Owens missing final walk-through may mean he's out of running today

February 06, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Terrell Owens has been insisting all week that he will play in the Super Bowl, so where was he yesterday when the Philadelphia Eagles went through their final walk-through before tonight's showdown with the New England Patriots?

Not on the field, where you usually find players who are fit enough to participate. Coach Andy Reid said he held T.O. out of the final practice for precautionary reasons.

That ought to tell you something about Owens' true status for the game. If the Eagles were worried that he might re-injure his ankle in a half-speed non-contact dress rehearsal, they can't be too confident that he'll hold up when some Patriots defensive back tries to kneecap him on a crossing pattern.

Remember, this is the same grumpy New England secondary that Eagles backup receiver Freddie Mitchell dissed last week. So you think they're going to ease up on the Eagles' other wisecracking wide-out?

There has been speculation that Owens has been a decoy all along - that the Eagles never intended to put him on the field, but didn't mind making Patriots coach Bill Belichick burn a little midnight oil preparing for the possibility.

It's also possible that Owens, who participated in about half the plays in practice during the week, just didn't hold up. Reid didn't exactly dismiss that possibility when he was asked if T.O. was suffering from extra soreness in his injured ankle.

"Not necessarily, no," Reid said.

Now, there's a ringing endorsement of the man's physical condition. Reid is either trying to play mind games with the unflappable Belichick or it doesn't look good for T.O., who said earlier last week that there had been divine intervention in the healing process.

Personally, I believe in miracles - the Eagles are here, aren't they? - but I really don't know what to make of all this. Either T.O. isn't playing, or he is playing us all.

While Jacksonville remains sheepish about the way it has been portrayed in the national media, the tourism officials from Detroit are making the most of the situation - handing out wool scarves with their logo on them to Super Bowl media.

"We're embracing the cold," said George Zimmerman of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The Detroit Super Bowl booth is running a video loop showing people enjoying the downtown snow park called the Motown Winter Blast, which includes dog-sledding, snow-shoeing and a 250-foot snow slide among activities that next year's Super Bowl visitors can enjoy.

I guess they're going by the philosophy that if God gives you ice, make ice cream. I'm almost looking forward to it.

Once again, they packed Philadelphia's Wachovia Center on Friday for the annual Wing Bowl, a competitive eating event that has become so popular that the Philadelphia Inquirer article about it on Philly.com received far more page hits than any Super Bowl-related story.

The glutton known as "El Wingador" won the championship for the fifth time, downing 162 chicken wings to regain the title from 99-pound Sonya Thomas before a crowd of 21,000.

For those of you who are wondering, "El Wingador" is a guy named Bill Simmons. I have been able to confirm that Sidney Ponson was not in Philadelphia on Friday.

My favorite story out of Philly was a piece in the Inquirer the other day about a guy who took out a second mortgage to finance his trip to the Super Bowl. Funny, I didn't know you could get a second mortgage on a pickup truck.

Final thought: Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who was big in this column yesterday, didn't just defend the "tough, beer-drinking" fans of Philadelphia, he said they were much better fans than the Patriots faithful "who drink white wine and eat quiche."

Those are fighting words ... and this quiche is great.

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