Iyanla Vanzant introduces us to the real Terrell Owens

“Now if there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public”

-Smokey Robinson

Iyanla and TOI had never heard of Iyanla Vanzant before last week but that’s probably because I’m not privy to the regular programming lineup of the Oprah Winfrey Network.  I am, however, a football fan so I’ve obviously heard of Terrell Owens.

Over the past several years, T.O. has been one of the most polarizing athletes in professional sports.  Watching these two meet for the first time on Iyanla’s Fix My Life series was as uplifting and meaningful as any performance Owens ever had over his fifteen years on the football field.

Many of us, myself included, have mocked Terrell Owens in the past without realizing the childhood torment that turned him into the pompous athlete we all came to resent.  That’s probably true with a lot of athletes we form opinions about without  understanding their plight.  Iyanla would probably tell us to take a good look in the mirror before we cast that first stone.

In this rather touching episode, the premiere of her fourth season, she travels to Owens’ hometown, Alexander City, Alabama, by the request of the former Niners, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills and Bengal wide receiver.  Little did he know what she had in store.

Trust me when I tell you, Iyanla keeps it real throughout their entire journey.   She had Owens crying nine minutes into the show.

“The penalties of your choices as a man cost you dearly,” she tells him as she gently pokes a finger into his chest.  She is about to break him down before she can build him up.

TO CriesShe forces Owens to take accountability for his actions and not blame the media, his coaches or his quarterbacks but before he can do that, she must understand the hurt that has resided within him since childhood.

His football career now over, Owens has ended up back up in his small home town, broke and with little to show for the tens of millions of dollars he earned playing professional football.  The household where he was beaten regularly by his grandmother, where his mother essentially abandoned him and where a man who he didn’t know was his father raised another family right across the street, is where Iyanla and Owens first meet.

Iyanla is inspirationally good at what she does.  She constantly reminds Owens that he needs to find the value and meaning in his life that playing football could only superficially provide.  She also warns Owens that if he doesn’t confront his demons, the four children he has with four different mothers will suffer the same fate.  His parent’s pathology must be broken.

Iyanla confronts both the father (off-air) and the mother (on-air) and refuses to allow anyone to not be accountable for how their actions shaped the man that Terrell Owens has become.

“Relationships are the playing field of life and right now there’s a man down,” she preaches.  She escorts Owens on to his high school football field, throwing penalty flags for all the mistakes he’s made in his life, explaining in football terms how these penalties “cost him yardage” to “keep him from scoring” in the things that matter most in his life.  She then makes him pick up the flags and carry them around for the rest of the episode to demonstrate his willingness to clean up his mess.

TO Iyanla and fatherUltimately, Owens confronts the father he never knew he had, who never told him he loved him, yet lived right across the street, expressing his deepest emotions and regrets about his upbringing.   I suggest you have your Kleenex ready for this encounter.

In only an hour’s time, Iyanla presents a very compelling episode that shows us the side of an athlete we never knew existed.

You can bet I’ll be watching when she does it again.  Just don’t tell anyone I’m watching the Oprah channel.

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20 Replies to “Iyanla Vanzant introduces us to the real Terrell Owens”

  1. Pingback: Iyanla Vanzant introduces us to the real Terrell Owens - BallHyped Blog Network, NFL | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. I’m surprised,but then again not so much, that you haven’t heard of Iyana before the T.O. show, She has been a staple in African/Black American culture for quite some time. CHeck out here website and continue to grow my son 🙂


  3. You had to know, based on TO’s drama queen antics, his need for the spotlight whether it put him in a good light or otherwise, there was more to his story than was being portrayed. Personal accountability is a tough one growing up. You’re always ready to point a finger anywhere other than at yourself. Maybe TO is a better person now…

    The other question that then comes to mind; how many other prima donna athletes who can do no wrong have a similar background as TO’s. I’m willing to wager, given where our society is generally and where black society is specifically, there are many, due to their upbringing in an adult male free environment, who have the same problems becoming more than an adult in physical terms only…

  4. Dwin…

    There are definitely obstacles we all face. I’m glad you brought up that point.

    I’m not suggesting Iyanla cured T.O. but she certainly led him on the right path.

    Which course he takes is now up to him.

  5. Sure, TO had his antics and all his issues… and his attitude, but he sure provided a lot of memories on the field. The guy was talented and a beast of a receiver… one of many guys that let their attitude get in the way of what they could do on the field. If only so many of those WR’s were like Larry Fitzgerald, both on and off the field.

