the challenges on and off the field with this wide receiver, Owens was snapped up after he was cut from the Eagles. And who snapped him up? It was none other than the Dallas Cowboys.
DERRICK GUNN: Kristi Scales says the welcome for the newest Cowboy was lukewarm at best.
KRISTI SCALES: It was Jerry Jones who wanted Terrell Owens. Bill Parcells, who was the Cowboys' head coach at the time, didn't want T.O. In fact, four months after T.O. joined the team, Bill Parcells didn't even utter his name to the media. He just referred to T.O. as the player.
DERRICK GUNN: T.O. had a rocky history with Dallas' fans. Was there any way this could end well?
KRISTI SCALES: Jerry Jones signed Terrell Owens to a three-year, $25 million contract. And so now Cowboys fans are supposed to cheer for the guy that they hated, and, even worse, he was actually really good. Terrell Owens, at his introductory press conference, said it's time to get your popcorn ready.
ROB ELLIS: It's safe to say feelings were mixed about T.O.'s departure to Dallas. Fans loved the numbers he was putting up. When he and McNabb were in sync, you could tell you were watching something special. But teams change, and in the NFL, you learn not to dwell on the "what could have been." Jeremiah Trotter and the Birds had a new season to get on with. So no T.O., but Donovan McNabb was still suiting up for the Eagles.
JEREMIAH TROTTER: Donovan's just a goofy, playful guy who loves to have fun. He's one of the greatest quarterbacks in Eagles history. We won a lot of games with Donovan, man. He was a very special talent. We felt very, very comfortable running out of the tunnel and seeing him come out of there with that number five jersey on.