Owens remains hot topic at Pro Bowl

Updated: February 10, 2006, 9:29 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

HONOLULU -- None of the eight wide receivers here for the Pro Bowl is named Terrell Owens, but the exiled Philadelphia Eagles star is still every bit as discussed, maybe more so, in fact, than any of the pass-catchers in attendance for the Sunday evening all-star game.

And not all the discussion is positive.

"As a player, you would love to have him on your team," said tailback Larry Johnson of Kansas City, one of the clubs said to be interested in acquiring Owens, either via trade or free agency. "As a person I just don't know yet. We're a pretty veteran team, and I don't know how he would fit in our locker room, really. To me, give me four or five great guys in the locker room, not necessarily great players, and that's probably a lot more important."

To suggest that the question of exactly where Owens will play in 2006 has monopolized Pro Bowl week would be hyperbole. But it has, noted one player from a club considering Owens, and coining a new word to describe the level of curiosity about the star pass-catcher, "monotonized" things.

After every practice, unfailingly, the discussion in some corner of the field eventually works its way to Owens and where he will resume his career. He may be in absentia, but Owens is still on the minds of a lot of people here.

The hot buzz on Wednesday, having quickly carried across five time zones to this Pacific paradise, was that Owens met that day with Miami Dolphins officials. The rumors certainly piqued the interest of current Miami wide receiver Chris Chambers, here for his first Pro Bowl appearance. Thing is, Dolphins officials and two sources close to Owens told ESPN.com the rumors were erroneous.

There are certain to be T.O. sightings in a few more NFL precincts in coming weeks, as the calendar moves toward March, when the Eagles owe Owens a total of $7.5 million in bonuses. One of those spots could well be Miami, and Kansas City could merit a visit as well. To date, though, the Denver Broncos are the lone team to have brought in Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus for a face-to-face, get-acquainted session.

The Eagles last month granted Rosenhaus permission to seek out potential trade partners. Once considered impossible, it now appears Philadelphia might actually be able to deal Owens, and at least getting something in return, before having to release him into free agency. It is believed there are 4-5 teams with legitimate interest in trading for Owens.

Said Broncos Pro Bowl middle linebacker Al Wilson: "When you fall a little short, like we did this season, you always think, 'Well, if we can just get that one more piece of the puzzle, the guy who puts you over the top, it would be worth it.' In the case of [Owens] we'll just have to see."

Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, who played the last two seasons with Owens, and who was an advocate at times for the tempestuous wideout, cautioned earlier this week that any team interested had better perform its due diligence.

"Knowing what I know now about him I wouldn't go there, no way," Dawkins said. "Just be prepared for whatever. He's a great guy as far as a person goes, but he says what's on his mind, so you've got to be prepared for whatever."

Dawkins said that, his athletic prowess aside, Owens has the ability "to poison" a locker room.

"You saw what happened this year," Dawkins said. "It can happen. It starts to filter through. Different opinions are given out, and things happen that shouldn't happen."

But the Dawkins warnings notwithstanding, there will be multiple teams that pursue Owens, and players here fully expect him to land on his feet.

"All the other stuff aside, he's a dynamic guy, a playmaker, and you can't ignore that," Wilson said.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.