The Terrell Owens story is supposedly a sports story, but it's broader than that. For those of you who haven't been following the story, here's the summary - Owens, a (now former) member of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, made some comments about the skills of the team's quarterback. To wit, he's spent months trashing Donavan McNabb, in public. Eventually, enough was enough, and the team cut him loose.
The thing is, this isn't simply a sports story. It's really about anyone in an organization who - for whatever reason - decides that the rules don't apply to them. Relatives of the CEO, "star" programmers, hot shot sales people - pretty much anyone who comes to the conclusion that they are so terribly valuable that the team couldn't possibly get by without them.
The trouble is, once they get to that point, they fail to see the chaos and damage they leave in their wake. With the Eagles, Owens left a team with no cohesion. "Star" programmers can do the same thing. We see this in public with celebrities in an exaggerated sense - people who truly think they can do no wrong.
There's some collective guilt in these situations. Friends and associates of the prima donna who never try to ground them in reality, for instance. After a few years of having everyone around you explain what a great guy you are, and how utterly indispensable you are, it's really, really hard to not get caught up in it. Owens just got the biggest favor of his life handed to him - he got fired, and had a cold glass of reality tossed his way. There are plenty of other "stars" who are long past needing the same thing. You might even have a few of them working for you.
What's a clear sign? When an employee starts picking public fights with management, you have a problem.