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Tuesday, November 15, 2005


T.O. Central, Part 977: The 'Funeral'
Paying Their Last Disrepects

Sometimes choosing what to write about is a process of elimination. Usually, no pun intended. Other reporters blanket important stories, interview real newsmakers.

Which leaves me what? Howard Eskin's "funeral" for Terrell Owens.

Yesterday afternoon, as part of WIP's pregame programming, the self-styled King of Bling staged a stunt near the Linc that ESPN called a new low, even for Philadelphia sports.

And that was before Eskin asked two strippers if they were lesbians.

Don't worry. Owens is alive and well. Nothing got buried. But Eskin did "cremate" a Terrell Owens jersey, with plans to cast the ashes on the field. Then out of a hearse came a coffin, its lid engraved with the dates of T.O.'s tenure, its interior lined in green velvet. Funeral music played. "Pallbearers" gathered, dressed in black Eagles jerseys. (See photo above.)

A woman named Kathleen threw in the first No. 81 jersey. "Goodbye, T.O.," she said. "... Rest in peace."

As fans began tossing in more now-unwanted T.O. jerseys, even pulling them off their bods, a dummy was deposited in the casket.

"That's an ugly looking effigy, that's all I got to say. Oh, it has a baby bottle," said WIP's Rhea Hughes.

Pages were torn from T.O.'s book, Catch This, and set aflame.

"I don't find it amusing," a caller said, supposing all the jerseys would be burned.

"We're donating them to the homeless," Eskin explained. "Someone in Uganda will be wearing a Terrell Owens jersey."

Ever the background chanting: "Dallas sucks! Dallas sucks!"

Eskin pulled no punches as he delivered his "eulogy" for "the biggest I-and-me guy I've ever seen in sports." Of T.O.'s hyperbaric healing chamber, Eskin said, too bad someone didn't turn off the oxygen. The reason T.O.'s selling two mansions: He doesn’t want to see his family starve.

In all, several hundred jerseys were collected. "But this is the most touching," Eskin said at one point. "It is a child's jersey."

A cynic might say: Only in Philadelphia. Score your 100th receiving TD and who cares? But lose your job, and they dance on your grave.

No, it wasn't classy. Not by a long shot. But it was a classic.


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