In English Premier League, that would go to Joe Cole. In the National Football League, that would go to Terrell “T.O.” Owens, both have now been snapped up…

Joe Cole, Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Joe Cole, still only 28, 29 in November, this is Cole at his footballing peak, he seems to be asking too much considering he was barely played for Chelsea due to injury and not captialising on the chances presented to him.

Joe Cole, the product of West Ham United’s famous Youth Academy, the same academy that brought you Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard Jnr. and Glen Johnson. Joe Cole arguably the best player at West Ham at the time was given the captain’s armband for the 2002/03 season, unfortunately West Ham were relegated and much is the norm for a Premier League team relegated to the Championship, their best players were sold to save money on the wage bill due to the considerable lack of revenue because of the tv rights money in the Championship is a lot less lucrative.

Cole then joined Chelsea amid a time when Chelsea, the then perennial 5th place team, were bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, and with Abramovich came a philosophy of big money purchases mixed with young upcoming British players. Some British players bought were Frank Lampard, Damien Duff, Shaun Wright Phillips and CA$Hley Cole. Joe Cole took advantage of injuries to star players in the 2004/05 season to become a star in his own right, helping Chelsea to win the Premier League title, and again in the 2005/06. Then Joe Cole unfortunately was was the subject of numerous injuries, but when Cole did play, he showed glimpses of the skill that had saw Chelsea seek interest in him. Which brings us up to date…

Terrell Owens, Wide Receiver

Terrell Owens, more commonly known as “T.O.”, has been a prominent wide receiver in the NFL for over a decade, but by turning 37 years old in December, you can’t help but think he’s asking too much from any NFL team seriously wanting to pick him up.

T.O started his professional career for the San Francisco 49’ers in 1996, selected in the 3rd Round, 89th overall. T.O. became the star player after star wide receiver and all round legend of the game Jerry Rice injured himself in the 1997 season, in the 1999 star quarterback and all round legend of the game Steve Young injured himself, Jeff Garcia came in and thus began an era of 49’ers football making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Almost on a game-to-game basis, T.O. blasted Garcia for being a below-average quarterback. So bad was the situation after the 2003 season after T.O. had severed all ties with the San Francisco 49’ers, he insinuated Jeff Garcia was homosexual.

On March 3rd 2004, Terrell Owens signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and much like the time T.O. spent in San Francisco, when the times were good, he was generally play well and let his performances do the talking, but when times were bad, T.O. would “throw the quarterback under the bus”, this time, it was Donovan McNabb. The pinnacle of Terrell Owen’s time in Philadelphia was an appearance in Superbowl XXXIX, Owens was injured for much of the post-season in a race against time to make it IF the Eagles could in fact reach it. They did, and T.O. started, but was clearly still carrying the injury, and his play was not to it’s usual high level, the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots, the following couple of years, the relationship between McNabb and Owens only worsened, to the point Owens was de-activated by the Eagles organisation for a season. Owens was then released by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Owens then signed for the Dallas Cowboys, possibly the most high-profile of his club stints for a number of incidents happened, a failed drug overdose, a return to face the Eagles, a fall out with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, but then the apparent breakdown of T.O. when the press or fans badmouthed Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Another key case of of when the going was good, T.O. was good, when the going was bad, T.O. was bad. By this time, the NFL teams, their fans, their owners had as enough of T.O’s antics and only the most desperate teams would think of signing Terrell Owens. The Buffalo Bills, a team in dire need of fan support, picked him up on a one-year contract, where Owens played easily the worst football of his 15 year career, most of it was down to the Bills being as far away from a contender as possible, a very average team indeed, and a part of it was also the fact the Bills never did cement their quarterback position.

And so that brings us up to date…

Joe Cole signed a 4 year, allegedly £90,000-a-week, contract with Liverpool Football Club. Terrell “T.O.” Owens has signed a 1 year contract worth allegedly $2 million with another $2 million possible for bonuses (thought to be based on receptions, yards and touchdowns) with the Cincinnati Bengals, which is apparently $4.5 million less than what he earned with his stint at the Buffalo Bills last year.

What we have here are two very gifted players playing the role of mercenary. Joe Cole as gifted as he is, has been injured a lot, and when he does play, he has shown glimpses of skill, as it stands, he’s a bench player. Yet he’s asking for starter’s money, and he had the option of Arsenal or Tottenham, as I think Manchester United ruled themselves out, but he chose Liverpool. He clearly is showing he is not willing to fight for his place, and at both, he would have to, at Liverpool, even if this is a down-year, he is still seen as a star player that can “walk onto” the team. As a player, he made the right choice, maximum money, maximum playing time, but as a poster for what kind of player he is, it’s the wrong choice. It’s the LeBron James of choices!

Terrell Owens was a great player, distractions included. Now he’s an average player, distractions included. Why would anyone pick him up when you could draft an average player, no distraction, still with time on his side, and still impressionable? If T.O. wants to play in the 2010 NFL season, he better sit-down, shut up, sign a MINIMUM contract, and let his play do the talking again, and when it does go wrong on the field, shut up, and surely it’ll sort itself out, slander isn’t helping anyone!

I suppose a sign of Owens’ limited time left in the game, is almost a “last chance saloon” is T.O. signing a one year, $2mil contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Antonio Bryant signed a four year deal back in March, so you can’t help but think T.O is a #2 or #3 option… With the “loss” of Chris Henry last season.