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Cowboys set to turn page

Team closes the book on T.O. era

Associated Press / March 6, 2009
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Jerry Jones made it clear, both in action and words: Getting rid of Terrell Owens means a fresh start for the Dallas Cowboys.

Though the news was widely reported late Wednesday night, T.O. was officially released yesterday, ending a three-year run that produced as many big headlines as big plays. Many of those headlines were about ego and attitude, and Jones has decided enough is enough. He wants the focus on winning, something the Cowboys haven't done in the playoffs since 1996.

"In the aftermath of the season, we talked about change," Jones said in a statement. "Some of what is changing involves the process and some of it involves people. This is a decision that was made based upon consideration for an entire team.

"We will move on now with a new team - a new attitude - and into a new stadium. The evaluation process and the prospect for change will continue at every level of the organization."

Owens released a statement on his website thanking Jones, coach Wade Phillips, and the organization "for the opportunity to be a member of the team for the past three years."

"A big thanks to the fans - you've been awesome! I look forward to the upcoming season and continuing to play in the NFL," Owens added.

Owens caught more touchdown passes than any other NFL receiver over the last three years and was a big part of Tony Romo's emergence from an unknown backup to a starlet-dating Pro Bowl quarterback with a $67 million contract.

Yet the Cowboys went 0-2 in the playoffs with Owens, and didn't even make it last season. Dallas's late-season collapse - capped by a lackluster effort in a win-and-you're-in finale in Philadelphia - emphasized that a new approach was needed.

Dallas also released safety Roy Williams. Despite his reputation as a hard hitter, teams never hesitated throwing his way in recent years because he struggled in coverage. After Owens, Williams likely was the second divisive figure among Cowboys fans - especially after Dallas already got rid of Adam "Pacman" Jones and Tank Johnson.

"Roy has been a wonderful representative of this organization since coming to Dallas," Jones said. "Unfortunately, we have reached a crossroad with his time here in Dallas and the difficult decision was made to allow him to explore other opportunities in the NFL."

Cutting Owens and Williams will cost the Cowboys about $14 million against the salary cap.

Some signs of the times
Robert Royal agreed to a contract with the Browns, helping fill the void left by the departure of Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Royal caught 33 passes for 351 yards and one touchdown last season for the Bills . . . Quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan is close to getting a multiyear deal from the Bengals, said a person familiar with the talks. Cincinnati would be O'Sullivan's ninth team in the last eight years . . . Veteran kicker Matt Stover says he's no longer in the Ravens' plans. Stover said when he approached team officials to tell them about a free agent offer from the Jets, he was told the team was "going in a different direction." But the Jets re-signed Jay Feely. In 18 seasons, Stover has made 462 of 552 field goals.

Lynch receives probation
Bills running back Marshawn Lynch pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge in Culver City, Calif., and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and probation. Lynch was arrested Feb. 11 after police investigated a parked car without license plates and smelled marijuana when the driver rolled down the window . . . Sports attorney David Cornwell is back in contention to become the NFL Players Association's executive director. Also on the list to replace the late Gene Upshaw are former NFLPA presidents Trace Armstrong and Troy Vincent, and attorney DeMaurice Smith . . . The Pro Bowl's future in Hawaii will be decided today as the Hawaii Tourism Authority board votes whether to accept the NFL's proposal to host the all-star game at Aloha Stadium in 2011 and '12 for $4 million a year . . . The Jets are telling employees on the business side to take two weeks of unpaid leave this offseason, rather than cut jobs . . . George McAfee, 90, a College and Pro Football Hall of Famer who gained more than 5,000 all-purpose yards and had 21 interceptions in eight seasons with the Bears, died in Durham, N.C.

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