QB: 'Just keep my name out of your mouth'
• Donovan McNabb not happy with T.O.
While Owens skipped Philadelphia's first mini-camp practice on Friday, McNabb responded sternly to the All-Pro wide receiver's stinging comments about the quarterback's performance in the Eagles' 24-21 loss to New England in the Super Bowl.
"I don't play games in the media," McNabb said. "I'm not going to sit here and try to have a war of words. I'm a man at what I do. If there's a problem with anyone, and they feel the need to lash out, they know how to get in touch with me and we can handle it like men."
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported online Saturday night that Owens' decision to sit out the Eagles' minicamp -- presumable because he wants a new contract -- could come at great cost to his wallet.
The Inquirer report said the Eagles could get back as much as $1.8 million of his $9.6 million signing bonus, according to a source with knowledge of Owens' contract.
The source said Owens would be in breach of his contract for not reporting to a mandatory camp.
Owens -- who has been making waves for most of the past month -- took a verbal shot at McNabb in an interview earlier this month. Some Eagles said McNabb was so ill in the fourth quarter against the Patriots that he couldn't call one play in the huddle.
"I played every snap they allowed me to play," Owens told ESPN.com. "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."
McNabb, who made a recruiting pitch to get Owens to Philadelphia before last season, insisted he wasn't tired or sick in the final minutes against New England, though it appeared at one point he was either coughing or struggling to catch his breath.
"If you say I was winded, if you say the [offensive] line was winded, if you say the defense was winded, that's fine," McNabb said. "But to be tired and dropping to a knee, that didn't happen."
Without mentioning Owens, McNabb had strong advice for his most loquacious teammate.
"Just keep my name out of your mouth," McNabb said. "Don't try to throw names or guys under the bus to better yourself. You never heard me say any names in any situation. You never heard me talk about any given players. I'm the guy to be professional and be a man about things."
McNabb said he hasn't spoken to Owens since hearing the inflammatory comments.
"If a comment was made about me, it would take that person to call me," he said. "I don't have to reach out to anyone."
The soap opera atmosphere surrounding the NFC champions is a stunning turnaround from the calm environment the Eagles are used to. Contract disputes also kept Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook and defensive tackle Corey Simon at home, and wideout Freddie Mitchell wasn't welcome at camp.
"I told him I did not want him here," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Mitchell, the former first-round pick who has talked himself out of town by constantly griping about his role in the offense.
Owens' holdout could extend deep into training camp, which starts in late July. He said several times this month he wants to renegotiate the seven-year deal he signed last March. The Eagles have refused to redo the contract worth nearly $49 million.
"If he's here, he's here. If he's not, he's not," Reid said. "We have an understanding here that if you're not here, we move on without you. We have been very successful doing that, so we don't waste a lot of time worrying about those things."
The flamboyant Owens helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl in his first season in Philadelphia after eight years with the San Francisco 49ers. Owens set team records with 14 touchdown receptions and seven 100-yard games and finished with 77 catches for 1,200 yards.
Owens broke his leg and severely sprained his right ankle in Week 15 against Dallas, an injury that sidelined him until the Super Bowl. He had nine catches for 122 yards after defying his doctor's advice and playing against the Patriots.
McNabb said he wouldn't have a problem playing with Owens if he returns to the Eagles.
"When I'm on the field, it doesn't matter who I'm throwing it to," he said. "If I'm throwing it to you, you can catch it. If you catch the ball, you get first downs and that's what I'm happy about. What bothers me is when you get out, lash out and say whatever."
Westbrook has until June 15 to sign a one-year, $1.43 million tender. He's seeking a long-term deal, but discussions haven't been promising. Simon was offered a one-year franchise tender worth about $5.13 million, but he also wants a long-term contract.
Westbrook had a breakout season for the Eagles, scoring nine touchdowns and leading the team with 1,515 total yards. He rushed for 812 yards on 177 carries and led all NFL running backs in receptions with 73 for 703 yards last season.
Simon, who went to the Pro Bowl two years ago, overcame a poor start to finish with 5½ sacks and 34 tackles last year. The Eagles considered trading him this offseason, but talks with Baltimore broke down.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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