Stick a microphone in front of Terrell Owens and fireworks often ensue.

That was the case Thursday night when ESPN.com contributor Graham Bensinger sat down with the controversial Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver at Owens' home in Moorestown, N.J. Owens discussed his tumultuous summer, his relationship with Donovan McNabb, his performance in the Super Bowl, his contract situation, his future and many of the headlines from his past.

Here are video highlights and an edited transcript of the 57-minute interview:

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FROM ESPN.COM'S INTERVIEW WITH TO
Owens talks with ESPN.com contributor Graham Bensinger about ...

ESPN Motion The Super Bowl: People take the things I say out of context

ESPN Motion Contract talks: Somebody's got to win, somebody's got to lose

ESPN Motion Donovan McNabb: We'd be in a better situation [with Favre]

ESPN Motion Touchdown celebrations: I just go out there and try to have fun

ESPN Motion His Super Bowl regrets: Putting career on the line

ESPN Motion Achieving success: Sometimes the truth hurts

ESPN Motion Media attention: It's almost like I'm in a no-win situation with the media


 
Graham Bensinger: I've known you for a few years now. I can see (the strain) in your face. I could see it in the offseason, and I can see it now. Are you happy?

Terrell Owens: Yeah, I mean, right now, there have been some ups and downs. But overall, I think the things that have gone on, I put them in the back of my mind. I've put those things on the shelf, and when I go out there on the field, I try to have fun. But, yeah, overall, I would say that I'm pretty happy.

GB: Enjoying the season?

TO: Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, our record (4-3) really doesn't indicate the caliber (of) team that we are. But, we're maybe just a few plays here and there from really being like 6-1, something like that. But, you know, we really got our butts whooped down in Dallas. So, I think that's the only real whooping that we took. So, at this stage, we're 4-3, about to go into (a stretch of) divisional play -- the Redskins, the Giants and the Cowboys. We've got those guys coming up, so we're still in the hunt.

GB: You seem to have gone from enjoying the media attention, the hype, the craze, to completely secluding yourself from it. Why?

Terrell Owens
Getty
Despite not being cleared by doctors, Terrell Owens returned to play in the Super Bowl.

TO: Well, it's almost like I'm in a no-win situation with the media sometimes. ... You know, I know how the media is. I know how TV works. They'll throw a question out there and they'll edit it. You know, the way they want to put it out there to the world. So, my thing is I just to let my play do the talking for me, and that has been my stance this year.

GB: What's the biggest difference between Terrell Owens now and the Terrell Owens of one year ago?

TO: I just feel like I've learned a lot as far as the business side of football. It really hit home how dirty and cruel of a business that this is. Everybody always says that this is a fun game (and) that it is. But behind the scenes, it's a real dirty game. I mean, in my situation, I think there are a lot of people who can vouch for me when I say that, "Yeah, I deserve the money that I was asking for." And, I've seen so many guys that have gone and come in this league, you know, for no apparent reason at all. I've seen guys come in one week and they (get) cut the next. Or come in here for a couple of days and (they're) cut the next. So, it's a cutthroat business. I had to really not fool myself into thinking that there is loyalty with the franchises of these teams. ... I'm very reluctant to trust people now when they say things. And you just have to take a business approach to things, that's how it goes.

GB: What makes you successful?

TO: My determination, my drive. The way that I was raised -- just keeping my family and my grandmother at heart. I just try to put herself in my situation at times, almost like what would she do in this situation, or what would she not do? So, my family is very dear to me. When I came out of college in '96 and I had to do all those combine workouts, they were motivation enough for me ... (to) impress those scouts to have the best time or ace the shuttle drills and all those things. So, my family is very important to me, and I know they look up to me. So, if I'm successful in anything, success breeds success.

Even if it wasn't a contractual situation, I still have to be smart about my body. I mean, that was the same approach that I took when I got hurt prior to playing in the playoffs or in the Super Bowl. So my approach is still the same. If I can get out there and play, then I will play. But, I'm not going to risk my career or my health at the expense of the Eagles.
TO on whether his injury has changed his approach on the field

GB: If the Eagles win and you don't rack up the numbers statistically, are you satisfied?

