Owens: 'I can't do right and I can't do wrong'
Terrell Owens, chagrined by some of the characterizations of him over the past week, denied on Monday night he switched agents to improve his financial status, but was as elusive in discussing his contract as he is in dodging NFL cornerbacks.
The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver also insisted his goal is to win a Super Bowl title with his current team, but found time to take a not particularly veiled swipe at Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, with the talkative wide receiver noting at one point that he "wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl."
What Owens apparently has grown weary of, it seems, are what he perceives as portrayals of him being selfish and opportunistic.
"As always, there is a lot being written and [reported] without anyone talking to me," Owens said. "I mean, I can't do right and I can't do wrong. It's getting, in some ways, like it was for me in San Francisco. But the one thing that won't change is that I'm going to show up to play and to win. No one can ever [debate] that."
Whether Owens is seeking a change in his contract -- after just one season under the seven-year, $48.97 million deal he signed with the Eagles as part of a three-team trade that landed him in Philadelphia last spring -- remains unknown. ESPN.com first reported last Tuesday that Owens had retained high-profile agent Drew Rosenhaus, arguably the NFL's top dealmaker, perhaps in an effort to upgrade his contract.
Rosenhaus met briefly last Wednesday in Philadelphia with Eagles team president Joe Banner. Neither man divulged details of their conversation but it should be noted that Rosenhaus typically huddles with team officials when he takes on a new client.
League sources have said that the Eagles will not renegotiate Owens' contract at this time but might, at some point, consider restructuring the deal to redistribute monies due in the next few years. At least under current ownership, Philadelphia has never made dramatic changes to a contract with so many years remaining on it.
On Monday, asked pointedly and repeatedly about his reasons for retaining Rosenhaus, and about his possible designs on a new deal, Owens declined to comment in detail. Rosenhaus also declined comment.
"We'll just have to see what happens," Owens said.
Club officials might have to adopt the same wait-and-see approach when it comes to Owens' attendance at offseason workouts. The nine-year veteran was non-committal when asked about spring and summer practices, at one point questioning the difference between voluntary and mandatory workouts, but was adamant that coach Andy Reid knows exactly what kind of shape Owens will be in for his second season with the team.
"No one can ever accuse me of not being in great shape," said Owens, who is likely to skip offseason sessions and perhaps even the start of training camp. "Andy knows that. My teammates know that, when I show up, I'm ready to go. The biggest concern should be winning a Super Bowl. That's what I show up to do. I've never been out of shape. I mean, this is my [livelihood]."
The five-time Pro Bowl performer acknowledged he was particularly riled by a recent broadcast report that he was late for at least one team meeting in the week preceding Super Bowl XXXIX. He questioned both the motivation and timing of the report and denied its validity. Owens said that, were it true, Reid probably would not have allowed him to play in the championship game.
Eagles officials could not be reached late Monday night to comment on Owens' account of his attendance during Super Bowl week.
For the title matchup, Owens made a comeback some considered miraculous, playing nearly the entire contest only 6½ weeks after sustaining a broken right ankle in a Dec. 19 outing against the Dallas Cowboys. Owens caught nine passes for 122 yards in the Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.
"There are a lot of people who said that me playing in that game was an inspiration to them," Owens said. "Hey, the only person I was trying to inspire was myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. But why did I want to do it? To win a Super Bowl for the team, for the fans, for the city. I did everything they asked me to do. I played every snap they allowed me to play. I wasn't even running until, like, two weeks before the game. But I made sure I was in the best shape possible. I wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl."
Asked to whom he was referring, Owens laughed, then changed the subject. It has been widely reported that McNabb was either ill or fatigued late in Super Bowl XXXIX. The star quarterback has denied either was the case.
Owens, 31, said his rehabilitation continues, his leg feels "great" and he is "really looking forward" to the 2005 season.
Owens registered 77 receptions for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games before suffering the broken ankle in his first season with the Eagles.
Owens said he remains close with former agent David Joseph, who represented him his entire career, and who helped extricate him from the 49ers. Joseph negotiated the current contract with the Eagles.
The contract included a $10.3 million signing bonus. Over the first three years of the deal, it makes Owens one of the highest paid wide receivers in league history. Owens is scheduled to earn a base salary of $3.25 million for 2005.
Owens said he and Joseph spoke at length about the split and conceded it was painful, and added that he also spoke with Reid to explain his reasons for new representation.
"It's like I told Andy, I wasn't out there looking all over the place for a new agent, but it just happened," Owens said. "It was a business decision, that's all, and it was a decision I felt like I wanted to make. I guess it would be like a couple that's been married for a long time and then, all of a sudden, getting divorced. But me and Dave, we're still very strong friends. Our business [arrangement] has changed, [but] our personal relationship hasn't.
"That's the truth. But I know that, when it comes to me, people are going to believe what they want to believe, you know?"
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .