Owens' book adds fuel to Ravens feud

October 26, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

As the showdown between the Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles approaches, another chapter has been added to the feud between the Ravens and receiver Terrell Owens.

In his recently released autobiography, Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon, Owens wrote that general manager Ozzie Newsome used a racially charged comment in an attempt to lure the Pro Bowl receiver to the Ravens seven months ago.

According to the book, Newsome told Owens' agent that "he was a black man from Alabama just like TO" and "that sometimes a black man's gotta be slapped."

Asked about the statement, Newsome said yesterday, "Please, why should I respond to that? I did tell TO that he should check with the veterans we brought in over the years. I told him to call Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe, Michael McCrary and Sam Adams, and they will let him know how we treat veterans here. I'm not talking any more about it."

David Joseph, Owens' agent, declined to comment yesterday about that conversation with Newsome, saying only that, "It's in the book."

Owens will be a hot topic all week in the Ravens' locker room as the hype builds toward Sunday in Philadelphia, where he will be pitted against the team he spurned for the first time in a regular-season game.

The Ravens' rocky relationship with Owens dates back to two weeks in March, when they went from being assured of having one of the game's top playmakers to being compensated with a fifth-round draft pick.

After a paperwork error prevented Owens from becoming an unrestricted free agent, the San Francisco 49ers on March 2 granted him 72 hours to work a trade. Two days later, the 49ers sent him to the Ravens for a second-round pick in a move Owens said violated his trust.

In an entire chapter devoted to this offseason drama, Owens wrote that the Ravens worked out the trade with San Francisco without trying to reach a new deal with him - as Philadelphia had been doing - and wanted him to play under his old contract this season.

From the Ravens' perspective, based on how the NFL Management Council originally interpreted Owens' contract, the club was within its rights to work a trade with the 49ers without negotiating with Owens.

When Owens publicly protested the trade, he said Newsome tried to soften his stance and talked about how the Ravens were willing to work out new terms. According to the book, Newsome told Joseph, "I will make TO love me. I'm gonna show him so much love that he won't know what to do. Everybody loves playing in Baltimore."

On March 5, when Joseph declined to meet with Newsome, Owens wrote that Newsome "finally stopped talking about love."

Owens wrote that Newsome told Joseph, "sometimes a black man's gotta be slapped." When Joseph, who is white, asked Newsome what he said, Owens wrote that Newsome repeated the comment.

Newsome tried to call Owens, but the receiver wrote that he hung up on him.

Owens later got his wish to play for the Eagles after a three-team settlement on March 16 voided his trade to the Ravens.

He has flourished in his first six games in Philadelphia, catching 34 passes for 596 yards and eight touchdowns. The Ravens' receiving corps has 37 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns.

Ravens officials have tried to distance themselves from any controversy with Owens.

"We got done with all of that in the preseason," coach Brian Billick said.

In that 26-17 preseason loss to the Eagles, Owens had an 81-yard touchdown catch on the first offensive play, outrunning Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter.

Chris McAlister, the Ravens' other starting cornerback, didn't play that game because he was holding out.

"I covered him last year all over the field and I don't have a problem with him," said McAlister, referring to last season when he held Owens to three catches for 23 yards. "I like the challenge."

As to whether Ravens players hold a grudge against Owens, McAlister shook his head.

"You guys might think he did something to the organization, but he didn't do nothing to me," McAlister said. "It's not personal. It's another football game."

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