By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

Terrell Owens – Signed by the Bills in 2009

There are plenty of ways to have an impact on a city’s sports scene. The traditional one is to hang around long enough and be a standout on a team. Terrell Owens did it differently, as he frequently did. Just by arriving in town made Owens one of the most famous free agent signings in Buffalo history.

Owens was a third-round draft pick of San Francisco in 1996. Once he put his rookie year behind him, Owens was a constant pass-catching threat. In 1997 he started a run of seven straight seasons with at least 60 catches, and had at least 90 receptions in 2000, 2001 and 2002 – all Pro Bowl seasons. Then he jumped to Philadelphia, where he helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl. Owens spent two seasons in Philadelphia and three in Dallas when he became a free agent again. As the years went by, Owens became known as much for his outspoken remarks than for his pass catching.

In 2009, he became a free agent again. For someone used to the spotlight, Buffalo seemed like an odd landing spot. But the two sides agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal. T.O. received the key to the city of Buffalo before he put on a uniform. He then went out and – much to everyone’s surprise – quietly put together a decent season without any drama. Owens’ play picked up a notch once Ryan Fitzpatrick was installed as the first-string quarterback. Owens caught 55 passes for 829 yards, which were good numbers for a 36-year-old receiver.

From there it was on to Cincinnati for one final NFL season, and eventually he received a call to the Hall of Fame in Canton – and then skipped the induction ceremony. It was unprecedented and more or less in character. All in all, it was quite a ride, and it still seems a bit head-shaking that it included a stop here.

The best of T.O. here:

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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