TO: Yeah, I mean, that's the name of the game. Honestly, it's wins and losses when it all boils down to it. And, that's how I look at it. I always said that, even when I was in San Francisco. I just said as long as we're winning, I don't have a problem with it. But if we're not winning and I'm not getting the ball enough, that's when I have a problem. Because it doesn't matter statistically. I feel like with me being a big part of any offense, then the numbers are going to come. ... I think at some point during the course of the game, I will have an impact -- whether it's blocking or whether it's catching the football.

GB: What do you need from your team, or your teammates, to enable you to achieve success?

TO: Well, obviously, in my situation the quarterback is a big part of my success. I think it goes hand-in-hand. Obviously, a quarterback that has the weapons like Donovan has with this team -- with me, LJ (Smith) and Brian Westbrook -- obviously that helps him to be a better quarterback. ...

GB: What's your relationship like with your teammates?

TO: We have fun. Every day, it's interesting. ... (In the training room), we have a lot of fun doing just different games in there. Even with rehab, there are a lot of games that we play that are competitive, but it coincides with our rehab. And (it's) the same with a lot of guys on the team. We have a lot of guys sitting back in the lounge that play Halo. Me and (Greg) Lewis and Hank Fralee, we play dominos. So, a lot of guys do different things.

GB: Why do you think there were some who were not as supportive of you?

TO: They probably felt like (if) they said something, (it) will put them in an awkward situation where they may get cut if they say the wrong thing. I kind of put them behind the eight ball, so to speak. And, so, some guys were supportive of me. But (others) just didn't feel it was necessary, or that they had the authority to speak up on my behalf.

GB: Has there been something (you've) said or done over the past year that you regret?

TO: No, not at all. I think the thing is, I know deep down inside that I've always been honest, and I've been truthful about the things that I've said. Like the saying goes, sometimes the truth hurts. And, a lot of people don't like to hear the truth. So, as long as I'm honest with myself, I can live with it.

GB: You just said that following the Super Bowl, you obviously said that you weren't the only one, or you weren't the one that got tired, in referring to Donovan McNabb. Do you think your honesty becomes detrimental at times?

I said it probably in regards to my own conditions because I hadn't practiced with the team since my injury. I never referred to Donovan in that comment. A lot of people speculated, and they just assumed that I was talking about Donovan. That's not what I mean, and that's not what I meant. A lot of people, take a lot of things that I say out of context. If I didn't say his name in particular, then I wasn't talking about him.
TO, denying he was criticizing Donovan when he said he wasn't the one who got tired in the Super Bowl

TO: No, not at all. I think with that comment, I said it probably in regards to my own conditions because I hadn't practiced with the team since my injury. I never referred to Donovan in that comment. A lot of people speculated, and they just assumed that I was talking about Donovan. That's not what I mean, and that's not what I meant. A lot of people, take a lot of things that I say out of context. If I didn't say his name in particular, then I wasn't talking about him.

GB: And, that's why, then, you're reluctant to do some of the interviews because people ...

TO: Exactly.

GB: ... take things out of context. What was it like for you, playing in the Super Bowl last season?

TO: What I was doing and what I experienced was bigger than the Super Bowl. Number one, I was just exercising my faith in God that I could go out there and do the impossible -- according to a lot of the media, according to the world. But I had a lot of people who supported me, and I had a lot of confidence that I was doing the right thing. I know my body better than anything, better than anybody. The doctor who performed my surgery didn't medically clear me. Despite all that, I still went ahead and went out and played because I knew I was ready to play. Although I wasn't 100 percent, I knew I was a percentile that I could go out there and be effective.

GB: What was it like for you going out there on Super Bowl Sunday?

