by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Syracuse University
The story of Terrell Owens is becoming sadder by the second. A warrant was recently issued for Owens’ arrest after he made it abundantly clear that he will be unable to meet the numerous child support obligations he’s created for himself. The warrant was for not showing up in court, but the athlete has been reportedly seeking massive reductions in the amount he is expected to pay.
There are no less than four different women commanding monthly child-rearing fees of as much as $20,000, an amount that Owens and his bad knees can no longer afford. Even though he once found these massive financial obligations to be within his budget, Father Time was sure to do his work. But also like too many of his predecessors, Owens doesn’t seem to be prepared to deal with life after football.
I’ve never met Terrell Owens. Also, I am not entirely judgmental of his baby mama issues, since I had a child myself at the age of 18. So, I am also an 18-year veteran of the Draconian child support system in America, where locking a daddy up is sometimes preferred to finding ways to help him to spend time with his children.
But where TO and I differ is in at least a couple of ways: 1) I stopped creating babies out of wedlock after my first stint in the system, and 2) I’ve never been the woman-magnet that Owens is (nor would I want to be). While being a professor on TV can certainly draw a disproportionate share of female attention, none of us knows what it’s like to have women throwing themselves at your feet and having your half-naked, muscle-bound body featured on the covers of magazines. In other words, Terrell Owens is the alpha male…I am not.
If I were to sit with Owens when he is alone with his thoughts, I’d ask this poor man a few simple questions: Was the sex worth it? Did those nights of fun make up for the years of misery that will surely follow as you are forced to give away the bulk of your earnings to women you are no longer dating? Did you love the women you’re giving all your money to, or did they make you think you were “da man” during a series of late-night booty calls? You DO REALIZE that the courts aren’t going to care about your new financial obligations when you settle down and create a family of your own, right?
The lifestyle of a young baller is something that too many black boys dream about growing up (I was one of those boys, thinking that being the fastest in my class meant that I was bound for the NFL). It seems that nearly every black boy with a little height or speed wants to be a professional athlete, and our society unfortunately teaches young men that if a beautiful woman offers you sex, you take it…no questions asked. You are the predator, and they are the prey, right? Yea, you can go right ahead and think that.
What they don’t tell you is that there can be an ugly downside to living the life and being “da man.” Sleeping with hundreds of beautiful women might seem exciting, but it can also lead to a life of sadness, unwanted pregnancy, debilitating drama, venereal disease and financial ruin. The after-effects can last for a lifetime, and it’s time that we start speaking honestly to our boys about these issues. Countless women feed the egos of men like Terrell Owens, and then help him walk right into the financial noose that ends up strangling him. At the end of the day, he can only blame himself.
Terrell Owens’ life appears to be on the decline, and I speculate that both he and the women of his past have at least a few regrets. The media will create at least a decade of profitable content by documenting TO’s downfall, and he will soon cease to be the mega-stud he believes himself to be.
The lesson for black male TO wannabes is simple: it’s OK to respect your body and you don’t have to offer yourself up to any attractive woman who is willing to lie down with you. Having sex with half the universe doesn’t make much sense for psychological, spiritual, health or financial reasons, even if you keep extra condoms in your pocket.
Given that too many black men don’t like going to the doctor (most of us know at least one sexually hyperactive guy who hasn’t gotten an HIV test in years), I speculate that our casual attitudes toward sexual promiscuity are quietly fueling the HIV, HPV, Herpes, and Gonorrhea epidemics throughout our communities. Also, black people are not marrying nearly as much as they used to, which dramatically increases the number of sex partners people have in one lifetime. Sex is one of the most enjoyable experiences on earth, but some degree of discernment might be called for that goes beyond the shape of a woman’s booty or the size of a man’s wallet.
Terrell Owens is not the last alpha male to experience the downside that comes with being on top. But when I see his life, I am reminded that, similar to the film “Dorian Gray,” sometimes getting everything you want can be as much a curse as it is a blessing. As men live their lives, it is important to at least try to live with principle, discipline and the ability to think about the future – I’m not thumping anyone in the head with a bible, but I am definitely trying to thump all of us with at least a little bit of common sense.
Without judging men like TO too harshly, I wonder if other young black males can learn from his mistakes. Every sexy woman waiting to give you her phone number after the game doesn’t deserve access to your reproductive organs. If she isn’t fit to be the mother of your children, then she may not be worth the risk. Sex is serious, powerful, amazing, and infinitely impactful…at least a little consideration should be taken before making decisions that could change your life forever.