Terrell Owens

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Terrell Owens

Terrell Eldorado Owens (born December 7, 1973, in Alexander City) is a former American football wide receiver who played 15 seasons in the National Football League. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Owens holds or shares several National Football League records, and features in the all-time top-five in several receiving categories, including yards and touchdowns.

As productive as he has been, Owens has been equally controversial, creating firestorms with almost every team he has played for as a professional. Owens played college football and basketball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and was selected in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Owens was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 after a spat with 49ers front office members. Two years later, he was released and signed to another large pact by the Dallas Cowboys, only to be given his unconditional release on March 4, 2009. Owens has also played for the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals in 2009 and 2010, respectively. He recently played for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, before being released in 2012.

Popularly known by his initials, T.O., Owens is as renowned for his flamboyant touchdown celebrations and public persona as he is for his talent on the field. His actions on and off the field have led to many league fines, as well as frequent penalties for his team.

With his cousin Antonio Minnifield, Owens was a co-owner of Amani Raha, an upscale bar at Dr Pepper Place from 2005 until 2008. Owens was a top-6 finisher in the ABC reality show Dancing with the Stars season 25 in 2017. The competition was won by Birmingham native Jordan Fisher.


Born into a troubled home in Alexander City, Owens immersed himself in sports from an early age. He was a four-year letterman in football and track at Benjamin Russell High School and also lettered three times in basketball and once in baseball. His high school career was not stellar. He only became a starter for the Wildcats his senior year. He was not heavily recruited and accepted a scholarship offer from Tennessee-Chattanooga because they would allow him to play multiple sports.

Owens played in the 1995 NCAA Tournament in basketball and anchored the school's 4x100 relay team. In football, he wore #80 in honor of his idol, Jerry Rice. As a freshman, Owens was used sparingly by coach Buddy Nix, catching 6 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. In his sophomore year new head coach Tommy West promoted him to starter. He caught 38 passes for 724 yards and 8 TDs in his second year, including a school record 4 touchdowns against Marshall. Playing for his third coach in three years, Owens anchored the offense during his junior year and caught 58 passes for 836 yards and 6 TDs. He was named to the Southern Conference All-Conference second team. In his senior year Owens faced double coverage every week and was limited to 43 receptions for 666 yards and one touchdown.

San Francisco 49ers

Based as much on his size and speed as on his demonstrated ability, Owens was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 1996 draft as the 89th overall pick. The chance to play alongside Jerry Rice thrilled the rookie. He stayed quiet in practice and made his first impact on special teams, recording three tackles in a game against the Atlanta Falcons.

In the 1997 season, after Jerry Rice went down early in the season with a torn ACL. Owens and quarterback Steve Young helped the 49ers win 13 games. In a 1998 wild-card playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Owens caught a 25 yard touchdown pass amidst four Packers defenders in the final seconds that lifted the 49ers to a 30-27 victory. This catch became known as "The Catch II" among Niners fans.

The following season the 49ers fell to 4-12. Young retired after the 1999 season and Jeff Garcia was named the starting quarterback. In 2000, although Owens put up very productive individual statistics, the Niners still only managed to win six games. In 2001, the 49ers rebounded to 12-4 before losing to the Packers in the wild card playoff round. By then, Owens was having widely documented feuds with Garcia and head coach Steve Mariucci. Sportswriters reported that Owens would refuse to even speak to the coach. At the conclusion of the 2002 season, Mariucci was fired and replaced by Dennis Erickson. In 2003, the 49ers fell back to 7-9 and Owens continued to criticize Garcia.

While with San Francisco, Owens became notorious for his flamboyant and inflammatory celebrations after touchdowns. Of special note are the times he danced on the start at Texas Stadium (September 24, 2000) and pulled a sharpie out of his sock to sign a ball (October 14, 2002).

Philadelphia Eagles

On March 4, 2004, San Francisco traded Owens to the Baltimore Ravens for a second round pick in the 2004 draft. Owens's contract with the Eagles was reported to be worth $49 million for seven years, including a $10 million signing bonus.