TO: It was fun. I've always envisioned myself, since I was in San Francisco, of a moment when I played in the Super Bowl. It was almost like I had been there before, because I've always kind of played it in my mind before. You know, I've been to the Super Bowl (city) before, and I've never gone to the game. But I've always been there in that atmosphere. So, I've always said, if I ever get that moment, that I was going to try to shine, and I was going to try to play to the best of my ability.

GB: You did all right.

TO: I didn't do bad. Like I said, I probably could have been a little bit more effective had I been 100 percent healthy.

GB: You've never won a championship at any level. Not in high school, not in college, not yet in the NFL. What was it like to be that close against the Patriots?

TO: It was an interesting feeling. It was very exciting, you know. After it was over, it was just, you know ... After playing nine years in the league, some guys have played this game all their life, and they've never gotten to that point. So, I didn't take it for granted. ... Whatever I could do, I left it on the field. I played hard. We just came up short. I think there are opportunities that we had to win the ballgame, and you know, we played a great team, and a great team beat us. I don't feel like it was a cakewalk (for New England). We took it to the wire with them.

GB: Any lasting damage from the injury?

TO: No, not at all. I think I've recovered from it 100 percent, and I've spent most of my offseason rehabbing and getting treatment and trying to get it back to the point where I can perform this year. And, so, I haven't had any effects of it.

What I was doing and what I experienced was bigger than the Super Bowl. Number one, I was just exercising my faith in God that I could go out there and do the impossible -- according to a lot of the media, according to the world.
TO on playing in the Super Bowl

GB: You say you regret playing in that Super Bowl. Why?

TO: I would say just from the reasons of me putting my career on the line, and then my agent (Drew Rosenhaus) going in, trying to get what I deserve, as far as my contractual situation. Obviously, he thought I deserved more once he looked over my contract from my former agent. You know, I've always felt that way and I have made that top value, being one of the top guys in the league. So, I just felt like it was worth it. (Then) I just felt disrespected when they didn't even acknowledge him at all. ... They kind of just blew it off.

GB: You've also said the Eagles made you sign this secret waiver, essentially barring them from any responsibility if you were injured. They adamantly deny it. Take me through what happened.

Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens
Owens says Donovan McNabb's injuries have hurt the Eagles this season.

TO: Well, like I said, I know there was a waiver that we talked about. Obviously, they're saying they have no knowledge of it. So, it's not something phantom that I've made up. So, if they're saying that just to save face, then you know, that's what they have to live with.

GB: Why do you think they have to deny it?

TO: Not sure, not sure. But why would I openly say that I signed a waiver? Because it would have released them of any reliability, had I gotten hurt in the Super Bowl, because number one, the doctor didn't medically clear me. So, if anything would have happened, they wouldn't have been responsible for it.

GB: Is that frustrating for you that the organization almost tries to make you out to be the villain?

TO: Well, I mean, I've said it, and I've heard it. If you align expectations with reality, then you'll never be disappointed. So, this particular time and point in my career, and things that have happened since training camp ... you know, I expected worse.

GB: You said you always have a passion to win, but sometimes that passion is misdiagnosed by people. How so?

TO: There are a number of ways -- even just the way that I score touchdowns and I celebrate. At one particular point in time, especially in San Francisco, I remember commentators saying I should just get in the end zone and act like I had been there before. And probably because I had played with one of the greatest receivers of all time in Jerry Rice, and that's what he did, and they always talked about Barry (Sanders) scoring so many touchdowns, and he doesn't do anything. But, now you know, I have a good friend in Chad Johnson who does it. And now it's like, everybody is applauding it. You know what I mean? So, it's almost like I feel like sometimes it's me against the world.

GB: You just recently scored your 100th career receiving touchdown, which puts you in remarkably elite company with only you and Marvin Harrison as the two active players to have accomplished the feat. What does it mean for you?

TO: I didn't really think too much of it. Obviously, it's a great accomplishment. I guess if I look down the road some time, I'll look back on it and and see how special it is. But to me, it was just another touchdown. You know, I expect to score every week ...

