T.O. says show him the money, but Eagles' silence is golden

On the Ravens

April 22, 2005|By MIKE PRESTON

MAYBE PHILADELPHIA Eagles receiver Terrell Owens can learn a lesson on how to be silent, professional and effective from Ravens safety Ed Reed, who has two years remaining on his contract. Reed, who is expected to make $581,250 this season, was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.

According to team sources, he has privately let team officials know he wants a new deal and has let it be known that he might not show up at training camp on time if he doesn't get one.

But Owens can't work that way. He has rapped his quarterback, fired his agent who was his "friend," and denied he was greedy even though he was trying to renegotiate a contract that was only a year old. He had to hire gunslinger sports agent Drew Rosenhaus, whose love for the cameras is surpassed only by Owens.

You have to love the way the Eagles' organization handled Owens. They didn't say a word.

Nothing.

They didn't say they were going to rework his deal. They didn't say they would trade him. They just let that big mouth that roars roar, and now the only thing left is for Owens to hold out of camp.

Big deal. Veterans like Owens don't do a lot in training camp anyway (see Deion Sanders). Owens has no leverage because the Eagles have already proved that his presence doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl victory.

He can't win the public relations war with the fans because he publicly took a shot at star quarterback Donovan McNabb last week.

So, all the Eagles have to do is be quiet, pat their feet and whistle. If he doesn't play, he doesn't get paid any of the $3.25 million he is expected to make in 2005. If he doesn't show up, they'll get to the NFC championship game and lose.

Been there, done that.

Actually, you can understand Owens' desire to renegotiate the seven-year contract worth almost $49 million he agreed to in March 2004. He was the driving force behind the Eagles' Super Bowl run, catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.

With Owens coming off major surgery on his right ankle at age 31, the window of opportunity for more big paydays is closing. Unlike his pro baseball and basketball counterparts, there is no guaranteed money. If Owens tore up his knee this season and the Eagles cut him, that's it.

Owens is making a good business decision, but he is choosing a poor way to communicate. He can't comb his hair without calling SportsCenter.

Owens had won the hearts of the Philly fans with his remarkable comeback and nine-catch, 122-yard effort in the Eagles' 24-21 Super Bowl loss to New England. But he started losing that support when Rosenhaus asked the fans how they would feel if they had been under-compensated.

Hmmm. Owens collected a $9 million signing bonus last season. During the first three years of his deal, he will average $6 million. The average worker can't relate. Worse, in a published interview last week, Owens said he wasn't greedy or selfish for asking for more money.

Excuse me.

Then why did Owens have to refer to McNabb as the "guy who got tired in the Super Bowl?" He sold out the man who was on the end of all of those passes he caught last season. It's one thing to ask for a new contract, another to take shots at your teammates to make yourself look better.

Owens was on a public relations roll. With such a great performance in the Super Bowl, some people had started to forgive him for once dancing on the Dallas Cowboys logo at midfield, or pulling out a Sharpie to autograph a football after a touchdown, or grabbing pompoms from a cheerleader to celebrate.

That was until last week. You have to be glad he didn't play here last season. The Ravens had enough chemistry problems. T.O. would have destroyed the confidence of a young quarterback like Kyle Boller.

He would be stirring it up now in an offseason that has been quiet. There are no drug allegations surrounding Jamal Lewis. The Ravens have cut cornerback Corey Fuller, so the team doesn't have to be concerned about illegal card games or shootouts in Fuller's old neighborhood. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs hasn't crashed a car lately, and the player nicknamed "The Black Sheep," Chris McAlister, has been the ideal player living in Baltimore for offseason workouts.

ConAir, the official airline of the Ravens, has been grounded. Meanwhile, coach Brian Billick is trying to re-establish the team unity he let slip away last season. The Ravens would be a mess with Owens around. He's loud and arrogant, while the Eagles are being silent and forceful. It's a great contrast of a team under control, and a player out of it.

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