In my ongoing observation of talent and achievement, NFL Wide Receiver and off-the-field headline maker Terrell Owens (a.k.a. “TO” ) is a worthy case study. While he’s been among the most talented players at his position ever, he continues to find himself outcast and unemployed while somehow he always lands on his feet with a new multimillion dollar deal only to have yet another team discover what one bad apple can do the rest of the bunch.
From a team chemistry stand point, TO is a home wrecker. He’s severely disrupted his team’s locker rooms in San Francisco, Philadelphia and now Dallas. Each of these teams has learned that one bad apple can, in fact, spoil the whole barrel. But despite his track record for poor behavior and disruption, his athletic talent is so seductive to some optimistic, competitive management types at other teams. He somehow lands on his feet with yet another lucrative short term contract.
Here in Chicago, we watched the Bulls succeed in making a deal with the devil. They somehow survived the Dennis Rodman sideshow and won three more championships. But Michael Jordan succeeded with Rodman where Jeff Garcia, Donnovan McNabb and Tony Romo have failed with TO.
The Bull’s success with Sideshow Dennis was the exception to the rule. In the film Dumb and Dumber (yes, I watched it and I’m quoting it). Jim Carey’s character was told his chances were one in a million of capturing the heart of his beloved. His response: “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”
So now that TO has worn out his welcome with one of the more tolerant team owners in the league, we’ll find out who the the next team will be. With athletes as with business talent selection, we hire for skills and knowledge, but fire and promote for attitudes and habits. Will NFL owners ever learn? Now that we have tools to predict job related attitudes and habits, expensive mistakes can be avoided.
We’ll soon learn who will be the next NFL optimists who believe they can make it work with TO: “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”
This Just In…
TO has relocated his one man circus to Buffalo where the Bills will hope to get a decent return on their $6.5 million investment.
For more, you can read my TO thoughts and analysis from November of 2005. The Terrell Owens Saga