NFL fines Cowboys' Owens $35,000 for spitting on Hall

Updated: December 20, 2006, 12:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens has 35,000 reasons to never spit at an opponent again.

Terrell Owens
Owens

T.O. was fined $35,000 by the NFL on Monday for spitting in the face of Atlanta cornerback DeAngelo Hall during Saturday night's Cowboys-Falcons game. Owens, however, told Westwood One radio that he has filed an appeal of the fine.

Although it's more than twice as much as the last fine for spitting, the flamboyant receiver avoided a suspension.

That doesn't mean he is out of Cowboys coach Bill Parcells' doghouse.

Parcells said Monday "we don't condone that kind of activity," adding that the team may also punish Owens.

"If we did, I wouldn't make anybody aware of it," Parcells said, thus indicating that the penalty wouldn't be a suspension either.

Owens wasn't ejected because officials didn't see it.

Hall had called for the NFL to suspend Owens.

"I think, for what he did, he deserves more than a fine," Hall said on Sunday. "The guy has all the money in the world. He's making $10 million or whatever this year. So what's a fine going to mean to him, really? What he did, it was [vulgar], you know? But he's a great player, a great competitor, and what would hurt him a lot more than a fine is making him sit. That would get his attention. And that's what I think the league should do. They need to do something pretty [severe], because there's something wrong with him, and he just can't get away with this kind of stuff."

Hall was adamant on Sunday that Owens offered no apology.

When told on Monday that Owens was not suspended, Hall responded, "It's over, it's done. We are getting ready for these Carolina Panthers to come to town. I can care less if I hear his name again."

But did T.O. even know he spat at Hall?

At first, he said he did, telling the NFL Network after the game: "I got frustrated and I apologize for that. It was a situation where he kept bugging me and getting in my face."

But on Monday, he insisted it was an accident.

Should T.O. have been suspended?
Theisman's take:
Joe Theisman thinks T.O. should have been suspended for a minimum of two games for spitting in the face of DeAngelo Hall. He also believes T.O. will do something at some time to hurt the Cowboys during their playoff run. To hear the rest of Joe's analysis, click hereInsider

Irvin's take:
Michael Irvin says T.O. should have been fined, but not suspended. The league shouldn't suspend T.O. just because he's T.O. There is no precedent for suspending a player for spitting, so the NFL can't start now. And if Owens still played for Philly? To hear Michael's surprising answer to that question, click hereInsider

"When it happened, we were jawing in each other's face, so it wasn't anything intentional," Owens said. "I didn't intentionally spit in his face. He's trying to make it seem like more than what it was by saying I hauled off and spit in his face. I feel like if I spit in his face ... somebody would've seen it."

A suspension would've hurt Dallas (9-5) more because Owens is the team's leading receiver and the Cowboys go into their next game needing a win to lock up the NFC East title.

And, considering that game is against his former team, Philadelphia, and will be nationally televised on Christmas afternoon, sitting out would've been a blow to T.O.

The punishment hardly makes a dent in Owens' wallet. He's making $10 million this season as part of a three-year, $25 million contract signed in March.

Parcells said he wasn't surprised by the hefty fine "because I think commissioner [Roger] Goodell is trying to take strong action on some of this stuff." Parcells seems in favor of it, too, pointing to the Nuggets-Knicks brawl that also happened Saturday night as another example of why such discipline is needed.

"This is dangerous stuff. You've got to try to do things," Parcells said. "I do think you see a lot of things in sports today that you wish weren't a part of. For an old-fashioned guy like me, especially."

Last season, Washington's Sean Taylor was kicked out of a playoff game for spitting at Tampa Bay's Michael Pittman and was later fined $17,000. In 1998, Tampa Bay linebacker Hardy Nickerson was fined the same amount for spitting on Carolina fullback William Floyd. And in 1997, Denver linebacker Bill Romanowski was fined $7,500 for spitting in the face of 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes; Owens was Stokes' teammate at the time.

"The fine does not surprise me," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Spit-gate is the latest on a long list of things that have spiced up Owens' first season in Dallas.

There was a hamstring injury that kept him out of most of the preseason and a fine for being late to work. Then came a broken hand in the second game that required surgery that led to an accidental overdose on painkillers. Police called to his home reported it as a possible suicide attempt, which his publicist shot down by saying Owens "has 25 million reasons to live."

Owens has admitted to a sleeping problem that causes him to doze off in meetings and has questioned cutting kicker Mike Vanderjagt. He's also claimed to have slept through a speech by Parcells. Last week, he talked about not trusting people in the organization, fearing that a snitch is dishing dirt on him.

Yet it's hard to argue with what he does on game day.

Owens leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns -- the most by a Cowboys receiver since Michael Irvin in 1995 -- and is among the league's best with 77 receptions and 1,040 yards.

His numbers would be even better if not for a league-leading 15 drops. Part of his problem holding onto the ball could come from torn ligaments in his right ring finger that have bothered him for about a month. He'd denied it was a problem until Saturday night, when he said surgery is needed but he's waiting until after the season for the good of the team.

Asked if that showed another side of T.O., Parcells said, "Yeah, I think he wants to play."

Parcells also explained why he doesn't like talking about his most-talked-about player, the one he often refers to as "the player."

"I get interested in other things pretty quickly," he said. "I don't pass judgment. I just try to get the player to play to his potential on the field -- that's what my job is to do. I told you that when the player came here. It's my job to try to make things work -- that's what I'm trying to do. ...

"I'm trying to be polite and answer the questions you people are asking," Parcells said. "You don't have anything else to write I guess."

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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