It's almost like I feel like sometimes it's me against the world.
TO on his philosophy on life

GB: Obviously, it's not necessary, but everybody likes to be complimented, everyone likes to be congratulated for accomplishing something. And you did something that only five players in the history of the NFL have done. So, how surprised were you then when the Eagles just made no public acknowledgement of it?

TO: Probably just like the statement that I said a while ago: If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed. You know, their reaction shows you the type of class and integrity of an organization that they claim not to be. You know, they claim to be first class and the best organization. I just felt like it was an embarrassment. It just shows the lack of class that they had. My publicist talked to the head PR guy, and he made an excuse about (how) they didn't recognize it, or they didn't realize that it was coming up. But I know that was a blatant lie. If it would have been somebody else, they probably would have popped fireworks around the stadium. ...

Terrell Owens
Getty
Owens says it was an "embarrassment" when the Eagles failed to recognize his 100th career TD catch.

GB: What do you make of the Eagles' 4-3 start this season?

TO: I think a lot of the injuries have played a big part in some of our losses. I just feel that if Donovan wasn't hurt as he was, our record probably would indicate we were better.

GB: Donovan has obviously had trouble throwing, especially deep. He didn't complete any of his first 12 passes vs. Denver. How has that affected the team?

TO: Well, obviously I think our wins and losses are really predicated on how he plays. I just feel like, you know, everybody can point fingers at our defense, but it doesn't matter. Even when we were 28 (points) down, I still had in the back of my mind that we could come back -- had our offense gotten in sync. I just honestly feel with playmakers like myself, LJ (Smith), and obviously Brian Westbrook, that we could have gotten back in the game. And that we did. You know, like I said, it's hard to win ballgames when you have turnovers, and we had a turnover right when we were about to go into probably tie the game. That killed our momentum, and it killed our drive.

GB: Your friend Michael Irvin recently said that if Brett Favre was the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, they'd be undefeated right now. What do you think of that comment?

I just felt like it was an embarrassment. It just shows the lack of class that they had.
TO on the Eagles' failure to recognize his 100th career TD catch

TO: I mean, that's a good assessment, I would agree with that.

GB: How so?

TO: I just feel like just what he brings to the table ... I mean he's the guy. Obviously, a number of commentators will say he's a warrior. He has played with injuries. I just feel like (with) him being knowledgeable about the quarterback position, I just feel like we'd be in a better situation.

GB: With your ankle injury, will you play Sunday night against the Washington Redskins?

TO: Yeah. At this particular time, I will say that I'm closer to playing than not (playing). Where earlier in the week, Monday, Tuesday, I kind of basically ruled myself out. I'm kind of mad at myself, because I'm a very confident person, and I didn't give myself a chance. That was early in the week, and within the last 24 to 48 hours, I've felt tons better. And, I think my healing comes from obviously, number one, God, and just the way that I take care of my body.

GB: Has the Eagles' reluctance to renegotiate your contract (made) you less willing to play hurt?

TO: No, not at all. But at the same time, I still have to be smart. Even if it wasn't a contractual situation, I still have to be smart about my body. I mean, that was the same approach that I took when I got hurt prior to playing in the playoffs or in the Super Bowl. So my approach is still the same. If I can get out there and play, then I will play. But, I'm not going to risk my career or my health at the expense of the Eagles.

GB: What do the Eagles need to do to get back on track?

TO: There's nothing the Eagles need to do in particular. I just feel like, obviously, injuries have taken a toll -- especially on the offensive side of the ball. And Donovan, obviously, is a key component to our success and our wins and losses. And if he doesn't play well, sometimes it's kind of hard when we're going three-and-out as an offense, and we're putting the defense on the field -- like short minutes at a time, and obviously they can't sustain those long drives and teams are scoring back-to-back on us.

GB: I've always wanted to hear this from TO. Your theory of "If you got it, flaunt it."

TO: It's basically just being confident in who you are. It's like if you and I were in a contest or we were going out to the beach, you would probably be reluctant to take your shirt off. Right, but in my case, I work out, I feel like I have a nice body, then I wouldn't have a problem taking my shirt off. I have a number of friends who tell me if they had my body they would probably walk around naked. So that's basically where that comes from. You just got to be confident in who you are, and don't let anybody say or tell you anything different.

