T.O. hosts own star-studded birthday party
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Terrell Owens doesn't need to score touchdowns to celebrate.
Exiled from the Philadelphia Eagles last month, the All-Pro wide receiver known for his flamboyant end-zone theatrics hosted a birthday party Monday night at rapper Jay-Z's 40-40 club. T.O. turned 32 on Dec. 7.
The bash drew several NFL stars, some of Owens' former Eagles teammates and a few celebrities.
Among the celebrities on the guest list were Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, former Bears coach Mike Ditka, Redskins running back Clinton Portis and Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss were also invited. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was a surprise name on the list -- he and Owens feuded last year when Owens spurned a trade from San Francisco to Baltimore.
Owens arrived shortly before midnight, wearing a white suit.
"Everything's great. It's a party," he said. "I have everything I want. My mom's here."
Owens posed for pictures and went inside. Neither he nor his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, answered questions from reporters.
Irvin led the crowd in a rendition of "Happy Birthday," holding a celebratory cake up for Owens to see. After the singing was over, Owens addressed the revelers.
"I'm still a Philadelphia Eagle until the end of the year," he said. "I love Philly, I love my teammates and thank you to everybody who came here tonight and showed me their love."
He added: "I ain't ever going to let anyone change me. I will be back."
A day earlier, the reigning conference champion Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention with their sixth loss in seven games. Jevon Kearse and Lito Sheppard were among the 11 Eagles who had arrived at the party by 11:15. By one count, there were 19 Eagles at the party, including players on injured reserve and the practice squad.
None of the players were concerned that management would have a problem with them attending the party.
"It's a wonderful event and I'm just showing some support," Kearse said. "He's a wonderful teammate."
No, Donovan McNabb didn't show up in his dancing shoes, even though he was also invited. The injured quarterback and Owens have feuded since the Eagles lost to New England in the Super Bowl last February.
Scantily clad women wearing different colored No. 81 jerseys with question marks representing the team name provided some of the entertainment for the guests.
The party invitations arrived last week and were shaped like a penalty flag. They read: "There's a flag on the play? After further review, No. 81 is at it again."
"It's a party. It's a celebration of another year of life," said Kim Etheredge, Owens' publicist.
"I would go to battle with T.O. any day of the week. A lot of people don't understand him," said former Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell, one of early arrivals.
Owens is still officially a member of the Eagles, but he was banned from team activities and sent home for good last month.
Owens was suspended Nov. 5 after he again criticized McNabb, called the organization "classless" and fought with former teammate Hugh Douglas. Two days later, the Eagles extended the suspension to four games and told Owens not to return.
On Nov. 23, an arbitrator upheld the decision, ruling that the Eagles were justified in their actions.
The Eagles deactivated Owens twice already as planned and will do so for the final three games. They'll likely trade or release Owens before March, when he's due a $5 million roster bonus.
Owens' suspension without pay cost him $764,706 of his $3.25 million base salary for this season. He is owed $955,882 over the final five games.
The Eagles informed Owens he must repay $1.725 million of the $2.3 million signing bonus he received in March 2004. The NFL Players' Association filed a grievance against the Eagles last Tuesday, claiming the team breached Owens' contract by trying to get back part of the bonus and by leaving him inactive for the rest of the season.
Owens has five years remaining on a seven-year, $48.97 million contract that he signed when he came to Philadelphia last year. His problems started when he demanded a new contract after an outstanding season in which he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 24 years.
Owens was kicked out of training camp for one week after a heated dispute with coach Andy Reid that followed a shouting match with offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Owens also annoyed the Eagles by violating the dress code on road trips, parking in coaches' spots at the team's practice facility and sleeping through one team meeting, not bringing his playbook to another and refusing to open the playbook at another meeting.
One day after the Eagles banished him, a contrite Owens pleaded for another chance in a public apology outside his home in Moorestown, but the team was unmoved.
Owens was set to earn base salaries of $770,000 in 2006, $5.5 million in 2007, $6.5 million in 2008, $7.5 million in 2009 and $8.5 million in 2010.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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