By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

There's a voice that lives inside his head. It talks to him. It tells him things. It transforms him, shapes him. Some say that there's a difference between Terrell Owens and the person we know as T.O. Two different people living inside one ultracut, Adonis-like body. But for those of us who follow him, we know different. We know to decipher Terrell Owens we have to get inside his voice. The voice that drives him when the humble side of him really wants to take over. The voice has become the star, the power broker, the newsmaker, the alter to his enormous ego. A powerful thang, this voice. So powerful there is a belief that he no longer can control it because it now controls him. Even more than Drew Rosenhaus does. On the eve of NFL training camp, with him about to honor his third contract in four years, we can only imagine what that voice inside T.O. must be saying …

THE VOICE
Here we go … been waiting for this for eight months, baby! The hate that hate produced, produced the wrong dude. Lemme get some more crunches in.

It's T.O. time, baby! Training camp! I got everything out of the way. All work done. Book's out, did Gumbel, SI tried to put the jinx on me, now all I got to do is go out and watch the people start to hate me all over again. Salvage.

Bad press beats no press, that's what Gran'ma said. "As long as they talkin' 'bout you, baby, that means you on they mind."

But watch how I flip this, just like two years ago when they all hated me. By the time the Super Bowl was over, dude, they all loved me. And they was wondering why I kept bumpin' Nas and Puff's song in the offseason.

(singing) "You can hate me now!"

Damn, it's hot here. They told me Texas was going to be hot, but this is crazy. But not as hot as I'm about to make it. Oxnard, Cali, ain't never seen no one like me b'fore. Look at all them tents out there … media, waitin'. I gotta prove all them wrong. Can't make 'em eat they words, but I can make 'em swallow 'em.

Look at them out there … vultures. Just waiting for me to do something, say something. Waiting to misunderstand me all over again. I tried to make Bryant Gumbel understand, that's why I sat down with the dude. But he was all on me. Talking to me like I was one of his kids or something.

I shoulda leaned over and Jim Everett'd his butt. Tryin' to make it look like I was in some therapy session. Like he's Dr. Phil. Dude, please. I give him credit, though; he did get me to admit that I was wrong about the Jeff Garcia thing and what I did in Frisco. But he wasn't gonna get me to take the blame or apologize about McNabb. That wasn't gonna happen and never will. I know the real, I know what went down.

And why that Itch don't wanna talk now? Why he decide to get quiet? All during the Super Bowl in Detroit, he had something to say. What he say, what he call it, "black-on-black crime"? And now, he lip-locked. "No comment."

Terrell Owens interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live"

Then when he does talk, he calls my book a "children's book." See. See …

But don't nobody else see what I'm seeing. Where I'm from in Tennessee, that's a punk's move. Something girls do. That's why they ain't never gonna win a ring. Not with him there. I can't wait till October 8th. When they ask me, I'ma say I wish the organization well, but for real, I hope they never win another game. Ever. All they had to do is give me what I was worth to them, and none of this would have happened. None of this. I'da still been in that uniform. Ballin'. Woulda won the Bowl. Pittsburgh couldn'ta handled us. Everyone knows that. The Steelers know that.

But instead, the Eagles wanted to prove a point. Not pay me but give Brian Westbrook a $25 million contract extension in the middle of the season the week after he ran for a total of 124 yards in five games. And they wonder why I called them "classless."

But I did go too far with that comment. (laugh) That was straight foul. I knew I was going to pay for that once it came out of my mouth. But what the hell. That's how I was feeling. Drew warned me. But why should I have listened to him? I probably would have played last season if it wasn't for him. Man, that dude … but he did get me my money. This $25 million from Dallas ain't bad.

It's a start. And like Drew said, "If we win the Bowl, the price goes up. Back to the negotiations." I just gotta make sure he doesn't appear on Jim Rome's show or "PTI" before he sits down with the Cowboys. He needs to chill with that. Messin' with my money. Costing me almost $20 million.

Wait. Where's that girl's number I did that photo shoot last year with in GQ? Stay focused, Terrell. Football, dude, football. On a show-and-prove mission this season. Tryna stay focused, stay right. 'Bout to get married. Felisha, dude. Felisha. But damn, honey from GQ was fine. Need to find that issue. See how I made her look good.

