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Terrell Owens

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Terrell Owens
Date of birth December 7, 1973
Place of birth Alexander City, Alabama
Position(s) Wide Receiver
College University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
NFL Draft 1996 / Round 3/ Pick 89
Pro Bowls 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,
San Francisco 49ers
Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys

Terrell Eldorado Owens (born December 7, 1973, in Alexander City, Alabama), is an American football wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Over his ten-year NFL career, Owens has left a mixed legacy. He has consistently been among the league's most productive wide receivers, as well as one of the league's most outspoken and controversial players.


[edit] Early life

Owens was born in Alexander City, Alabama. He immersed himself in sports at an early age, idolizing Jerry Rice. He was not a distinguished high school athlete and only managed to earn his first starting position during his senior year. After completing high school, Owens chose to accept a scholarship from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).

While enrolled at UTC, Owens played basketball and track. Owens also had the opportunity to play at the 1995 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Outside of basketball, Owens also played football. He was not a distinguished athlete at first, but managed to make a breakthrough after becoming a starter during his sophomore year. Owens caught 38 passes for 724 yards and eight touchdowns during his sophomore year, and 58 passes for 836 yards and six touchdowns during his junior year. Owens faced double coverage every week during his senior year, and was limited to 43 receptions for 666 yards and one touchdown.

[edit] San Francisco 49ers

Based as much on his size and speed as on his demonstrated ability, Owens was drafted by the NFL's San Fransisco 49ers in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. While Owens was ecstatic to play alongside his idol, Jerry Rice, he maintained a solemn attitude during the team's practice sessions. Owens played his first professional game against the Atlanta Falcons, where he served as a member of 49ers special teams.

In the 1997 NFL season, Owens became a big name for the 49ers, when Rice went down early in the season with a torn ACL. He and quarterback Steve Young helped the 49ers win 13 games that season. In a wild-card playoff game the next year, after dropping a number of passes, Owens redeemed himself by catching a game-winning touchdown against the Green Bay Packers for a 30-27 comeback victory. This play has been dubbed The Catch II.

The following season was a disaster for the 49ers, as they fell from grace to a 4-12 record. Young retired after the 1999 season, and Jeff Garcia was named the 49ers starting quarterback. In 2000, the 49ers only managed to win six games. However, Owens had a record-breaking day on December 17, 2000 with 20 catches for 283 yards versus the Bears. His single-game reception total surpassed the 50-year-old mark held by Tom Fears.

The 2001 49ers managed to capture a 12-4 record but were defeated by the Green Bay Packers yet again during a wild-card game. The team's success was hampered by Owens' feuds with Garcia and 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci. Those feuds were temporarily put aside during the 2002 season when the 49ers surged to win the NFC Western division and earned a home playoff date against the New York Giants. In that game the 49ers produced the second-greatest comeback in NFL playoff history by coming back from a 24 point deficit (14-38) and winning 39-38 behind notable performances from Garcia and Owens in particular. Although the team lost its subsequent game to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the season had been successful. Still, that did not prevent ownership from firing Mariucci after the season's conclusion.

Following a subpar team season in 2003, Owens decided to leave the 49ers. Immediately after breaking off all ties to the 49ers, Owens appeared in an interview for Playboy magazine, where he created controversy after insinuating that Garcia was homosexual

[edit] Trying to leave

Although Owens was eager to leave the 49ers, the 49ers asserted that Owens's previous agent, David Joseph, had missed the deadline to void the final years of his contract with the 49ers. Owens and Joseph disputed this assertion, contending that the deadline referred to by the 49ers was not the applicable deadline. On March 4th, 2004, San Francisco, believing it still held Owens' rights, attempted to trade Owens to the Baltimore Ravens for a second round pick in the 2004 draft. However, Owens challenged the 49ers' right to make the deal. Owens assumed that he would become a free agent on March 3, and did not believe that the earlier deadline was applicable. So he had negotiated with other teams in advance of his expected free agency, and had reached a contract agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles, whose fan base strongly supported Owens in his desire to play for the team. The NFL Players Union filed a grievance on his behalf.

Before an arbitrator could make a ruling on Owens's grievance, the NFL and the three teams involved in the controversy reached a settlement on March 16, 2004. The Ravens got their second-round pick back from the Niners, and the Niners in turn received a conditional fifth-round pick and defensive end Brandon Whiting from the Eagles in exchange for the rights to Owens. Owens's contract with the Eagles was reported to be worth $49 million for seven years, including a $10 million signing bonus.

