End of T.O. era in Dallas

Well, you've probably heard the news by now.

The Cowboys have released Terrell Owens.

The story was first reported late Wednesday night by ESPN.com's Michael Smith.

I couldn't help but laugh this morning when I heard Stephen A. Smith's report on SportsCenter, saying Owens felt "blind-sided" when he heard the news.

Blind-sided? Hasn't every national football writer in the country been predicting this since the start of the offseason?

The rumors have been swirling for weeks. T.O. has not yet spoken publicly about the release, but I'm sure it's coming. And I'm sure it will be entertaining. ESPN may even create a new channel for coverage. I'm thinking Stephen A. or NFL Network's Deion Sanders are the favorites to land the interview. The odds for Ed Werder and Keyshawn Johnson are off the board.

Last year, reports surfaced that Owens was jealous of the relationship between Tony Romo and Jason Witten. T.O. also had run-ins with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Even with the distractions, the Cowboys were in position to control their own playoff destiny going into Week 17. But the Eagles got in their way, delivering a memorable 44-6 victory.

As for Owens, he caught 69 balls for 1,052 yards. Those were his lowest totals (not counting 2005 when he was doing sit-ups in his driveway and only played in seven games with the Eagles) since 1999.  T.O. did find the end zone 10 times, the fourth time in five seasons he reached double-digit touchdowns.

According to Mac Engel of The Star-Telegram, Jerry Jones spent weeks talking to team executives, coaches and scouts about Owens, and the consensus was that T.O. did more harm than good.

Looking back on his three-year run in Dallas, there are some memories we'll never forget. During Owens' first year, there was the suicide attempt that wasn't. And of course, T.O.'s obnoxious publicist Kim Etheredge telling us all that Owens had 25 million reasons to be alive.

In 2007, there was the "That's my quarterback" moment and the tears after Owens defended Romo's performance during a playoff loss to the Giants.

Owens turned 35 last season.

So, does this signal a change in Jones' philosophy? I don't think so. The Cowboys will not bring back Owens, Pacman Jones or Tank Johnson next season. But that probably has as much to do with their on-field performances as anything else. The next time a talented player who is deemed a "risk" is on the market, I still fully expect the Cowboys to get involved.

Where does Dallas go from here? Don't forget that even though they've been fairly quiet during the free-agency signing period, they traded for Lions wide receiver Roy Williams last season. He was a disappointment in 2008, but will be expected to be the No. 1 guy, and if the Cardinals ever decide to trade Anquan Boldin, well... let's not even go there.

And where will Owens end up? That's the question. Normally when a player gets cut, the assumption is that the Cowboys will be interested. But with Dallas being the team that released him, where do we go from here? The Raiders? You can never really count them out to make ridiculous personnel decisions, right? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, early reaction seems to support the move by Jones. Here's a sampling:

Jim Reeves of The Star-Telegram  writes that Owens' "reign of terror" is now over.

Jennifer Floyd Engel of The Star-Telegram says it's about time Jones starts listening to the team's football people.

Jean Jacques-Taylor of The Dallas-Morning News says Jones had to make a change, and this one signals that the Cowboys are Tony Romo's team. [Note: I think Eagles fans are OK with that]

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the news.