Owens is out

Eagles say he won't be back

Reid cites repeated warnings

November 08, 2005|By KEN MURRAY | KEN MURRAY,SUN REPORTER

In 21 months together, the Philadelphia Eagles sampled Terrell Owens' extraordinary talent and his egomaniac personality in liberal doses.

Yesterday, they decided the egomania outweighed his rare set of skills and called off the relationship.

The bitter end came when coach Andy Reid announced the mercurial wide receiver will not rejoin the team this season. The hangover, however, will linger.

Still to be determined is whether the defending NFC champions are better off without the playmaking Owens. In the aftermath of a 17-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday night, quarterback Donovan McNabb suggested as much.

Reid seemed to agree with his quarterback when he stepped gingerly around the details of Owens' dismissal.

Asked if the atmosphere around the Eagles on Sunday helped him arrive at his decision, Reid said:

"I can't get into all of that. I can tell you that we are taking a step in the right direction with the atmosphere we had [Sunday]."

Reid said Owens will serve a four-game suspension without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, and then will be inactive for the Eagles' final five games of the season.

Four weeks is the most the Eagles can suspend Owens for detrimental conduct. Making him inactive for the final month is copying a strategy implemented by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they sent malcontent Keyshawn Johnson home for the final six games of 2003 - with pay.

"I do want it to be clear that this decision is a result of a large number of situations that accumulated over a long period of time, during which Terrell had been warned repeatedly about the consequences of his actions," Reid said, reading from a statement.

"Even with the activities that took place last week, we gave Terrell every opportunity to avoid this outcome."

Reid assumed a legal posture - and offered no details - because, he said, the NFL Players Association will file a grievance to contest the Eagles' right to suspend Owens.

There was no immediate response from Owens or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who launched this sequence of events last summer when he petitioned the Eagles for a new contract for Owens.

According to the Associated Press, Owens summoned police to his Moorestown, N.J., home last night after a group of people gathered on his property. Through police at the scene, Owens said he wanted to be left alone and would contact the news media when he was ready to comment.

In less than 10 full NFL seasons, Owens, 31, has cultivated a reputation as a lightning rod for controversy, although he has not been known to break any laws or fail any drug tests. He has burned bridges in San Francisco, where he spent eight seasons with the 49ers, and now Philadelphia.

Along the way, he scalded quarterbacks on both coasts. With the 49ers, he complained vociferously about Jeff Garcia. With the Eagles, he seemed to resent McNabb's popularity and position of authority. After last year's Super Bowl loss, he criticized McNabb for being tired in the huddle in the fourth quarter.

Since then, Owens has been relentless in assailing McNabb's character. In an interview with ESPN.com last week, he said he agreed with ESPN analyst Michael Irvin that the Eagles would probably be unbeaten if they had Brett Favre at quarterback.

Owens also said the team lacked class for failing to recognize the 100th touchdown catch of his career in an Oct. 23 game against the San Diego Chargers.

Owens also was involved in a scuffle with former defensive end Hugh Douglas in the team's training room last week.

McNabb, who has played with a painful sports hernia all season, has been slow to respond to Owens' barbs. But after the loss to the Redskins, he endorsed a separation.

"Obviously, it is tough losing a guy of his caliber, his ability, but I think we might be better off," McNabb said.

"I think what we did tonight, we showed that we played well together. I think we also showed that when given the opportunity, guys can make plays for us. We're 4-4. We're not 1-7. I think that's the way to look at it. For the guys in the locker room, we win together and we lose together."

The suspension will cost Owens an estimated $800,000 on a contract that was to pay him $3.25 million this season. He is due a $5 million roster bonus in March 2006, but will be released before then.

If he's released, there certainly will be suitors for his prodigious talent.

What kind of coach would take a chance on the narcissistic Owens after he couldn't coexist with Reid or McNabb?

"Someone that has extreme confidence in themselves," said Ron Wolf, former general manager with the Green Bay Packers. "I'm sure there's going to be somebody who'd do it."

Asked if he would have taken on a player with Owens' baggage, Wolf said, "That's probably why I'm not in it. That would be hard for me to do that. Early in my career, it wouldn't have been hard."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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