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Owens outdoes Keyshawn

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
Published November 13, 2005

Cowboys receiver Keyshawn Johnson wants no part of the Terrell Owens debate. Anyone seeking his opinion last week found the answer in the form of three words taped to his locker in the Cowboys dressing room.

"Not my problem."

Maybe not.

But it might be his legacy.

Though Johnson is weary of the comparisons, it appears he forever will be linked to T.O.'s Big Top, thanks to a new entry in the NFL lexicon. Now, in addition to getting "Jacked Up" you can get "Keyshawned."

Neither is a good thing.

By choosing to suspend Owens for the maximum four games and deactivate him for any remaining games, the Eagles, in essence, will pay Owens not to come to work. Two years ago, the Bucs took a similar course of action with Johnson, who was deactivated for the final six games of 2003 when his bitter relationship with coach Jon Gruden reached an impasse.

In expressing his displeasure with Gruden, Johnson also committed insubordination. He wore improper attire to team walk-throughs. He missed meetings. He put his Tampa home up for sale. He skipped the charter flight home from San Francisco without telling anyone.

In retrospect, Johnson went too far.

But turning him into a verb? That seems extreme.

Johnson did not demand more money after helping the Bucs win the Super Bowl. He didn't tell assistant coaches not to speak to him. He didn't exercise in his driveway. He didn't go WWE in the weight room. He didn't criticize quarterback Brad Johnson on ESPN.

His deactivation came without warning, without suspension. Of course, Johnson didn't apologize, but neither did the NFL Players' Association, understanding the value of every game in a player's career, come to Johnson's aid by asking the Bucs to take him back or release him.

It's tough being the original.

Certainly, Johnson wasn't a saint. He was unhappy playing for Gruden and went out of his way to make sure everyone at One Buc Place knew it. Was he a detriment to the team? Well, the Bucs were 4-6 with him, 3-3 without him. And, safe to say, he did not spread sunshine.

But "Keyshawned?"

Truthfully, Johnson doesn't deserve such an honor. In every respect, Owens out-Keyshawned Keyshawn. So, the next time a talented football player gets sent home with pay, it should be said he got "T.O.-ed."

It has a nice ring.

And, really, Owens earned it.

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