The logical parallel in the Antonio Brown fiasco was Randy Moss. They both left the dark doldrums of Oakland for greener pastures in New England.
On the surface, the Moss comparison makes the most sense and the receiver himself even chimed in about it. Moss made it work and thrived for the Patriots. But the drama that unfolded in the Philadelphia Eagles’ locker room in 2005 with Terrell Owens is a worst-case scenario for what can go wrong.
Owens allowed his bitter contract dispute to infect every aspect of the team. He feuded with Donovan McNabb, while the front office refused to play hardball. It was a no-win situation that eventually got Owens kicked off the team. If head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady don’t rein Brown in from the beginning, then a similar ending may be on the horizon.
Brian Westbrook Draws Terrell Owens’ Comparison
Brian Westbrook was Owens’ teammate in Philadelphia when that soap opera aired in primetime. The former Eagles running back appeared on the show “First Things First” to caution everyone about Brown’s potential impact on New England.
“There is no guarantee that he’s going to go in there and things aren’t going to go wrong,” Westbrook said. “Let’s say things go wrong … they have him for four weeks and he puts out a crazy Instagram message. Now who do you fall back on?”
Westbrook was coming off a career-year in 2004 when the Owens’ drama unfolded. He had rushed for 812 yards — 1,515 combined rushing and passing yards — and qualified for his first Pro Bowl. The Eagles couldn’t handle it and imploded with a 6-10 record, one year after a Super Bowl berth.
“AB is a huge distraction. We had a distraction with TO … and it wasn’t just him. It was Donovan. It was TO. It was the coaches. It was everyone else and it was a huge distraction,” Westbrook said. “We ended up kicking TO off the team and we still couldn’t get it together after he left, after what we described as a distraction left.
“Great player … it was a distraction what we had going on in that situation. AB can ruin this thing for them up in New England. I don’t think this locker room is Teflon by any means.”
Westbrook Was Holding Out in 2005
Ironically, Brian Westbrook was also seeking a new contract in 2005 at the same time Terrell Owens was disrupting the locker room. Westbrook was arguably the MVP of the team since the all-purpose was a triple threat: rushing, catching and kick returning. He missed several months as the Eagles were forced to renegotiate his contract.
“I’m glad to have an opportunity to continue my career in Philadelphia,” Westbrook said in a statement at the time. “I’ve worked very hard to put myself in a position to receive a long-term contract and I’m glad the Eagles have recognized my talents and dedication to this team.”
Westbrook eventually showed up at camp and started the regular season on the roster. In November, the Eagles rewarded him with a new five-year worth nearly $25 million. Westbrook spent five more seasons in Philadelphia and retired a fan favorite.