Banishing Act Ousted Owens will not return to the Eagles this season It's over: Eagles end relationship that turned sour

Posted: November 08, 2005

By the end of the Eagles' workday at the NovaCare Complex, the photograph of a smiling Terrell Owens flanked by Eagles coach Andy Reid and owner Jeffrey Lurie was no longer hanging in the team's media relations office.

It had been donated to an ESPN employee, an appropriate recipient since it was an interview last week with the Disney-owned network that triggered T.O.'s final, tumultuous days with the Eagles.

Now their star receiver is out of sight, out of mind, and out of here forever.

After keeping with his routine of reciting the weekly injury report and making his opening remarks about the previous day's game, Reid read what amounted to the start of the Eagles' divorce proceedings yesterday from the man they and this city once loved so dearly.

"Terrell Owens has been suspended by the team for four games for conduct detrimental to the team," Reid said. "He will not be returning to the team even after the conclusion of that suspension. The league has been notified by the Players Association that they will be grieving our right to take that action. Therefore, there is nothing more I can say at this point.

"I do want it to be clear that this decision is a result of a large number of situations that accumulated over a long period of time, during which Terrell had been warned repeatedly about the consequences of his actions. Even with his activities that took place last week, we gave Terrell every opportunity to avoid this outcome."

Reid informed Owens of the Eagles' decision by phone about 2:30 p.m.

According to a league source, all Owens had to do to remain with the team was apologize to his teammates for his negative remarks about the organization and quarterback Donovan McNabb during an interview with ESPN.com last week. Another league source said that despite coaxing from some of his teammates who were among his biggest supporters, Owens would not do it.

ESPN commentator Michael Irvin said last night that he talked to Owens after the Eagles' decision and described the wide receiver as disappointed and hurt. He also said that Owens was ready to apologize to the team before hearing from Reid.

A league source also said that the Eagles were more upset about Owens' most recent verbal assault on the organization and McNabb than they were about his physical altercation with team ambassador Hugh Douglas, who has described the clash as overblown.

"That fight alone would not have led to this action," the source said.

Carl Francis, a spokesman for the NFL Players Association, said a grievance would be filed on Owens' behalf in the next seven days. A spokesman for the league said an independent arbitrator would hear the case and that it could be resolved by early next week.

Owens, who led the Eagles with 47 catches, 763 receiving yards and six touchdowns, stands to lose $823,528 of his $3.5 million salary if he does not win his grievance. Two league sources said the Eagles do not care about the money, but they do care about making sure that Owens does not play anywhere else this season.

The Eagles have previously claimed that they can recover $1.8 million of Owens' $9 million signing bonus because he did not show up at the team's mandatory post-draft passing camp last spring. The team now may try to recover that money.

Drew Rosenhaus, Owens' agent, did not return phone calls yesterday, but it is safe to assume that he'd like the Eagles to release his client to give him an opportunity to sign elsewhere.

Owens can be suspended for only four games under the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement, which means the team will have to pay him for the final five games and place him on the weekly inactive list in order to keep him from playing for another team.

A team spokesman said the Eagles could place Owens on the reserved suspended list for the next three games and add a player to their 53-man roster for games against the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

After the game against the Packers, the Eagles will have to reinstate Owens on the 53-man roster and place him on the inactive roster for the final five games. Owens would be paid $1.03 million over the final five games. Tampa Bay paid Keyshawn Johnson for the final six games in 2003 after he was sent home for the season because of the wide receiver's differences with coach Jon Gruden.

In a perfect world, of course, the Eagles would still be in the midst of a happy marriage with arguably their most talented player. But once Owens decided he was underpaid and underappreciated shortly after his impressive Super Bowl performance against New England, the separation between team and player began.

The only way the Eagles were going to be able to make Owens happy was by renegotiating the seven-year, $48.97 million contract he signed with the team before the 2004 season. Once it was clear in early April that the Eagles had no intention of doing that, the battle lines between Owens and the team were drawn.

A tumultuous seven months followed.

Owens held out of the Eagles' mandatory passing camp in late April, then boycotted the voluntary minicamp the following month. Bad got worse when he decided to report to training camp at Lehigh University.

He ignored certain teammates - most notably McNabb - and did not speak to any of his coaches except his position coach, David Culley. He also refused to attend autograph signings with his fellow wide receivers.

When Reid confronted him about his behavior, Owens responded by telling him to shut up, triggering a heated discussion that ended with the wide receiver being sent home for a week by the head coach.

Driveway sit-ups became a part of team history as local news helicopters hovered above Owens' home in Moorestown. Owens returned to the team a week later and still provided some electrifying moments on the field, including a career-long 91-yard touchdown reception in his final game with the Eagles on Oct. 30 against the Denver Broncos.

But his on-field heroics couldn't outweigh his off-the-field remarks, and the consensus in the Eagles' locker room was that the players had heard enough.

Reid and the front office agreed, and now the T.O. era in Philadelphia is over.

"It's been challenging at times," Reid admitted. "But that also comes with the seat I sit in, and you are always going to have challenges. That is part of the job and I understand that."

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

What Does It Mean?

The Eagles have suspended Terrell Owens for four games without pay for actions detrimental to the team, described by coach Andy Reid as "a large number of situations that accumulated over a long period of time."

The first game of the suspension was Sunday night against the Redskins.

The Eagles announced that Owens will be inactive for the final five games of the regular season, but will be paid.

According to Reid, the NFL has been notified by the NFL Players Association that it will file a grievance about the suspension.

Owens is scheduled to make $3.5 million this season and will lose more than $800,000 during the suspension, but will make more than $1 million for being inactive in the final five games.

Owens is scheduled to receive a $5 million roster bonus in March 2006.

The Eagles can trade or release Owens after the season.

What the Eagles Will Miss

Terrell Owens' regular-season statistics as an Eagle:

G Rec Yards TD

2004 14 77 1,200 14

2005 7 47 763 6

Totals 21 124 1,963 20

Owens' top five games (yardage) with Philadelphia:

Rec. Yds Avg. Long TD

Oct. 2, 2005 at Chiefs 11 171 15.5 30 1

Dec. 5, 2004 vs. Packers 8 161 20.1 45 1

Oct. 30, 2005 at Broncos 3 154 51.3 91 1

Sept. 18, 2005 vs. 49ers 5 143 28.6 68 2

Nov. 15, 2004 at Cowboys 6 134 22.3 59 3

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