GB: Take me through the process of coming up with a touchdown celebration.

Terrell Owens
When you carry a Sharpie in your sock, you're definitely thinking ahead.

TO: Some of them are spur of the moment, and sometimes during the course of the week I try to think of some things that are creative. And, whatever comes to mind, if I feel like it's going to be within the confines of the celebration rules, then I do it. If not, it really depends on the game. Like last week when I scored a touchdown but (it was an) inopportune time for me to be celebrating.

GB: How much time do you spend coming up with them?

TO: Not too much at all. I could be driving home and if I'm thinking about it, then I will try to come up with something. Or, if I'm in the locker room and I'm playing Dominos and messing around with some of the guys or we get on the subject of celebrations when we see highlights. Guys will start chiming in and start talking about different things and that's when my mind starts to work a little bit.

GB: Do you practice them beforehand?

TO: No, not really. If it's something simple, it's just something that you can do right on the spot.

GB: Never?

TO: No, I haven't.

GB: Your favorite?

TO: Probably with the pom-poms. And probably second, everybody liked the Ray Lewis. So, other than that I just go out there and try to have fun and try (to) go be creative.

GB: The one you haven't yet done that you'd like to.

Terrell Owens
Getty
When Owens hits the end zone, he usually has something special planned.

TO: I don't know yet. I haven't thought about it, but I got a couple up my sleeve. But they'll come out.

GB: You've told me that the NFL's very contradictory in its touchdown celebration regulations in that you play as a team, yet you can't celebrate as a team. Your thoughts on the rules?

TO: They allow us to celebrate individually. I think if I could celebrate with my teammates and come up with some group things, then that's what I would do. But, unfortunately, according to the rules, I have to celebrate by myself. So, I think that's where a lot of people can look at me and say I'm selfish and that I'm (not) celebrating with my teammates, but I can't. You know, some people are just not up to par with the rules of the NFL.

GB: Jerry Rice once told you, as you stated in your book, "At some point you're going to have to learn to be politically correct, give in and give them what they want." What do you think of that?

TO: Regardless of the situation, I'm a person who is going to be honest and straight up and I'm just going to tell you, sometimes, the brutal honest truth. So, I understand where it's coming from, but I don't think it has really helped him in any situations to be politically correct. Because I feel like, if that was the case, then he probably would have retired a Niner. Even after going to a couple of teams, they would have given him the opportunity to retire as a 49er. But, unfortunately, being politically correct all his career didn't cut it.

GB: How so?

TO: I think they would have given him the opportunity to retire as a 49er. And I think that's what he wanted to do once he got cut from Denver.

GB: How do you think the Eagles organization would have responded if your desire for more money hadn't gone more public?

TO: I'm not sure. I think at some point it would have gone public. I think guys have taken the silent route and still haven't gotten contracts. I think that was the same situation with Brian Westbrook. According to some sources, that's the approach that David Akers tried to take. Neither one of those guys have gotten their contracts resolved, either. And they took the silent route. So who's to say which route is better than the other? We're all in the same boat.

I'm just going to play the season out. I'm going to go out there and let my play do the talking for me. I'm done with the contract situation until we have no more games to play.
TO on when he'll revisit the contract situation

GB: When do you plan to revisit the contract?

TO: It will be an issue after the season. I'm just going to play the season out. I'm going to go out there and let my play do the talking for me. I'm done with the contract situation until we have no more games to play.

GB: Jeremiah Trotter recently said on WUIP radio that the way the Eagles handled contract disputes with veterans affects the way players viewed the organization. Your thoughts?