The cover of Owens' autobiography
The cover of Owens' autobiography

In September of 2004, Terrell Owens released a purported autobiography: Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon. The 288-page book was ghostwritten by Stephen Singular. Owens admitted in 2005 that he has never actually read his own "autobiography."

[edit] Philadelphia Eagles

The 2004 season got off to a great start for the Eagles, who won each of their first seven and 13 of their first 14 games; as well as for Owens, who averaged a touchdown catch per game before his injury. Owens gained a tremendous amount of popularity throughout the league, especially among the Eagles fan base. On December 19, 2004, Owens sustained a severely sprained ankle and a fractured fibula when Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams committed a horse collar tackle against him, before the technique was outlawed. This specific injury was given as one of the major reasons that the horse collar tackle was made illegal before the next season.

With the Eagles heading to Super Bowl XXXIX, Owens shocked the media by announcing he would play no matter what, even though team doctors stated that his injury would take several more weeks to heal. Sceptics were silenced when Owens started the game and played well; the result was 9 receptions and 122 yards, though the Eagles still lost to the New England Patriots. After the game, Owens criticized the media by saying that a player like Brett Favre would have been praised for such bravery.

[edit] 2005 contract controversy

In April of 2005, Owens announced that he had hired a new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and indicated that he will seek to have his contract with the Eagles renegotiated. Owens made $9 million in 2004 (most of which being bonus money as his base salary was only $660,000) [1], and was slated to make $3.5 million in 2005. This two year amount did not place Owens in the top 10 paid wide receivers playing. He also caused considerable controversy with a comment to the effect that he "wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl," the remark, thought by most, to be directed at Donovan McNabb, caused a controversy between them to heat up. Owens has always claimed the remark was not directed towards McNabb, but in regard to his obsessive diet and workout programs. On July 1st, Owens' relationship with the Eagles became even more tense after Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and club president Joe Banner denied Owens permission to play basketball in a summer league under the auspices of the NBA's Sacramento Kings

Owens' contract controversy heated up as training camp drew nearer. Owens, with the negotiating help of agent Drew Rosenhaus, continued to lobby for a new contract. Owens and Rosenhaus met with Eagles head coach Andy Reid and president Joe Banner, but no agreement was reached. This is in line with the Eagles' policy against contract renegotiations. Furthermore, Owens threatened to hold out of training camp until a deal was reached, but he reported to camp on time. When the 2005 football season began, Owens was in the second year of a seven-year, $49 million contract.

On August 10, 2005, Owens was suspended by the team for 4 weeks, after a heated exchange with Andy Reid. The Eagles mailed Owens a legal document, known as a Notice of Unsatisfactory Work Performance, at his Atlanta home on August 15 stipulating the behavior to which he was expected to adhere when he returned to the team, which he did, amid much fanfare, on August 17.

During the season, Owens continuted to voice his displeasure. Finally, after more disparaging remarks about Eagles management and Donovan McNabb, Owens was suspended four games without pay and then deactivated for the rest of the season. (See Controversy Section)

[edit] Dallas Cowboys

On March 14, 2006, the Philadelphia Eagles released Owens. [2] Four days later, on March 18, 2006, Jerry Jones announced that the Dallas Cowboys had signed Terrell Owens to a 3 year, $25 million deal, including a $5 million signing bonus, with a $5 million first year salary!

[edit] First season in Dallas

Owens' new found career with the Cowboys drew much scepticism and speculation. The move by Jerry Jones was also very debated by fans in Dallas. Several fans voiced their dismay towards Owens' for signing on the official Cowboys website. Many of those fans were still angry and bitter over the star incident, where Owens famously "disrespected" the symbol of the Cowboys.

Owens returned to the field during the Cowboys' 2006 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the game ended in a Jaguars victory, Owens recorded 8 receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown. The following week, Owens damaged one of his finger bones, and was forced to leave the game. It was later determined that Owens would require surgery to correct the injury, and require anywhere from two to four weeks to recuperate. Days after Owens promised his fans he would return to play against Philadelphia Eagles, he accidentally overdosed on his medication (See Controversy Section). After a bye week giving him time to recuperate, Owens played in the following game against the Tennessee Titans, where he earned 88 receiving yards.

