T.O. to work out in voluntary minicamps
With a shrug of his shoulders, Owens noted he wasn't the first or only NFL player to miss a session where attendance isn't mandatory. It just seemed that way to T.O., based on the headlines he generated after failing to arrive for the start of the program on March 23.
"That's the thing, what I find so unfair about it is that I'm not the only guy out of 32 teams that didn't show up," Owens said Thursday. "That's what's so frustrating about the whole thing is that everybody nitpicks at anything and everything I do."
No stranger to creating a buzz during a prolific and attention-grabbing 13-year NFL career, Owens noted he's aware that his reputation isn't going to change now that he's with his fourth team after signing a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Bills shortly after Dallas released him last month.
"I realize that's part of it," he said. "In a sense it motivates me, and I'm really looking forward to the season."
Now that he is in town, Owens intends to take part in all of the team's voluntary minicamps once they open next month.
Owens also had a message for anyone questioning whether he'll be a disruption. Breaking into a smile and standing before eight cameras and a dozen reporters inside a cramped interview area outside the Bills' media room, Owens said: "No worries."
With a red Bills cap turned backward on his head, and wearing a loose white Bills windbreaker and blue tights, Owens looked to be in good shape. After working out on his own, Owens said he traveled to Buffalo for additional workouts along with his own personal trainer, James "Buddy" Primm.
Owens said he's already discussed his offseason schedule with coach Dick Jauron and receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, and informed them that he'll be traveling back and forth between Buffalo and his offseason home in Miami.
Though he's yet to find a temporary place to live in Buffalo, Owens joked that he might "shack up" with a member of the Bills coaching staff.
"You never know," Owens said with a wink. "So I'm still looking."
A month since the Bills made one of the NFL's biggest splashes this offseason, the buzz about T.O. in Buffalo has yet to diminish. Owens attracted attention a few weeks ago when he and fellow Bills receiver Lee Evans sat courtside at a Toronto Raptors game. There's even a sign on an expressway entering town that someone has altered with spray paint to read: "Welcome t.o. Buffalo."
Owens also has toured Buffalo, and been made to feel welcome by the Bills fans he's met.
"So far I'm loving it," he said.
Of course, time will tell how long the love affair lasts.
The Bills went after Owens believing that the 35-year-old has the potential to provide a spark to an offense that has ranked 25th or worse in the NFL in each of the past six seasons. Buffalo, coming off its third straight 7-9 finish, is also seeking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.
Owens is coming off a solid season, in which he had 69 catches for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Bills, by comparison, scored only 14 receiving touchdowns last year.
Owens has to constantly deal with the perception that he is selfish or can be a disruptive force. On Wednesday, current NFL broadcaster and Cowboys Hall-of-Fame quarterback Troy Aikman suggested Dallas made the right move in releasing Owens, believing the team got better by subtraction.
Owens laughed when informed of what Aikman said.
"That's fine. Troy, I think he has three Super Bowl rings, so he has the authority to say that," Owens said. "I've been called selfish pretty much throughout my career. I think I'm in good company. Jerry Rice has been called selfish before. So, other than that, it doesn't bother me what he says."
Owens noted when he played college at Tennessee-Chattanooga, he never envisioned he'd get drafted in the NFL.
"The things that I've accomplished so far really eclipses anything negative that anybody says about me," Owens said. "[Aikman] said it, and I'll move on."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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