TO: I can agree with that. If you look at the number of veteran guys who have tried to re-do their deals and probably end their careers with the Eagles, it hasn't been done. Think about it -- Troy Vincent, Duce Staley, Corey Simon, Bobby Taylor. I'm sure all of these guys would have done that. Even Hugh Douglas, he was a big critic of mine to say that I didn't go about the situation the right way. And here's a guy who was trying to get more money out of the organization, they cut him, and he went down to Jacksonville to make more money. He didn't make it there. Look where he ended back up. Right back in Philly, man. And, he only lasted a year here. Now he's out of football.

GB: How does this all play out for you?

TO: Like I tell everybody since I've been here, I'm just here. That's just my attitude, I'm just here. I think I'm doing all the necessary things that I'm supposed to do. I'm being professional, I'm going out there and I practice hard, I'm at my meetings. That's it; you should go out there and play.

GB: Do you feel, though, it's almost gotten to the point of no return?

TO: Point of no return as far as what?

GB: In the sense that everyone knows where you are, your stance, everyone knows where the Eagles are, their stance, and no one's going to budge.

TO: Somebody's going to have to budge sooner or later.

GB: Not you, though?

TO: Somebody got to win. Somebody got to lose.

GB: You previously told me you need to do what's best for yourself, and not worry about anyone else. And you need to do what's in the best interest of your family. Explain where you're coming from.

TO: Growing up in a single-parent family I reflect to the times of my mother having two and three jobs and raising four kids. She's a seamstress, she's sewing, doing odd jobs, just to make ends meet. Those are the types of things that I think about -- the hard work that she went through for us as kids. Right now, I'm not married, I have two kids, so I have to do what's best for my family. I think it's misconstrued -- I think Howard Eskin may have said something that I'm not making enough money to put food on my table. That's not the point. He's on the radio making it seem like I'm making all this money. Yeah, I am, but with the contractual situation that I'm in, nothing is really guaranteed but my signing bonus. Anybody can look at my contract and see seven years, $49 or $48-point whatever million. I'm not guaranteed that money. It's not like $49 million is in my bank account. I'm only getting my base salary, plus my signing bonus.

That's what a lot of people don't understand. Fans are being passionate, obviously they want the best for their team. And if I'm one of the best athletes who's going to get the team to that next level, then obviously I feel their frustration when they feel that I may slip away, that I don't want to play for that team. But it's not about that. I love to play here in Philly. But I feel I'm one of the top guys, just like anybody working in the work force. If you work in a corporate job, if you're working at the top echelon of your group, then you expect to get paid like that. And I'm not.

Why would you be satisfied, especially when I know what I've done in the offseason, the toll that I've taken on my body, things that I've done to stay on the field. When I've gotten injured, when I've had to go to doctors in the offseason the last three years. I've had to take countless number of shots just to rehab, just to get my body ready for the next season.

GB: Some people would even listen to that, whether it be your fans or others, and say, you know, why isn't he just satisfied with it? What would you say to those people?

TO: Why would you be satisfied, especially when I know what I've done in the offseason, the toll that I've taken on my body, things that I've done to stay on the field. When I've gotten injured, when I've had to go to doctors in the offseason the last three years. I've had to take countless number of shots just to rehab, just to get my body ready for the next season. A lot of people don't understand that. They think just because it's offseason that I'm just going to all these lavish places, just laying on the beach, having a good time, partying. That's part of it, but the last two, three years or so, that's not what I've been doing. I do that to kind of just get away from the grueling rehab and workout regimen that I have during the offseason. But it's not like that. If I know I'm the number-one guy, or a big piece of the puzzle like I am here with the Eagles, I prepare and I train hard to go out there and score all those touchdowns. To do what I do on the football field. So, I don't expect them to understand. But, if they were in my situation, I guarantee you they would understand.

GB: How do you feel about your relationship with Philadelphia fans?

TO: I love the Philly fans. I know I've lost some, but I think there are a lot of fans out there who understand where I'm coming from and they enjoy what I do on the football field.

GB: Should Eagles fans be concerned you're putting your house up for sale?

Terrell Owens
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Owens says he has played through pain, and he expects to be rewarded for it.

