If T.O. continues with M.O., Eagles might just tell him to go

Pro Football

August 14, 2005|By KEN MURRAY

LITTLE MORE than a year ago, Terrell Owens refused a trade to Baltimore and fought tenaciously to join Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.

This month, the Eagles' Pro Bowl receiver has done everything in his power to walk all over McNabb on his way out of town.

What's wrong with this picture?

When it comes to Owens, there are no easy explanations. He is an immensely gifted and dedicated athlete. He may be the best receiver in the NFL today. He is a game-changer.

But then he opens his mouth and out tumbles the arrogance, selfishness and childishness that have come to characterize his 10-year career. Calling out Andy Reid, his head coach? Calling McNabb a hypocrite? Telling Brad Childress, his offensive coordinator, not to speak to him unless Owens speaks first?

This is the strategy cooked up by Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to force the Eagles either to renegotiate a contract he signed last year or send him on his way. Suddenly, it's not enough to be T.O., to collect $12.5 million over two years and maybe a Super Bowl ring with it.

No, now Owens wants his money, his fame and his quarterback all on his terms.

Except that this little charade really isn't going to work. Owens isn't going to bully the Eagles. He isn't going to get a new contract - this year, anyway.

As Eagles president Joe Banner said last week, Owens has two choices: play under his existing contract, or sit out the season. And if Owens continues to be a malcontent when he returns to the team on Wednesday, the Eagles can give him the Keyshawn Johnson treatment.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed how to deal with malingerers two years ago when they sent Johnson home in midseason and deactivated him each week. Had they suspended him, Johnson could have grieved the process and potentially won his freedom. The Bucs paid Johnson's salary for the season, then traded him to the Dallas Cowboys. Call it minimal headache.

That's how the Eagles can go if Owens doesn't conform, and it's highly unlikely Owens will ever conform. The Eagles certainly won't pay Owens a $5 million roster bonus, due in March, after all this. So eventually, he'll get his freedom.

The bigger problem for Owens, 31, is, who will want him after he couldn't coexist with Reid and McNabb? What team will give a lavish signing bonus for a player in his 30s who can't get along with anyone - even a player of Owens' prodigious talents?

Owens may not see that, but Rosenhaus should.

This is a game Owens can't win. The Eagles? They've got to beat Drew Bledsoe, Eli Manning and Patrick Ramsey to win the NFC East again. They don't need T.O. to do that.

Back to the future

Speaking of Bledsoe, Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells thinks he can cure the 13-year veteran quarterback of the impulsiveness that led to his undoing with the Buffalo Bills. Parcells drafted Bledsoe in 1993 and coached him four years with the New England Patriots.

"I believe that I can alter that because I know I've had him where he didn't do those things," Parcells said. "Now, you're not going to go through a season and not have a few of them. There's not one quarterback that ever did that. ... It's just when they start wearing you out that you have to stop."

Checking out

It looks more and more like wide receiver Peter Warrick, the fourth pick in the 2000 draft, will be released by the Cincinnati Bengals this summer. Warrick, who missed 12 games in 2004 with a knee injury, is due to make $2.28 million this year and has a salary cap value of $3.69 million.

The Bengals gave T. J. Houshmandzadeh, Warrick's replacement, a four-year, $13 million deal in the offseason, and spent third- and sixth-round picks on receivers Chris Henry and Tab Perry. They don't want to pay $2 million for a No. 4 receiver.

False start

Cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, the sixth pick in the draft, hasn't made a good first impression with the Tennessee Titans because of his holdout and his attitude. On top of that, he's facing two misdemeanor assault charges and a felony vandalism charge from an alleged nightclub incident in July.

"If you look at it, [Jones] has been more in prison than he's been on the practice field," said defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. "He's not going to have any fans in this locker room if he comes in the same way he left as far as the attitude. ... He's got to cover Marvin Harrison, Andre Johnson. He probably couldn't cover our free agents right now."

Scattershooting

The Kansas City Chiefs admit they wore down kick returner Dante Hall last year by playing him more at wide receiver. It caused his return touchdowns to drop from four to two. This year, he'll play only a handful of snaps on offense. ... After giving his starting middle linebacker job to Sam Cowart, the Minnesota Vikings are moving former Maryland star E.J. Henderson to weak-side linebacker to get him on the field. ... Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper got a near-$8 million raise for this season, but still wants his 10-year, $102 million contract to be upgraded after the season. He's scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.5 million in 2006. ... After a 13-day holdout, wide receiver Braylon Edwards hit the Cleveland Browns' depth chart at the bottom, right behind Toledo free agent Lance Moore.

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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