Either you loved him or you hated him. There seemed to be no middle ground with Terrell “T.O.” Owens, once one of the premiere wide receivers in the NFL.
His well-documented fall from grace began after a brief but drama-filled stint with the Eagles, which included highly public verbal warfare with quarterback Donovan McNabb, and reportedly, a naked locker room fistfight with tackle Hugh Douglas.
Owens’ frustration appeared to deteriorate into desperation with the debut of the ill-advised reality show, “The T.O. Show.” Obviously troubled, Owens sits down with Iyanla Vanzant for the season premiere of “Iyanla, Fix My Life’’ on OWN.
“I’m here in Alexander City, Ala. because there is a man down on the field,” said Vanzant in this installment, as she drives into Owens’ hometown. “Like so many men in this city, in this state, in this country, he has lost his way.”
Series of setbacks
When she arrives, Owens puts on a happy face as he greets her. The six-time Pro Bowler who was once one of the most formidable offensive forces in football, Owens hasn’t played a regular season game since 2010 and is currently paying $45,000 a month in child support to four different “baby mamas.”
Getting straight to the point, Vanzant asks, “Why are you back here now?” According to the network, the spiritual life coach, who has survived her own series of setbacks, uncovers Owens’ pain from rarely seeing his mother and not knowing the identity of his father, and soon realizes that the circumstances of his life likely stem from his feelings of abandonment as a child.
“There were times on the outside looking in, people thought I was at my happiest or at my best,” said Owens, who was reduced to tears on several occasions. “But I was sad.
When I went home, I was sad. I was lonely.”
Dad wouldn’t appear
Through “emotional heart-to-heart sessions, we see Owens, the arrogant athlete who has incited and inflamed so many, dissolve into the wounded 11-year-old boy who discovered that the neighbor happily raising his family across the street was his own father, although no one ever bothered to share that bit of information with him.
It is immediately apparent that the relationship with his parents must be healed before he could move forward, including the relationship with his own four children.
Owens’ mother agreed to appear on camera while his father would not.
Then there is the question of his once-thriving career. “You’ve became a victim of your talent,” Vanzant observes, and poses the question, “What if your NFL career is over? What do you need to do to find value and meaning in your life from this point forward?”
Now 40 years old with little if any chance of ever returning to the NFL, Owens is now forced to face the rest of his life. “I’m in the real world now, and I’ve been exposed to what the real world is. You get to the point like, ‘Man, is it worth living for?”
“You maximized your talent and didn’t maximize your craft,” said Vanzant. Your first craft is being a man. While gridiron glory may be a thing of the past for Terrell Owens, Vanzant appeared to be setting him on the path to a productive and promising future.
Check the listings of the OWN network for a repeat airing of the episode.