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News » T.O. unlikely to defy age-old rule for WRs

T.O. unlikely to defy age-old rule for WRs

T.O. unlikely to defy age-old rule for WRs
Terrell Owens will be back in the NFL in 2009, maybe with a contract as large as the one the Cowboys took away from him this week, when they banished him from Valley Ranch.

That's because the new breed of NFL owners is infatuated more with a player's name than his ability. Terrell Owens still has a marquee name, but he no longer has marquee ability.

Owens did score 10 touchdowns last season, but his 69 receptions and 1,052 receiving yards were his fewest in a full season this decade.

Owens turns 36 this season. His best years as a Football player are behind him. Any team that signs him for 2009 should not expect to see the same receiver that hastened the departure of Jerry Rice from San Francisco earlier this decade.

Age does that to all players, particularly those who rely on their speed.

Marvin Harrison appeared ageless this decade with the Indianapolis Colts. At 34, he caught 95 passes for 1,366 yards with 12 touchdowns when the Colts won the championship in 2006.

But Harrison turned 36 in 2008. His body let him down, and his production let the Colts down. He caught 60 passes for 636 yards and five touchdowns, not exactly what the Colts were expecting from a player being paid to be their lead receiver. Indianapolis cut him last month.

Harrison is the NFL's second all-time leading receiver, with 1,102 catches. Cris Carter ranks third with 1,101. At age 36, Carter's numbers also tailed off. He went from 96 catches, 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns as a 35-year-old in 2000 to 73 catches, 871 yards and six touchdowns. So the Minnesota Vikings cut him.

Tim Brown ranks fourth on the NFL's all-time receiving list with 1,094 catches. His streak of nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons ended in 2002 ,when he turned 36. He caught 81 passes for 930 yards and two touchdowns that season.

Isaac Bruce ranks fifth on the NFL's all-time receiving list with 1,003 receptions. Last season, at 36, he caught 61 passes for 838 yards and seven touchdowns - a far cry from his Greatest Show on Turf days in St. Louis when he regularly averaged 17 yards per catch and went to Pro Bowls.

Andre Reed is tied with Owens for sixth on the all-time receiving list with 951 catches. The Bills cut him at age 35 after a 52-catch season in 1999. He managed 10 catches in his final NFL season at age 36 for the Washington Redskins.

Art Monk retired as the game's leading all-time receiver. He now ranks eighth with 940. At 36, he gave the Redskins the worst statistics in a non-strike season of his career, catching 41 passes for 398 yards and two touchdowns in 1993. So the Redskins cut him.

The only exception to the age rule has been Jerry Rice, who is the exception to all rules. He turned in an 82-catch, 1,157-yard, nine-touchdown season for the 49ers in 1998, when he was 36. He had two more 1,000-yard seasons in his career, including one at age 40.

Owens will turn up in another NFL building soon, telling the fans to get their popcorn ready. So let the speculation begin - Denver, possibly, because of the uncertain future of Brandon Marshall. Oakland, always, because owner Al Davis embraces mavericks. Jacksonville, perhaps, because the Jaguars are desperate for help on the flank.

The owner who signs him will be hoping Owens can defy age as Rice did. But history says it's more likely Owens will be the next Monk, Carter or Reed, whose decline will accelerate with age.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 7, 2009

Matt Giordano Name: Matt Giordano
Position: S
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
College: California
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