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Here We T.O. Again…

Aug 20, 2010, 1:01 PM EDT

Terrell_owens_bengals The 2010 Eagles make their national television debut tonight, and they're lining up against an old friend. Think FOX was gambling on Terrell Owens becoming a member of the Bengals this summer?

Obviously the narrative is somewhat different without a certain quarterback in the Birds' huddle. There is still plenty of history however, which Joe Buck and crew will needlessly remind us with multiple highlight packages pretty much any time the camera is focused on Owens.

The networks can cram it down our throats all they want. As fans, I believe we've officially moved past T.O.

For one, the Eagles have turned the page on an entire era. 2004 was a lot of fun, but it's a distant memory now. Practically everybody from that team is long gone and never coming back.

It's not really about that though. To truly understand Philly's growing apathy toward T.O., one must look no further than the path his career has taken over the past several years.

Last season, Owens was all but anonymous in his new home in Buffalo. The offense was putrid, and the quarterback situation was akin to a baseball team using their right fielder as a relief pitcher. The wide receiver's once prolific numbers took a nosedive as a result, and observers wonder whether he's washed up.

His sentence with the Bills concluded, but a tumultuous off-season followed. Nobody appeared to have much interest in signing Owens, partly because his effectiveness was called into question. Mostly, it was his reputation. All he wanted to do was play football, but everything appeared to be aligned against him.

Finally he wound up in Cincinnati, but it's hard to care much at all. If he rebounds from a down year, he's still playing for a mediocre franchise in the opposite conference. My personal intrigue doesn't extend any further than his fantasy football value.

Even during his final days in Dallas, the vendetta was waning. Owens wasn't a game changer in the majority of the head-to-heads, and truthfully, it came to feel like he and his tremendous ego belonged there in the first place.

We're not trying to build sympathy for the guy. T.O. made his own bed, and a ton of money doing it. That said, some of us have reached the point where we can look back and actually thank him. The contract situation that caused his exodus from the Eagles is in the past, and Owens is no longer a Cowboy.

He is and always was just a big kid who wants the football, and one special season, he did that here.

Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty Images