Terrell Owens Owens was born into a troubled home in Alexander City, Alabama. He immersed himself in sports from an early age, idolizing Jerry Rice. He was a four-year letterman in football and track at Benjamin Russell High School and also lettered three times in basketball and once in baseball. His high school career was not stellar. He didn't even start for the Wildcats until his senior year. He was not heavily recruited and chose to accept a scholarship from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga because they would allow him to play multiple sports.
Owens came into his own playing basketball, track and college football for the UTC Moccasins. He played in the 1995 NCAA Tournament in basketball and anchored the schools 4x100 relay team. Like his idol, Rice, Owens wore #80 on the football field. As a freshman, Owens was used sparingly by coach Buddy Nix, catching 6 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. In his sophomore year new head coach Tommy West promoted him to starter. He caught 38 passes for 724 yards and 8 TDs in his second year, including a school record 4 touchdowns against Marshall University. Playing for his third coach in three years, Owens anchored the offense and caught 58 passes for 836 yards and 6 TDs. He was named to the Southern Conference All-Conference second team. In his senior year Owens faced double coverage every week and was limited to 43 receptions for 666 yards and one touchdown.
San Francisco 49ers Based as much on his size and speed as on his demonstrated ability, Owens was drafted by the NFL's San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft, in which he was the 89th overall player selected. The chance to play alongside Jerry Rice thrilled the rookie. He stayed quiet in practice and made his first impact on special teams, recording three tackles in a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
In the 1997 season, Terrell Owens became a big name for the 49ers, when all-pro Jerry 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 1998 wild card playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers were trailing the Packers 27-23 with eight seconds left in the game. Owens caught a 25 yard touchdown pass while surrounded by four Packers defenders from Young that lifted the 49ers to a 30-27 victory. This catch became known as "The Catch II" among Niners fans. The following season was a disaster for the 49ers as they fell to 4-12. Young retired after the 1999 season and Jeff Garcia was named the 49ers starting quarterback. In 2000, although Owens put up very productive individual statistics, the Niners still only managed to win six games. In 2001, the 49ers rebounded to 12-4 before losing to the Packers in the wild card playoff round, but by then, Owens was having widely documented feuds with Garcia and head coach Steve Mariucci. Sportswriters reported that Owens would refuse to even speak to the coach. At the conclusion of the 2002 season, Mariucci was fired and replaced by Dennis Erickson. In 2003, the last season with Terrell Owens as a 49er, the team fell back to 7-9 and Owens constantly made insults about Garcia's on-the-field performance to the media. Even after he left, in interview with Playboy magazine, Owens insinuated that Garcia was a homosexual.
From the 49ers to the Eagles Although Owens was eager to leave the 49ers organization, Owens's previous agent, David Joseph, missed a February 21 deadline to void the final years of his contract with the 49ers (Owens would later fire Joseph). On March 4, 2004, San Francisco traded 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 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 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.
In September of 2004, Terrell Owens released a purported autobiography: Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon. The 288-page was ghostwritten by Stephen Singular. Owens admitted in 2005 that he has never actually read his own "autobiography".
Desperate Housewives skit for Monday Night Football On November 15, 2004, Owens created controversy once again, when he 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. The skit was widely condemned as being sexually suggestive (see video ) and ABC was forced to apologize 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. It was also said to be controversial due to the racial aspects of a black man and white women.
Early success in 2004, leg injury, and Super Bowl XXXIX 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 during a home game against the Dallas Cowboys; the injury was expected to carry throughout the post-season. This devestated most Eagles fans, but the team still managed to win their first NFC title since 1980 without Owens. 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. Skeptics were silenced when Owens started the game and played as if he had no injury at all; 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.
In April of 2005, Owens announced that he had hired a new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, one of the most aggressive agents currently representing NFL players, and indicated that he will seek to have his contract with the Eagles renegotiated. Owens made $9 million in 2004, and was slated to make $3.5 million in 2005. 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 apparently directed at Donovan McNabb, who indeed angrily denounced Owens for making it. On July 1 the Eagles denied a request made by Owens for permission to play basketball in a summer league under the auspices of the NBA's Sacramento Kings - a decision seen by some as a deliberate attempt to antagonize Owens on the part of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and club president Joe Banner.
