Owens and Mariucci were together six years
PHILADELPHIA -- Finally, there's a topic the loquacious Terrell Owens won't discuss: Steve Mariucci.
Owens, who often feuded with Mariucci during his six seasons in San Francisco, will see his former coach when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the Detroit Lions on Sunday in a matchup of 2-0 teams.
"I don't want to talk about Mooch," Owens said Wednesday. "I'm not playing against Mooch. I'm playing against the Detroit Lions."
Owens' relationship with Mariucci became strained when the star receiver had a pair of infamous touchdown celebrations at the center of Texas Stadium in a game against Dallas in 2000. After both of his touchdown catches, Owens ran to midfield to dance on the Cowboys' famed star logo, sparking a melee. Owens was fined by the NFL, and was suspended by Mariucci for one game.
"We had different views on that issue," Mariucci said in a conference call.
The suspension catalyzed months of bad feelings between the two, and they never really mended their relationship. Mariucci, however, stood by Owens after another one of his innovative touchdown celebrations two years later.
After scoring during a Monday night victory in Seattle, Owens pulled a pen out of his sock, autographed the ball and presented it to his financial adviser in the front row.
"He was cordial enough to give someone a ball," Mariucci said then. "There weren't any obscene gestures, there was no taunting toward the bench or the crowd."
Owens' issues with Mariucci went deeper than his dramatic celebrations. Owens criticized teammates, particularly quarterback Jeff Garcia, questioned the play-calling when he didn't get enough passes, and was known for his sideline tirades.
He once stirred up controversy when he said the team didn't have a "killer instinct" because Mariucci opted to run out the clock in a 10-point victory against Washington.
Fittingly, in Mariucci's last game with the 49ers, a 31-6 loss to Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2002 playoffs, Owens screamed at the sideline and slapped his helmet in disbelief as the coach elected to run out the final 50 seconds of the first half instead of attempting to cut their 28-6 deficit.
Mariucci insists his memories of Owens are fond ones.
"What you know about T.O. is that when he comes to practice and when he comes to play, he gives you his all," Mariucci said. "That's what we asked and that's what we hope for from all of our players is that he gives you a full day's work, and he certainly does that."
When Mariucci was abruptly fired by the 49ers, Owens went up to the coach's office and gave him a hug.
"I was packing boxes, and as you can imagine, it was a difficult time for me and my family," Mariucci said. "We went through a lot together. But that certainly will stick out as one of the memories that I have of T.O., because he didn't have to do that. He came up and gave me a hug and said I appreciate everything and I said the same to him. We had a little chat. It was very cordial and friendly and heartfelt and I appreciated it."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press