I thought it couldn't get any worse than Terrell Owens calling out a reporter on national television and labeling him a liar about a dozen times during a televised post-game news conference.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
A day after ESPN said that it stood by Ed Werder and his reports last week of growing dissension within the Dallas Cowboys, especially between Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Owens the network aired an "exclusive" interview between Stephen A. Smith and Owens.
In the interview Owens, sitting in front of a Christmas tree, once again called out Werder several times. After Owens' clearly rehearsed opening answer to Smith's initial hard-hitting question ("what happened?"), Smith followed up by asking Owens, "So you're saying that what Ed Werder reported was completely false?" This lead to another scripted response from Owens in an interview that played out more like power-point press release by Owen's agent Drew Rosenhaus than an engaging discussion.
Never before have I seen a network throw one of its own under the bus as badly as ESPN did Werder during the laughable interview.
It would have been one thing if Werder had done the interview, which by the way would have been one of the most interesting sit-downs since Frost/Nixon, but to have Smith -- whose knowledge of the controversy is about as extensive as most following the story on television -- do the interview gave it the appearance of being nothing more than an orchestrated statement from Owens and Rosenhaus. I can almost understand the NFL Network bending over backwards for Owens during those nauseating T.O.-Deion Sanders love fests, but there's no need for ESPN to do the same when the reputation of one if its reporters is being sullied in the process.
Owens made his feelings about Werder known after the game on NBC and during the post-game news conference, which was shown on ESPN and ESPNEWS. His comments were subsequently replayed and discussed by the network's talking heads on their many other platforms. Was there really a need for an "exclusive" interview to continue a story on Tuesday that most of us thought had died on Sunday?
There's no way Werder can properly defend himself against Owen's allegations, and for ESPN to continue to put him in that position is unfair. Werder simply reported a story that he heard from "multiple team sources." What is he supposed to do? Name his sources? When Werder asked Owens if he would comment on what he heard and answer just a couple of questions last week, Owens said, "Nope." So if he turned down an opportunity to defend himself to the reporter actually covering the story, why should he be able to do so with someone he and his agent may be more comfortable with?
The story shouldn't be about Owens' problem with Werder, who has been covering the Cowboys since 1989 and has no reason to start making up stories, but that several players within the Cowboys locker room are growing tired of Owens' antics and are accusing him of doing things that he obviously believes are untrue. That's a story that Owens can not deny, and he would be better off trying to settle his problem with those players instead of a reporter trying to do his job.