Where are my shoes?

More crunches …

People keep thinking this is my last shot. Why? Don't they know?!? Can't no one in the League do what I do. Not Randy, not Chad, not Marvin, not Hines, none of them dudes … and they know it, too.

I could screw up again -- not saying that I did the first two times, but I'm just saying -- and still get another contract from another team. I know this, and so does every GM in the League.

But I'm not going to test it. Not this year, maybe not the next. Too many of them vultures are waiting for me to do that. I'm not going to give them that satisfaction. Like I said, I'm going to "shut it down. Stop talking."

Wait. Mental note: I need to call Jason Rosenhaus, talk to him about the misquote in the book. I hate when people take what I say to make me sound stupid. Like I ain't read my own book. All I said was that when the word "heroic" was used, it was used in the wrong context. That's all. Now I know I said "misquoted," but that's not what I meant. See, at the time, when I said "my performance in the Super Bowl was nothing short of heroic," the war thing wasn't like it is now … and I'm not trying to go out like the Dixie Chicks … but I was heroic in that game. I don't care what anyone says. The Eagles should have recognized.

But it's all good, like Gran'ma said: Everything happens for a reason. God wanted me in Dallas. Too many years gone by with stars on their helmets but none on the field. I tried to let them know when I stood on the Star in 2000. But they wasn't tryna feel me then. Now, they get it. They better get it. They ain't got no choice. I mean Keyshawn, he's a beast, but c'mon. He ain't me. If he had had half the season that I'm about to have, Terry Glenn's numbers would have doubled and Julius Jones would have played like his brother Thomas did with the Bears last year.

I make this game easy for other players. That's why my teammates love me. That's why none of them ran to Donovan's side when everything was going down. I only played seven games last year, but I still led the League in yards per game -- by 9 yards per! I'm the one who gets everyone career years. Like Steve Nash.

But they don't want to get that; no one wants to print that. Instead, they call me a "cancer" to every team I play for. If I'm a "cancer," why when I leave do these teams sink to the bottom of the league? Why once I left the 49's did they become the worst team in the NFL? Why last year did Philly not even make the playoffs? And watch what happens to the Eagles this year. They're going to be worse.

But still I'm the cancer. Whatever. All that's about to change. Everything. Jus' watch.

Wait. Where's my earring? That's $40g. Can't lose that.

Ha. It's funny didn't no one catch on. Drew was right. Same thing as last year. I got the entire country's attention to jump-start the season. These fools don't learn. If they was smart, they would have peeped this from the very start, last week. The minute the book came out, the minute "Real Sports" dropped, the minute the SI joint hit the stands. They should have looked at the correlation of the dates, the timing, and realized how we had this planned. Not even coach Parcells said anything. Damn, I hope it's this easy the rest of the season.

USA Today on Friday printed the top nine questions about the NFL coming into the season. Guess who was No. 1? They can call me whatever they want, but I'm a marketing genius. And Drew is only one step behind me. Art Shell is back coaching the Raiders with Randy Moss; Daunte Culpepper is in Miami and maybe fighting for his job against Joey Harrington; Herm Edwards goes to coach the Chiefs; Edge leaves Nap; McNair goes to Baltimore; Vinatieri leaves New England … and I'm still the No. 1 question coming into the season …

And they say I'm crazy, stupid, ignorant and dumb. Selfish, conceited, self-absorbed. They say I'm worse than Barry and Kobe combined. They say the world hates me.

Cool. I will shed no more tears over this, miss no more sleep. Not for them. Not for no one. Not anymore. There will be no "new" Terrell Owens, just refined. Refocused. I'm just trying to make everyone understand that it's them, not me. Never has been me. I'm innocent of everything, done nothing wrong, wronged nobody. I'm not who they think I am, who they've made me out to be. I'm just misunderstood.

Wait. Look at those tents. It's time. Time to go. Time to be T.O. Day 1. Ready for some football. Salvage.

I'm gonna make them love me, like I do. That's what I'ma do, dude. I'm gonna make 'em all love me.

Scoop Jackson is a national columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. He has a weekly segment on "Cold Pizza" and is a regular forum guest on "Rome Is Burning." He resides in Chicago. Sound off to Scoop and Page 2 here.




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THE VOICE