The following week, Owens made his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia, where he played his former teammate, Donovan McNabb. Upon his return, Owens was met by a hail of angry cheers and taunts, including chanting "O.D." throughout the game. In fact, when Owens dropped a pass during the pregame warmups, the Eagles fans cheered. Despite pregame talk about a weak Eagles secondary, Owens struggled throughout the game. Owens had three catches for 45 yards, while the Cowboys went on to lose, 38-24.

After the game, according to an report from a stadium employee at Lincoln Financial Field Owens ran into the locker room following the 38-24 loss and launched a tirade yelling and asking why the Cowboys bothered signing him in the offseason. [3]. Owens later confirmed this in a post-practice interview

[edit] Controversy

[edit] Controversy with Eagles

During his weekly Philadelphia sports radio show on WIP (AM) prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys, Owens stated if he could return to the 2004 off-season he would not have signed with the Eagles. After the Dallas game, in which the Eagles were badly beaten, Owens was seen by Philadelphia Daily News reporters wearing a Michael Irvin throwback football jersey on the way to the Eagles airplane flight. The Cowboys are disliked in Philadelphia, and many fans viewed this as a slap in the face. According to sources and Andy Reid's post-game press conference, none of Owens' teammates or coaches challenged him. The following Friday, on Owens' radio show, he stated he did not care what the fans thought of him wearing the jersey and that he would wear what he chooses. It is well known that Owens and Irvin are good friends.

On November 3, 2005, Hugh Douglas, former Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End, acting as an ambassador for team management, started to have an argument in-front of the team in the locker room before practice. Soon, this led to a short fight between the two.

That afternoon Owens made a number of controversial statements during an interview with Graham Bensinger for ESPN. In the interview, Owens voiced his frustrations of the Eagles not recognizing his 100th career TD. The Eagles have since stated that the Club does not recognize individual achievements.

He referred to the Eagles as a classless organization for the way they behaved. When asked whether or not he agreed with a comment made by ESPN analyst and good friend Michael Irvin, Owens agreed to the statement, saying that he thought the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre were on the team instead of Donovan McNabb. More than just agreeing with the statement, Owens went on to expand to which at one point called Favre a warrior as if McNabb (who was playing with a sports hernia among other injuries) was not. This interview effectively ended Owens' career in Philadelphia.

During his weekly news conference the following day Eagles head coach Andy Reid said that Owens had been suspended for four games—starting with the 17-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on November 6—for conduct detrimental to the team. The four games represented the maximum amount of time that a player could be suspended without pay for such conduct under NFL rules. After Owens served his suspension, the Eagles deactivated him from their roster for the remainder of the season.[4]

On November 8th Terrell Owens and his agent Drew Rosenhaus held a news conference at Owens's residence. Terrell apologized to the team (including Donovan McNabb) and the fans. After Owens read his statement, Rosenhaus answered questions from reporters. However, Rosenhaus answered many questions, such as "What have you done for T.O. besides get him suspended?" with a "next question." He blamed the media for Owens's current employment status.

In his autobiography, "T.O.", Owens did state that most of the apology was forced upon him and not sincere.

On the grounds that deactivation cannot be used as a means of punishment, the NFLPA and Owens appealed the Eagles punishment to an arbitrator. On November 23, 2005 Terrell Owens' season was effectively ended after arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that the Eagles were justified in suspending him for four games and that they did not have to activate him or pay him after the suspension. The NFLPA said they would make sure Bloch never arbitrated with them again.

[edit] Desperate Housewives skit

Owens' skit with Nicolette Sheridan of Desperate Housewives featured Sheridan flashing Owens, which caused controversy.
Owens' skit with Nicolette Sheridan of Desperate Housewives featured Sheridan flashing Owens, which caused controversy.

On November 15, 2004 , Owens, wearing a Philadelphia Eagles uniform, appeared with popular TV actress Nicolette Sheridan (of the ABC series Desperate Housewives) in an introductory skit which opened that evening's Monday Night Football telecast, in which Owens and the Eagles played the Cowboys at Texas Stadium. Some observers condemned the skit as being sexually suggestive because of Sheridan taking the towel down (see video [5]), and ABC later apologized for airing it (the Eagles went on to win the game, 49-21, with Owens catching three touchdown passes). However, on March 14, 2005, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that the skit did not violate decency standards, because it contained no outright nudity or foul language. Many observers thought the controversy was much ado about nothing.

