T.O. says his leg is ready

there's no doubt about his mouth

February 02, 2005|By David Steele

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The T.O. Paradox was in full effect yesterday morning at Super Bowl media day. A throng that routinely and reflexively gets outraged over Terrell Owens' every movement and utterance wedged themselves in front of him for a solid hour to hear every outrageous comment he could offer.

Nobody left disappointed -- except, maybe, those who couldn't get down to the Alltel Stadium field soon enough to catch his entire dialogue. Depending on where one was when the doors to the mass interview session opened, it took 10 to 15 minutes to be funneled from the concourse level to the row of podiums.

It took most of the crowd about 15 seconds more to cover the 70 yards to Owens' position, a time Owens himself would be proud of, even if he was working on two fully healthy legs.

By the way, Owens insisted at the very beginning of the session -- his first public comments since he and the Eagles had arrived -- that his leg was just fine, and that he was absolutely going to play Sunday against the Patriots, no matter what the operating surgeon had said.

"I'm here, I'm gonna play, and that's it," he said.

For the next 60 minutes, his mouth never slowed, never lulled anyone to sleep, never failed to engage his audience. He kept the bland cliches to a minimum (with the Patriots eagerly snapping up the leftovers a few hours later in their session).

Owens took on questions about his days as a 49er ("For whatever reason, they thought I was the problem in San Francisco, but like they say, somebody's trash is somebody else's treasure."). He took on a few about the days he never spent as a Raven ("Where is Baltimore at this point, and where am I? ... I don't think I could have gotten the job done in Baltimore under those circumstances.").

He addressed, in one way or another, his imitation of the Ray Lewis dance, his pompom shake, his pose on the star in Dallas, his Sharpie ball-signing and his skit with the Desperate Housewife. He slyly noted that he had something special planned if he scored a touchdown Sunday, and that if anyone was taping the game, "you might miss something if you're on pause."

Overall, he grudgingly acknowledged his controversial nature, and that he knew his attempt to play was being perceived as a selfish grab for attention -- but also that he couldn't do much about it.

"I am who I am. I can't change who I am," Owens said. Later, he added, "Controversy's gonna follow me wherever I go."

His favorite theme, however, was what he believes is the reason he has recovered from major surgery on his right fibula and ankle in barely six weeks, the minimum healing period pronounced at the time of his Week 16 injury.

"I've got the best doctor anybody can have, and that's God," he said.

He continued: "God put me [in the Super Bowl] for a certain reason. I got hurt for a certain reason. I don't think a lot of people understand that. ... He's put me on the biggest stage of my life to show how great He is."

Great, specifically, in getting him on the field Sunday, even while the doctor who performed the surgery at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, Mark Myerson, insists he would not clear him to play. With all due respect to the doctor, Owens said, he is not going to keep him off the field.

Right now, Owens said with a smirk, "I'm 81 percent. On Sunday, I'll be 181 percent."

Coach Andy Reid won't have to ask him if he's ready, he went on: "I think he knows. He saw what I did [in practice]." In fact, he added, the coach had better be prepared to pay off on the long-standing bet over the 15 touchdowns he promised -- the much-feared donning of the tights by the hefty Reid.

"Corey Simon wears about a [size] 5X," he cracked, "and Andy might be a little smaller than Corey." At the podium to his left, Simon, his defensive lineman teammate, shouted, "I heard you over there!"

It was one of at least four times his own teammates interrupted their own media duties to turn their focus to him. He acknowledged each one, and further endeared himself to them by promising, in front of the crowd, to take all the Eagles receivers, including practice-squadders, to Hawaii for next week's Pro Bowl.

After yesterday's virtuoso performance, it was certain where the center ring for the Super Bowl circus was located: wherever Owens was. If anyone had thought he'd display any self-doubt about playing the biggest game of his life with pins and screws in his leg, he dispelled that emphatically.

And those who would doubt the sincerity of his professions of faith got something from him to think about as well. "If you believe in miracles, just wait until Sunday," he said. "Do you believe in God? Read John, chapter 11. It's all about believing."

Chapter 11 in the Gospel according to John is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.


Philadelphia (15 - 3) vs. New England (16 - 2)

6:30 p.m. Sunday

Chs. 45, 5

Line: Patriots by 7

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