Posted on Sun, Mar. 19, 2006 Eagles lose: Rival is better while Birds are silent. By Stephen A. Smith Inquirer Columnist His act is more suited for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus than it is for any locker room in the National Football League. We know this. So do the Eagles. And so does Terrell Owens, regardless of how often he'll deny it. But the one undeniable reality is that Owens can play some football, better than anybody he has left behind in this city, which should leave Philadelphians exasperated, if not depressed, by his exodus to the Eagles' most hated rival. In case you missed it, Terrell Owens is now a member of the Cowboys, a team that instantly becomes a contender with him. There are those who want to play psychiatrist, swearing that Dallas will rue the day it took this malcontent into its already fractious environment. That thought is understandable for a city blessed with a contender that has the heart to stave off an opponent with an infusion of talent. A show of hands from anyone who believes the Eagles are that team? Keep dreaming! You know better. Perhaps someday the Eagles will find a way to explain how they allowed Owens to land in their own division, scheduled to go against them twice a season, perfectly positioned to prevent them from advancing to the postseason. Perhaps someday they'll favor us with an explanation. Out of respect for their four consecutive trips to the NFC championship game, one trip to the Super Bowl, and years of quality play and decision-making, the temptation was to give the Eagles the benefit of the doubt by saying nothing until they did something and told us about it. Time's up! It's March. T.O. is gone. And all we see is Reggie Brown, Greg Lewis and a franchise player in quarterback Donovan McNabb, still injured by the way. Physical? Psychological? It remains to be seen. So it's time to see some action. Or get some kind of explanation. What have the Eagles been doing all these months anyway? Did Joe Banner and Andy Reid go on vacation and forget to tell everybody? Or did they just forget that their 6-10 finish last season put them in last place in the NFC East, mired in mediocrity for the first time since Reid took over this franchise, forced to rebuild their identity now, not just their roster? No one can legitimately say they have confidence in this team right now. Not while the Washington Redskins added receivers Brandon Lloyd (from the 49ers) and Antwaan Randle El (Steelers) to their roster before T.O. arrived in Dallas yesterday. And now that T.O. is a Cowboy - essentially for a one-year, $10 million deal, bloated with future incentives - the Cowboys, Redskins and divisional champion New York Giants are all better. Owens' temperamental behavior aside, the Eagles are actually worse. "I'm a star among stars now," Owens said, gleaming while sitting beside Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during a news conference. "I'm going to put [problems of the past] behind me. They can only make a man stronger, wiser. For me, that's what it's done. I'll be a better teammate, a better person, a better man in life. I'm looking forward to this opportunity." No one in Philadelphia should be happy about this. We can't reasonably expect Roderick Hood or Sheldon Brown to stop Owens, any more than we can expect Reggie Brown, Lewis or Darnerien McCants to replace him. And there were too many occasions last season when the Eagles' defense - dare we say it? - was less than reliable. It's bad enough this is not the same team it was two years ago, but when you consider the noticeable regression coupled with improvements everywhere within the division - plus the fact that Owens, with this new contract, has the potential to earn $5 million more in Dallas over the next three years than he would have made in Philadelphia through 2008 - the Eagles lost out in a variety of ways. They lost out in talent, certainly in execution, and now a legitimate argument can be made that their image took a hit. Jones may be desperate, having won just one playoff game since 1995, but, unlike the Eagles, he wasn't responsible for T.O.'s dirty laundry being aired in public. That's never been his style. He's the guy willing to take a chance and surrender some dollars. The word may be out on T.O., but it's also out on the Eagles. While proudly and effectively frugal, they also have shown a tendency to be spiteful. Once upon a time, we all thought it would catch up with them via free agency, attrition or just plain bad luck. With T.O. in Dallas, a more direct approach has been adopted. "Seven teams aggressively pursued T.O.," Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, quipped. Yet Owens is in Dallas now. I wonder why!