[edit] 2006 Hydrocodone overdose

Some media outlets in Dallas reported on the morning of September 27, 2006 that Owens had tried to kill himself by intentionally ingesting an overdose of hydrocodone, a pain medication.[1] A police report filed on the night of September 26 [6] seemed to confirm the attempt, saying that Owens' publicist, Kim Etheridge, found him unresponsive with an empty bottle of pain killers, pried two pills from his mouth, and called 9-1-1, after which an ambulance transported him four blocks from his Deep Ellum condo to the hospital.

According to the police report, Owens and Etheridge both said he was depressed, and Owens answered "yes" when asked whether he had intended to harm himself. Owens' publicist, however, refuted the report, stating that Owens had suffered an allergic reaction to the medication combined with a dietary supplement. ESPN reported that about half the police report was blacked out, including the phrases "attempting suicide by prescription pain medication" and "a drug overdose." [7]

Owens left the hospital later on September 27. At a news conference after his release, Owens denied having made a suicide attempt, stating that he expected to join the team for practice the next morning. He stated that he was "not depressed" and was "very happy to be here," and denied that doctors had pumped his stomach, calling speculation to that effect "definitely untrue."[2] The press conference took place after Owens had run routes and caught passes with the Cowboys' at the team's practice facility in Valley Ranch.

Owens' publicist lashed out at the police and said they took advantage of him. Notably, Owens himself made no such statements, and at his press conference praised both the police and medical personnel who treated him. Following the publicist's statement, the president of the Dallas Police Association (which represents rank-and-file police officers in Dallas) demanded an apology from Owens and his publicist saying "The officers reacted because they were called to this location to do this job. Now they’re being put under a microscope by some fancy little football person. Give me a break. Those officers are 10 times better than this man. ... We police officers don’t go out to these calls and make stuff up."[3]. No comment was made by the Chief of the Dallas Police Department regarding the publicist's statement, however. Then on Thursday, September 28, the Dallas Police Department reported the incident to be an "accidental overdose" and ended their investigation. [4]

[edit] Flamboyant celebrations

Owens is known for numerous, flamboyant celebrations after scoring touchdowns.

[edit] Celebrations for San Francisco

  • On September 24, 2000 in Dallas, Terrell Owens showed off his excitement after his two touchdown catches by running from the endzone to midfield and celebrating on the Dallas Cowboys' famous star logo. The second time Owens made a trip to the star, Cowboys safety George Teague hit him during the celebration, sending him sprawling to the turf. Teague would be ejected for his actions, while Owens was suspended for a week by his head coach and had a week's pay docked as well.
  • During a Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks on October 14, 2002, Owens pulled a Sharpie marker out of his sock to sign the football he caught to score a touchdown, and then gave the ball to his financial planner, who was in the stands.
  • In a game against the Green Bay Packers, Owens scored a touchdown and ran to a row of cheerleaders beyond the endzone. He reached out and asked to borrow two pompoms from a 49ers cheerleader, which he then playfully shook, doing his own brief spontaneous routine before dropping them to the ground.
  • On November 17, 2003, the 49ers hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Monday night game, and Owens wore a wristband with the words "The Answer" emblazoned on it. Just over eight minutes into the game, he caught a 61-yard touchdown pass from Tim Rattay (who was starting at quarterback because Jeff Garcia was injured), and excitedly pointed to the wristband after reaching the end zone to draw attention to it. After the game (won by San Francisco 30-14), Owens was asked by a sideline reporter the significance of the slogan on the wristband, and he replied: "Because I am The Answer." "The Answer" is the widely known nickname of Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson.
  • While playing the Atlanta Falcons on January 9, 1999, Owens caught a long touchdown pass and proceeded to mimic the "dirty-bird", the Falcons’ signature touchdown dance. However, Owens performed a slashing of the throat gesture at the end of the dance, which quickly silenced the crowd.

