Sources: Owens placed in 'reasonable cause' testing program

Updated: June 11, 2008, 8:47 AM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN.com

On the same day the Dallas Cowboys announced that wide receiver Terrell Owens had agreed to a contract extension with $13 million in guaranteed money, Owens was in New York meeting with NFL officials after being placed in the league's "reasonable cause" testing program for performance-enhancing drugs, sources told ESPN.

Owens was placed in the program because he missed day-of telephone calls to set up random tests, the sources said. A player who misses a test can be subject to disciplinary action, but because Owens had a "plausible" explanation, league administrators decided he would not be suspended or fined.

Owens acknowledged Monday having missed the test several weeks ago, blaming it on a "communication problem involving cell phone numbers."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Owens said: "I'm not really worried about anything. It's not a big deal. Anything I do is going to grab headlines. I have nothing to hide. I've made a statement and that's it. It's basically a dead issue."

Earlier he issued a statement that read: "It was openly discussed and cleared up in a meeting that I had at the NFL office last week. I have been in the NFL for over 12 years and have never had a positive test for substance of any kind. That includes tests that took place as recently as last month. The matter was resolved to everyone's satisfaction last Tuesday, and everyone has moved on."

Owens can now be randomly tested for performance enhancers up to a maximum of 24 annual screenings, and these additional screenings can be required, if the NFL chooses to do so, for the remainder of his NFL career.

Terrell Owens

Owens

"Before I ever extended Terrell's contract, I knew that he had communciation issues with the league but, trust me, I also know firsthand who he is and what he's all about," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Monday. "Because of that, I didn't hesitate to give him [$27 million] and I negotiated that while this was going on. Anybody who knows me knows I would never under any circumstance give away that kind of money if I had any suspicion or evidence that there was some kind of risk like that involved. There is no risk with Terrell."

An NFL spokesman said the league would have no comment because of the confidentiality restrictions of the program. Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was unavailable for comment, but his partner and brother, Jason Rosenhaus, said: "We're not allowed to comment on anything pertaining to that topic."

After receiving a letter from the NFL informing him of the action, Owens met with NFL officials on the morning of June 3 because he was in the New York area. Owens has since passed a test for performance enhancers, the sources said. The sources added that Owens has never had a positive test for any illegal substance.

Owens was warned that he risks a suspension if administrators experience a similar roadblock as they did when they attempted to reach him two weeks ago. On one occasion, the primary phone number Owens provided was that of Drew Rosenhaus. Subsequently, the sources said, the alternate phone number Owens provided went unanswered, except for an automated message that said: "The voice mailbox for this user is full." Owens told the league that his phone had not shown any record of its missed calls.

The testing program requires players to make themselves accessible and communicate their specific location when they are contacted for a test.

It was late in the afternoon of June 3 when Owens and the Cowboys held a news conference at the Cowboys' headquarters at Valley Ranch to announce the receiver's new three-year, $27 million contract extension with $13 million of new guaranteed money.

Chris Mortensen is an NFL reporter for ESPN. Information from ESPN.com's Ed Werder and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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