Owens trying to avoid controversy
And if reporters don't like that, too bad, because Owens feels whatever he says will be taken out of context, and he has no intention of throwing more fuel on the fire.
"I think over the years that's always gotten me in trouble and created some sort of division in the locker room with guys on the team," Owens said after practice Wednesday. "I try to do the right thing now. And even when I try to do the right thing, it's not the right thing. I'm in a situation where I'm in a no-win situation.
"I just try to do the best I can do without offending someone."
Welcome to T.O. Version 2.0, the one who is refusing to cause a disruption or say anything that might be considered a knock against quarterback Trent Edwards or the offense after he had a 185-game reception streak snapped in a 27-7 loss to New Orleans last weekend.
"Guys, all I can say is that I'm working hard, we're working hard as a team," Owens said, as the Bills (1-2) prepare to play at Miami (0-3) on Sunday. "Myself, I just have to make the best of the opportunities that are coming my way."
It made no difference to Owens that he has five catches for 98 yards and one touchdown, or that he and fellow deep threat Lee Evans have been mere afterthoughts in what's essentially been a dink-and-dunk passing attack. And if Evans has said that he and Owens have approached Edwards about taking more shots downfield, then that's OK.
"Lee is a captain on this team, and if he said that, then I'll just go with that," Owens said. "I don't feel the need to say that because if I say it, according to you guys, I'm taking a shot at Trent or whatnot. So I just tend to not say anything."
That's a considerable switch for a high-profile player who is no stranger to controversy.
Owens' reputation for being disruptive has grown during his 14-year NFL career following several public quarterback feuds. He's criticized Jeff Garcia, was suspended by the Eagles after a series of dustups with teammates and coaches, and has also suggested Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played a role in the receiver being cut by Dallas.
Owens said it's not his intention to repeat the past in Buffalo, the team that signed him to a one-year contract in March, days after the Cowboys cut him.
"My thing is they brought me here to give this team a lift and obviously create some opportunities," he said. "I don't know what else to say. I'm just going to try to stay positive and keep working hard and hope for the best. That's all you can do."
It hasn't been enough so far.
Owens was initially criticized after he refused to address reporters following a season-opening loss at New England. He was questioned again after avoiding the media following a 33-20 win over Tampa Bay in Week 2.
Then came last weekend. After failing to make a catch for the first time since Week 6 of his rookie season, Owens went to the postgame podium, where he provided short answers and, on four occasions, said "Just going with the plays called."
His responses didn't sit well with two NBC football analysts, former coach Tony Dungy and former safety Rodney Harrison, on Sunday night.
Harrison referred to Owens as "a clown," and added, "He's more concerned with his own stats than the team's success."
Owens shot back at Harrison with several posts on his Twitter page, making reference to Harrison being suspended in 2007 for using a banned substance.
"I can only take so much and try to be the butt of somebody's jokes," Owens said. "I'm not going to allow someone to just call me a clown and feel like they can just run all over me."
Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud believes the criticism has been unfair. Stroud also credited T.O. for not giving in to his emotions following the loss.
"Any time you go out and play hard and lose a game, it's hard," Stroud said. "The thing is, a lot of people want to see him do something and they try to target him, but at the same time, he is getting a lot of unfair criticism."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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