Cowboys hand Owens walking papers

Published 12:04 am Friday, March 6, 2009

IRVING, Texas — Jerry Jones made it clear, both in action and words: Getting rid of Terrell Owens means a fresh start for the Dallas Cowboys.

T.O. was released Thursday, 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.

Email newsletter signup

‘‘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 caught more touchdown passes than any 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-for-2 in the playoffs with Owens, and didn’t even make it this past season. Dallas’ late-season collapse — capped by a lackluster effort in a win-and-you’re-in finale in Philadelphia — emphasized that a new attitude was needed.

Jones was slow to go along. Just a few weeks ago, he indicated Owens wasn’t going anywhere and firmly said the idea of locker-room problems were ‘‘a figment of the result. You didn’t hear about those things when we were winning.’’

Dallas also released safety Roy Williams on Thursday. 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.