  6. Chris

    Which Owens is actually the most reprehensible ? The one who disparages a teammate after a Superbowl loss , or the one who abandons his the mother of his child and claims because of his financial imperilment he can’t afford to pay child support ( owing well over $100,000) ? As talented as Terrell Owens was said to be , away from and in the game , he was simply a narcissist and damn well self absorbed in his own importance .

    Anyone seeking to use the wide receiver as any type of a role model had better rethink that particular idea .

    tophatal ………..

  7. Chris

    I forgot to ask …… Georgia Southern , are they country group or a D1 football program ? How the hell can the Gators lose a game to an opponent who actually failed to obtain a pass completion until the middle of the second quarter ?

    Does Jeremy Foley still have Ron Zook’s number on speed dial ? Better yet , Foley should call Zook to see if he’s interested in leaving his high-paying executive gig at a bank to aid the Gators’ coaching staff in some capacity , even if it is in assessing and developing talent . Because it looks as if Muschamp does appear to be failing miserably at both .

    tophatal ……………

  8. Al…

    I’ll have my more enlightened take on the Gators up soon.

    In the meantime, all indications out of Gainesville are that, while there will be changes within the coaching staff, Will Muschamp will not be one of them.

  9. As for TO , here’s a guy who even when in San Fran wanted to be seen as a team player but did everything away from the field to suggest otherwise . Iyanla Van Zant has better things to do with her time than trying turn around the life of Owens who has never given a damn about anyone including his own damn children. The guy is full of crap !

    Your thoughts on the Mavs’ Mark Cuban wanting to see the use of PED’s within the NBA ? I raised that in my most recent piece , but it didn’t appear to provoke any thoughts or comments by you .

    If the Bucs can win another three games then in all likelihood , Greg Schiano will be back next season .

    Muschamp will be safe for now , but I can’t the same for the rest of his coaching staff who have performed poorly . Yet the “buck” has to begin and end with the head coach and no one else .

    The almost $100 million the Bulls have vested in D Rose has now gone up in smoke .

    tophatal ……

  10. Well, Al, personally I don’t care whether T.O. succeeds or fails but for the sake of his children, here’s hoping he does the right things to right his ship. And theirs.

    Re: Cuban, I think he just says things to move the meter. Suggesting the use of PEDs or at least studying the benefits of them? What, pray tell, was David Stern’s response?

    Schiano is safe, I believe. Muschamp is too but the same probably can’t be said for his offensive coordinator or offensive lines coach.

  11. You’re right, Rev. It’s the prima donna position in sports. But with guys like Larry Fitzgerald, we know it’s possible… and we’ll see it again.

  12. Well if Owens hasn’t done the right thing yet , I hardly doubt that Iyanla Van Zant will change the player’s demeanor or behavior .

    Schiano may well be safe , but between now and the end of the season will play a big part in any decision likely to be made . I am not so sure that the same fate will await Wil Muschgamp after the pummeling the Gators took at the hands of FSU .

    Nick Saban , once again showing , that his outsized ego and arrogance knows no boundaries after the debacle against Auburn .

  13. Al…

    I think the point of the episode, while not shirking any responsibility away from T.O., is to gain a greater understanding of what he, and all of us go through growing up, and how those things can leave permanent scars.

    Word out of Gainesville is still that Muschamp is safe, which is amazing considering he ended the season on a seven-game skid, unheard of ’round those parts. I don’t think Meyer lost seven games his entire tenure there.

    Re: Alabama-Auburn, Al, dare we say Nick Saban got out-coached?

  14. Chris

    Tell me that TO’s life has been harder than a military vet returning home (Afghanistan or Iraq) as a double amputee and then we can discuss things frankly .

    TO has been a self serving spoiled athlete who felt entitled at various stages of his life . Please don’t tell me you’re buying into his syrupy sob story and the fact that later in life as an adult , he simply did not know right from wrong ?

    All of this crap with athletes , who foist themselves on the public with all of their baggage , but when it’s all exposed , misdeeds including , they’re looking for empathy and pity .

    Nick Saban once again proving that his ego is just as big as the ‘bama campus . What a tool ! I hear the welcome wagon will be put out for kickers Cade Foster and Adam Griffith and they will be placed in a vat of their own excrement .

    tophatal ……………..

  15. I’m not comparing T.O.’s life to a veteran, Al. That’s preposterous.

    What I am suggesting is that the kid had an emotionally troubled childhood.

    Does that justify his behavior? No, of course not. But does it help explain it? To a certain extent, yes.

  16. Pingback: Terrell Owens not going to Hall of Fame… induction | Sports Chump

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