T.O.s lawsuit a bit odd for me

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I have always thought of Terrell Owens as a shameless self-promoter. Yes, he is an exceptional football player, I won&8217;t deny that, but it seems to me that his off-field antics, and on-field antics for that matter, over shadow what could otherwise be viewed as an exceptional career.

Whether he is moaning and complaining about a teammate (see Donovan McNabb) who is overshadowing him or a personality conflict with a coach (see Bill Parcel), Owens always seems to find the negative in any situation. Then of course you have his on field performance, which I respect as long as he is between the endzones. But his need to grab the spotlight by performing silly and over the top endzone dances seems like a childlike cry for attention&8230; Perhaps it is all a deep-rooted, psychological need to be the center of the spotlight now that I think about it.

Anyhow, imagine my surprise when I turned on Sports Center this morning and found that Owens has sued a Manhattan nightclub, the Avalon, for using his name and photo without his permission. At first glance I was surprised that the self promoter was upset that his likeness was being used to promote anything &8212; I mean the man&8217;s &8220;official&8221; Web site is reminiscent of a refrigerator of self promoting clippings with his scene from the MTV show &8216;Punk&8217;d&8217; and the controversial commercial for Monday Night Football with him and Nicole Sheridan &8212; and then I began to think.

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Perhaps Owens&8217; uncharacteristic cry against having his face in the public is, in fact, a way to stick his face even further into the public. I mean this is a guy who on his own Web site has a rap he made expounding on his ability to get his way in all situations (more specifically leaving the Eagles organization and moving to Dallas after his spat with McNabb). This is the man that pressured Parcel to leave the Cowboys because he wouldn&8217;t take orders from one of the best coaches in professional football.

But, having ranted about Owens character flaws, let me back track a bit.

Owens, though I might not love the guy, does have point with this lawsuit if what he and his representatives are contesting is true. He is saying that the club, on Manhattan&8217;s West Side, improperly used his name, likeness and initials, T.O., in 2006 and 2007 to promote its Friday Night Lights events and other parties. He also is saying that the club claimed he would be hosting these parties as well.

I, of course, feel that, if true, the nightclub erred, and T.O. is in the right by trying to end the improper usage of his image. I whole heartedly agree with his request to the judge in the case that the club be barred from using his name and likeness again in the future without his permission Even with my disdain for the way Owens carries himself, I would back his argument if not for one point: T.O. is asking for compensatory and punitive damages from the club.

Owens is expected to earn $5 million in salary and a $3 million bonus from the Dallas Cowboys for the 2007 season alone. That number doesn&8217;t include any money T.O. makes on the side through endorsements or appearances, so what does he need money from this nightclub for?

And he isn&8217;t asking for a small amount. He wants $100,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. I don&8217;t know many nightclubs that can weather that kind of financial storm.

If Owens was really after rectifying a wrong he would ask for the use of his image to end and leave it at that. He wouldn&8217;t try to ruin the livelihood of the club owner or owners and its employees by suing for what likely will amount to the end of the club&8217;s existence.

It is through his exorbitant request in the form of monetary compensation that I have come to the conclusion that this is another notch in T.O.&8217;s belt in grabbing and keeping the public&8217;s attention. If I were the judge I would tell the bar to stop using Owens&8217; image and order T.O. to therapy to resolve some mommy issues and get some act right.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at brandon.glover@demopolistimes.com.