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Exposing Pro Football Talk's Inaccurate Reporting of Terrell Owens Throughout the Years

June 9, 2013

Ryan Michael

After spending years fabricating headlines, personifying sensationalism and using another man's name to butter their bread, a recent cry of journalistic accuracy has created a need to set the record straight.

"Name one thing we have ever written about you that isn't true." -Pro Football Talk

PFT and anti-T.O. headlines go together like Seinfeld's Kramer and crack-pot ideas—no matter how far removed from reality, they're still going to keep coming up with more of them.


This rich tradition dates back many years but for the sake of condensing the nonsense into one article volume-wise, I'm only going to cover this past decade.

Flashback to 2010:
PFT was so quick to make a negative-headline based off of an "AP summaryof a clip of the T.Ocho Show—that after admitting they hadn't even watched the television episodethey had to update their article with a revision, stating an admission of inaccurate-reporting after the inevitable truth came to light.

"UPDATE:  In fairness to T.O., he says via Twitter that he placed blame not only on the owner and the coaches.  “i put blame on every1!! i said frm the top-down!!! spin it how u want, i’m used 2 it! u guys r jerks!”  The P.R. firm that sends us weekly previews of the show didn’t send this specific clip, so our item was based on an AP summary that focuses more narrowly on the blame placed on the owner and the coaches." -Pro Football Talk

As the years rolled on, so too did the tradition of Pro Football Talk relying on whatever source fed them an "anti-Owens" headline.

Using a singular quote made in passing by Clippers forward Blake Griffin, PFT spun a one-sentence remark into another  negative-headline with the word "begged" plastered front and center.

"Owens, who was last seen begging the Jets to give him a chance, also begged the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers to sign him, according to Clippers forward Blake Griffin." -Pro Football Talk

Keep in mind of course that PFT did not talk to Griffin or to any other members of the Los Angeles Clippers regarding this topic. It is true that Owens was welcomed to the team's practice facility, but a passing remark expressed in jest, told by a third-party source,  is all it took for PFT to derive a very literal and derogatory interpretation. 

Like if Peyton Manning told Tiger Woods that the PGA Tour should invite him to compete—he must be speaking literally.

Hey, maybe Tiger Woods begged Peyton Manning to have the injury-plagued Colts add him to the roster.


The difference between Manning and Owens is that one is a media darling and the other is a media target.

Owens is to Pro Football Talk what Michael Jackson was to the National Inquirer—a meal-ticket.

But there's more.


"According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Owens still appears to be the same T.O. who complains when things are not going his way, and that’s something Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will not tolerate." -Pro Football Talk

Naturally, PFT was quick to make a headline out of a report made by the Tacoma News Tribune.

They conveniently made no mention later on of Pete Carroll's comments, responding in detail to the false reports.

"Anybody that thinks he had an attitude around here or something like that got in the way is wrong, they don't know what they're talking about. This guy was great. He did everything we wanted him to do. He practiced hard, he studied hard, he asked questions, he worked hard in the games. He did everything. He was terrific. That had nothing to do with anything in this whole decision at all." -Pete Carroll.

And here we are in June of 2013 where the tradition is alive and well.

PFT recently knocked Owens who, in their sensationalistic opinion, "couldn't cut it in Seahawks camp last year."

"Realistically, there’s almost no chance that Owens will play in the NFL again. It’s been two and a half years (and one ACL tear) since he last played in a regular-season game, and he couldn’t cut it in Seahawks camp last year." -Pro Football Talk

As you would expect, PFT cited only a negative when referring to Owens' since surgically repaired ACL, while completely ignoring his current state of playing ability.

ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando reported his observations of Owens in training camp with the Seahawks last season.


"You never see guys this old hardly on an NFL roster playing receiver because they usually can't run. But with T.O. running a 4.45 on Monday and one of the clockings was even 4.43, he obviously can still run. So in practice today, the DBs are fired up. They've been looking forward to this, to go against a name and he was matched against Richard Sherman who is a very good young corner for the Seahawks, and played at near Pro Bowl level last season, and T.O. went out right away and caught a pass off of him." -Mike Sando

That's right: No mention of Owens' 40-yard dash time that was better at the age of 38 than it was when he came into the league as a 23 year-old rookie; all the while running that faster time on the same surgically repaired ACL that PFT was anxious to spotlight. 

No mention of his ability to make plays against arguably the best corner in the game today—Richard Sherman.

"Throw in the fact that he has a reputation as a headache in the locker room, and it’s hard to imagine why any team would want him around." -Pro Football Talk

Oh yes, the convenient reference to the negative "reputation" Owens is said to have—almost always based on quotes that never seem to originate from players in the actual locker rooms he's accused of tearing apart. 

Any chance PFT will make mention of the droves of Owens' actual teammates who have continuously dispelled the same "reputation" the media uses to crutch up their own self-crafted points of ridicule? 

Yet they have the nerve to call out Owens asking him to "Name one thing we have ever written about you that isn't true."

 

Pro Football Talk's proclamations of truthful reporting strike the heart as genuinely as Newman's love for vegetables.

 

At the end of the day, the situation here is transparent. 

PFT prides itself on sensationalism, negative-press and the adoption of poor references.

Nevertheless, times are changing.

The days of being able to make a buck off of Owens name by smearing it across the internet drenched with negative-innuendo, condescension and erroneous reporting will likely continue—that's the unfortunate reality of tabloid-journalism.


But for so long as the media continues to attack athletes for sensationalistic purposes, articles like this one will be written to poke holes in poorly-constructed headlines that refuse to show the entire picture.

Learn more at: www.terrellowensdefense.org 

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