Terrell Owens' number 81 jersey for the Philadelphia Eagles is a record-breaking piece of sports merchandise. As of the 2004 season, it was the most purchased NFL jersey.
Contract renegotiation before 2005 season 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. One of the reasons Owens was so intent on the contract is that he is owed approximately $7.5 million in guaranteed money in 2006. He was apparently concerned that the Eagles would not be willing to pay the bonuses and release him before they are due. However, considering Owens' talent and how he hadn't caused any problems so far, most regard those suspicions of being warrantless. Some also say that Owens really wanted a contract higher than Donovan McNabb's, which he believed would make him the face of the team.
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. As of the 2005 season, Owens is in the second year of a seven-year, $49 million contract.
On August 10, 2005, Owens was suspended by the team for two 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 is expected to adhere when he returned to the team, which he did, amid much fanfare, on August 17.
More 2005 controversy 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. Owens' comments were made a mockery of throughout the city considering the fact that the only other team interested in signing him was the Baltimore Ravens, whom he spurned in favor of signing 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. Philadelphia 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. It is well known that Owens and Irvin are good friends.
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. Former teammate Hugh Douglas, now employed in the Eagles front office, and as a regular personality on Philadelphia's 610 WIP, also had a personal grudge against Owens for events between them in the pre-season.
On October 26, 2005, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Terrell Owens put his 5 bedroom mansion in Moorestown Township, New Jersey up for sale. His publicist downplayed the sale, saying Owens was "downsizing" and wanted to move closer to Lincoln Financial Field. Clearly angered by his comments, a local radio station, Q102.1 FM, decided to help out Terrell by helping him move. Even making a remix of a Lil Jon song telling T.O. to leave, the station hired UHaul vans to come to Owens' house as a statement on how he had overstayed his welcome in Philadelphia.
Owens also made a comment on his radio show prior to the Denver game that he and Brian Westbrook weren't getting the ball enough, even though at that time Owens was tied for the league lead in receptions.
On November 3, 2005, Owens made a number of controversial statements during an interview with Graham Bensinger. When asked whether or not he agreed with a comment made by ESPN analyst Michael Irvin, Owens defended the statement, saying that he thought the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre were on the team instead of Donovan McNabb. He also criticized the Eagles organization for not publicly acknowledging his 100th career touchdown catch, and criticized the class and integrity of management while noting that his publicist had talked to the "head PR guy" prior to the milestone game and that they "used an excuse" that they did not recognize it was coming up. He stated that he believed it was a blatant lie, however later developments suggest that Owens misunderstood management regarding the recognition of his milestone game. Later the Eagles stated through a seemingly-subdued Owens during an apology the following day that they do not recognize individual achievements. Owens was suspended indefinitely on November 5 for conduct detrimental to the team. ESPN also revealed on November 6 that Owens had been involved in a physical fight with team official and former teammate Hugh Douglas earlier in the week.
Owens's antics and attitude have led one ESPN football analyst to label Owens as a "selfish jerk" on national television for the broadcast between the Eagles and Washington Redskins on November 6, 2005.
During his weekly news conference the following day Eagles head coach Andy Reid said that Owens has 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 represent the maximum amount of time that a player can be suspended for such conduct under NFL rules. After Owens serves his suspension, the Eagles will deactivate him from their roster for the remainder of the season.
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. Rosenhaus was also interviewed but answered most questions with a "next question;" however, he blamed the media for Owens's current employment status. Because Owens was given a chance to apologize before he was suspended, and failed to do so completely, most see this second apology (which came two days after his explusion) as insincere and only a way for Owens to save his paycheck.
Prior to the Eagles game against the Cowboys, in another one of his many own controversial actions, WIP's Howard Eskin led a mock-funeral outside Lincoln Financial Field to lay the Terrell Owens legacy in Philadelphia "to rest". Fans put various Terrell Owens memorabilia into a casket and loaded it into a hearse.
On November 23, 2005 Terrell Owens' season was effectively ended after an arbitrator ruled that the Eagles were justified in suspending him for four games and that they do not have to allow him back after the suspension.
On November 29, 2005, Senator Arlen Specter accused the NFL and the Eagles of treating Owens unfairly, and said that he might refer the matter to the Senate's antitrust subcommittee.
On December 16, 2005 Terrell Owens told the magazine