[edit] Celebrations for Philadelphia

  • The Bird Dance "The Bird" became T.O's trademark dance with the Eagles. In the 2004 season, the Birdheadz (The Original 'Ol Head, Whey Cooler and DJ Holland) a local Philadelphia group came up with a song called "Flying with the Birdz, Do the Bird" during the Eagles 2003 playoff run. T.O. did the Bird Dance all that season after a big play or TD. During the Super Bowl New England players mocked Owens's Bird Dance during their celebrations. It was mocked before by the Pittsburgh Steelers in their victory over the Eagles earlier in the season.
  • He imitated and mocked the trademark pre-game ritual of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis after scoring a touchdown while playing against the Ravens in the 2004 season.
  • After catching a touchdown from Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb during a game in Cleveland, Owens ran through the end zone and tore down a hand-made sign which read, "T.O. has B.O.".
  • After scoring his 100th career touchdown in Philadelphia, he pulled a towel from his waist, folded it over his arm, and then placed the football in the palm of his hand, holding it over his shoulder and pretending to serve it up to the opposing team like a waiter would present a meal.
  • After scoring a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in 2004, Owens celebrated by doing six sit-ups in the end zone, one for each touchdown he had scored at that point in the 2004 season.
  • In a game against Dallas, Owens scored three touchdowns. Upon scoring the first, he mimed ice skating, whereas after the second touchdown, he found himself conveniently in the endzone painted for Dallas, with their signature star logo right near where he was. In an apparently spontaneous move, Owens stepped onto the star logo, leaned back and stretched out his arms in triumph as a more understated tribute to his 2000 celebration in which he ran out to the big star logo at midfield. In the third celebration, he dunked the football over the goalpost.

[edit] Celebrations for Dallas

  • After catching a touchdown against the Washington Redskins on November 5, 2006, Owens pretended to take a nap, using the football as a pillow. The Cowboys were penalized 15 yards for "excessive celebration". Days before the game, Owens was reported to have a habit of falling asleep during team meetings.
  • On the Thanksgiving Day game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 23, 2006, Owens, after catching a pass for a touchdown, dropped the ball in an oversized Salvation Army Red Kettle, donating the ball to the Salvation Army. (Since 1997, the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game halftime show has traditionally started the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Christmas Campaign.) About the touchdown celebration, Owens was quoted as saying, "That was my donation. I hope it's worth as much as the fine." [8]

[edit] NFL records and career notables

  • Only receiver besides Jerry Rice to have 5 or more seasons with 13 or more receiving TD's in a regular season
  • Has had 109 total touchdowns
  • Averaged one touchdown per game in 2001 and 2004
  • Has had six 1,000 yard seasons, including five consecutive (2000-2004)
  • Holds NFL record 20 receptions in a single game against the Bears
  • Reached 100 catches in only 14 games in 2002
  • Is tied for second all time in receiving touchdowns on Monday Night Football with seven
  • Led League in receiving touchdowns for two consecutive seasons.

[edit] Trivia

  • Owens won the celebrity slam-dunk competition at the 2000 NBA All-Star Game and he states that basketball was his first love after football.[9]
  • Owens is a two-time winner of the 100-yard race at the Superstars competition, which features top athletes in a variety of sports. [10]
  • Owens was also the victim of a episode of Punk'd, starring Ashton Kutcher, which is based on his November 19, 2005 suspension. [11]
  • Owens was on the cover of ESPN NFL 2K5 as a Philadelphia Eagle.
  • Owens is one of an increasing number of professional athletes to use hyperbaric oxygen therapy. [citation needed]
  • Owens is the subject of a photographic work by contemporary African-American artist Hank Willis Thomas entitled Liberation of T.O.: Ain’t no way I’m go’n in back ta’work fa’massa in dat darn field[12](2004). The work was featured in the Studio Museum of Harlem's 2006 group show of emerging artists, Frequency.
  • Rap artist R. Prophet of the Nappy Roots group made reference to Owens in his rap "Run Tell The DJ." He said he "talk shit and back it up like my man T.O." [13]
  • Rap artist Joe Budden referenced T.O. in his song "We got this locked" saying "I'm at the label like Terrell Owens, renew that contract." [citation needed]
  • While playing in college, Owens wore the #80 jersey to honor his idol, Jerry Rice. [citation needed]
  • Owens appears in a cameo receiver in the movie Any Given Sunday as the Shark's wide-receiver #82. [14]
  • In 2003 he was in a commercial for the ESPY Awards where he caught a home run ball from Barry Bonds (another controversial athlete) in McCovey Cove. [citation needed]
  • In 2006, Owens wrote Little T Learns to Share, a children's' book which encourages children to share.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "T.O.: 'There was no suicide attempt'", Dallas Morning News, September 27, 2006.
  2. ^ Glauber, Bob. "Owens denies suicide try", Newsday, September 27, 2006.
  3. ^ "T.O. Returns to Practice", MSNBC, September 28, 2006.
  4. ^ "Police say Owens accidentally overdosed", Yahoo!, September 28, 2006.
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