All T.O., All the Time
Terrell Owens says he gets it.
"Anything I do is going to attract attention," the wide receiver told reporters Monday in Irving, Tex., "and you guys are going to blow it out of proportion. I don't really worry about it. I get it. I know who I am. I know the attention I get from the media. I know I'm under a microscope. I'm very positive about the situation. It's very unfortunate that I got fined and I was late. To my teammates, I apologize. I just have to move on. I can't let this keep me down."
Very little that Owens does or says, however, suggests that he actually gets it. He hasn't even made it to his first game with his new team, the Dallas Cowboys, after his former club, the Philadelphia Eagles, suspended, de-activated and then released him. And already, he has his new coach, Bill Parcells, sick of talking about the issues that he creates.
The latest issue, of course, is Owens reportedly being fined $9,500 for missing a team meeting and a rehabilitation session and being late to another meeting Friday. Owens confirmed that he'd been fined, saying that he'd overslept. That comes on the heels of Owens missing practices and three preseason games because of a sore hamstring muscle, even though two MRI exams have revealed no serious damage.
But Owens is taking the approach that once the season arrives and he gets back on the field--assuming he does get back on the field then--all will be well.
"A lot of this is basically a lot of nonsense," he said. "If I wasn't hurt, it wouldn't be that big a deal. Injuries are part of football. I think you guys know that. I think it's sometimes unfortunate that I'm getting all this criticism because I'm hurt. I know myself that if I'm healthy enough to play, then I'm going to do everything in my power to get on the field and play.... I think my play will speak for itself. I'm very confident in what I do once I get on the field. Honestly, once I get on the field, everything will take care of itself. Up until then, there's always going to be speculation. It's going to be, 'I knocked over a trash can. I kicked it too hard.' I just have to expect the worst and hope for the best."
Owens said there is "no tension" between him and Parcells.
"Everyone is trying to make it me versus Bill or Bill versus T.O.," he said. "I wouldn't say our relationship is where it needs to be but it's a building process for the both of us.... It's unfortunate that I'm hurt. I don't want to be hurt. There are other guys around the league that are hurt, but you don't see them getting nearly as much coverage as I'm getting."
Parcells was his usual engaging, combative self during his meeting with reporters Monday. When he saw the room packed with media members on the heels of the Dallas Morning News reporting the fine over the weekend, he said, "Is this the Cuban Missile Crisis today?"
No, just the latest Terrell Owens crisis.
Parcells refused to acknowledge that he'd fined Owens but said repeatedly that when he disciplines players for infractions like oversleeping and being late to team functions, he seeks to do so in a consistent manner. He scolded reporters again that if there was going to be a major Owens controversy, it wasn't going to start with him. He reiterated that when it comes to dealing with Owens, he alone is plotting the Cowboys' course and he doesn't care what outsiders think of what he's doing.
"I consider the organization," Parcells said. "I consider the team itself. I consider the coaching staff, what we're trying to accomplish this year. I consider things that you people don't even think of."
Parcells said "the only thing that's tedious to me is having to talk about it all the time." He said he knows that some of his other players probably are watching closely how he handles the Owens situation, but they should worry instead about themselves.
The next major issue for Owens and Parcells is whether Owens will be on the field for the Sept. 10 regular season opener at Jacksonville--and what it will take for him to demonstrate to Parcells that he belongs in the lineup that afternoon. Parcells said once more that Owens must practice to show he's healthy enough to play in a game.
Owens seems to accept that, albeit grudgingly. At one point Monday, he told reporters: "I'm not a trainer. He's not a trainer. I know how my body responds. I know my body better than anybody else."
But he also said: "If I don't practice, I don't play. What am I going to do, argue with that?... If that's one of his rules, then that's something I have to abide by."
Owens said his hamstring is improving but he's taking things day by day. He said he has been coming in regularly, sometimes late at night, to receive treatments. That has gone unnoticed, he said.
But not much else of what Owens does goes unnoticed. As always, he is the center of attention. He seems to relish that, even when he protests the way he is portrayed.
"It's not really a big issue," he said Monday of the latest flare-up. "It wouldn't be a big issue probably if I wasn't hurt."
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