TO: That's my prerogative if I want to sell my house or not. Maybe there is a reason why I'm putting it up for sale. My thing is I'm really not looking to be here, probably no more than the next three to five years, so who knows. I just want to be happy. If it's here then I would love to be here. If not, then you've got to move on. I have enjoyed (playing here), and I'm still enjoying football. If there is a situation where they have a change of heart and they want to come to their senses and do the right thing, I would be more than happy to be here. But, at this time, I'm being honest with myself and really trying to look toward the future. And I just don't see myself really being here. And, that's not because I don't want to be here, but I just don't foresee them trying to do the necessary things to keep me here.

GB: Then what do you see happening beyond this year?

TO: I'm not sure. That's something not a lot of people are waiting to see. But I'm really just focused right now on just trying to make it to the playoffs and get the team back to the Super Bowl. So, who's to say? We may get to the playoffs, win a Super Bowl, and they might be like, "Hey! Let's pay him!" Then again, they may get to the playoffs, win or lose, get to the Super Bowl and we may have to part ways. Either way, I'm fine with it, because I'm confident in whatever I do, I'm going to be successful. It doesn't matter what anyone says about me or what anybody thinks about me, when I get on the football field, the best relationship I need is with that football. And once I get it in my hands, I make plays.

GB: I'm sure you'd love an additional pay day after the Super Bowl, too, from the Eagles. If that didn't happen and you had your choice of any team in the NFL to go to next season, who would it be?

TO: I'm not sure. I obviously talk it over with my agent. I would probably go with the best offers out there, and the best possibilities for me to go in there and fit in their system and succeed. I don't really want to worry about not playing to the best of my ability or going somewhere and failing, because that's not going to happen. I just got to go somewhere and help a team get to the next level. If they feel like I'm a missing piece to get them to the playoffs or even to the Super Bowl, then that's where I want to go.

GB: What was it like for you growing up in Alexander City, Ala.?

TO: It wasn't rough. I didn't know anything more than Alexander City, so compared to what I know now, it was very slow. Very slow, compared to California and being out here in Philly and being in the nightlife of Atlanta. But it's just like any normal small town. Everybody works, everybody knows everybody, you go to the football games on Friday, same with basketball. During the summertime you have your Little League sports.

I'm a good football player. If you start questioning my character, my integrity, that's not a fair assessment of who I am, especially when all it is is hearsay.

GB: How much has your grandmother impacted your life?

TO: Man, so much. I think she is the person who has made me as strong as I am. And I'm proud to say that I am who I am because of her. And a lot of people may not like who I am, but hey, if you don't like me, then you don't like her. And, if you don't like her, then I got a problem with you. I know my mom, my brother, and my sisters love me. And they will be one of the first ones to tell me if what I was doing was totally wrong.

GB: What values were instilled in you, growing up, that you tried to pass on to your children?

TO: Honesty, being truthful. Going to church, putting God first. Whatever my situation is, (it's) faith, family and football, in that order. I think what I've learned that I didn't have is how to love. And I didn't have that growing up, even though I knew they did, they just didn't show it. So now it's not a problem to tell my son that I love him. Not because I didn't experience it, but I've learned how to say those things. I've learned how to love.

GB: How are the wedding plans coming?

TO: Hey, they're coming. That's something I'm looking forward to that's going to be exciting that I've never experienced as a little kid. I never experienced going to a wedding of my mom or my dad. So it will be something special.

GB: Finally, you have your enthusiasts, you've had your critics. It certainly wouldn't be right to say either perception of you is accurate. What's a fair assessment of who Terrell Owens is?

TO: That I'm a good football player. That if you start questioning my character, my integrity, that's not a fair assessment of who I am, especially when all it is is hearsay. Especially if you're getting reports about who I am as a person and you haven't really been around me, then I don't think that's fair to say. Other than that, you can only say that I've been a good football player, and I've been productive the number of years I've been in the league.

Graham Bensinger is the host of the Graham Bensinger Radio Show in St. Louis and Syracuse. He is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at graham@thegbshow.com.