In September 2004, Owens released his autobiography, Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon. The 288 page book was ghostwritten by Stephen Singular. Owens later admitted in 2005 that he had never actually read his own "autobiography". The book appeared on the New York Times best-seller list briefly.

The 2004 season got off to a great start for the Eagles, who won 13 of their first 14 games with Owens averaging a touchdown catch per game. On December 19, 2004, Owens severely sprained his ankle and fractured a fibula during a home game against the Cowboys, apparently ending his season. The Eagles managed to win their first NFC title since 1980 without Owens. He announced unexpectedly that he intended to play in that year's Super Bowl, even though team doctors were still saying that his injury would take several more weeks to heal. Owens did, in fact, start the game, catching 9 passes for 122 yards in the loss to the Patriots.

In April 2005, Owens hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent and indicated that he wanted to renegotiate his contract with the Eagles. Owens and Rosenhaus met with Eagles head coach Andy Reid and president Joe Banner, but no agreement was reached, leading Owens to threaten a holdout from training camp until a deal was reached. He did not make good on his threat and did not receive a new contract. He did receive a two-week suspension on August 10, 2005 after a heated exchange with Reid. The Eagles mailed Owens a Notice of Unsatisfactory Work Performance, stipulating expectations for his behavior when he resumed playing August 17.

In a November 3, 2005 interview, Owens said he thought the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre were on the team instead of Donovan McNabb. He also criticized the Eagles organization for not publicly acknowledging his 100th career touchdown catch. Owens was given a 4-game suspension on November 5 for conduct detrimental to the team, which allegedly included a physical fight with a team official. Following the suspension he was deactivated and released from the team. In a later interview, Owens apologized to the team (including McNabb) and fans.

Dallas Cowboys

On March 14, 2006, the Philadelphia Eagles released Owens. Four days later, on March 18, 2006, Jerry Jones announced that the Dallas Cowboys had signed Owens to a 3-year, $25 million deal, including a $5 million signing bonus, with a $5 million first year salary.

Owens returned to the field during the Cowboys' 2006 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the game ended in a Jaguars victory, Owens recorded 8 receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown. The following week, Owens damaged one of his finger bones, and was forced to leave the game. It was later determined that Owens would require surgery to correct the injury, and require anywhere from two to four weeks to recuperate. Days after Owens promised his fans he would return to play against Philadelphia Eagles, he overdosed on his medication. After a bye week giving him time to recuperate, Owens played in the following game against the Tennessee Titans, where he accounted for 88 receiving yards as well as three touchdowns.

The following week, Owens made his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia, where he played his former teammate, Donovan McNabb. Upon his return, Owens was met by a hail of angry cheers and taunts, including chants of "O.D." throughout the game. Despite pregame talk about a weak Eagles secondary, Owens struggled throughout the game. Owens had three catches for 45 yards, while the Cowboys went on to lose, 38–24.

After the game, according to a report from a stadium employee at Lincoln Financial Field, Owens ran into the locker room following the 38–24 loss and launched into a tirade, yelling and asking why the Cowboys bothered signing him in the offseason, indicating that they should have thrown the ball towards him more. Owens later confirmed this in a post-practice interview. After the Cowboys defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 38-28, owner Jerry Jones revealed that Owens had injured a tendon on one of his fingers (the same finger that he broke in an unrelated incident a few weeks earlier). The doctors recommended season-ending surgery, but Owens elected to risk permanent damage to his finger and decided to wait until the end of the season to repair the damage. "There's no question about what he's willing to do for his team", Jones said.

Owens led the league in regular season with 13 touchdown receptions. On March 1, 2007, he underwent surgery twice to repair his right ring finger.

In the 2007 season, Owens and the Cowboys began to live up to their potential. On November 18, Owens set a new career high and tied a franchise record, with four touchdown catches against the Washington Redskins. With his TD catch against Green Bay on November 29, Owens became the first player in NFL history with at least one touchdown catch and six receptions in seven straight games. Also with this win, the Cowboys clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season, making this the third time Owens would participate in back-to-back postseasons. Owens was one of the starting wide receivers to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl along with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. On January 9, Owens made the All-Pro team along with teammates Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware. On December 22 in a week 16 game against the Carolina Panthers, Owens caught his 15th touchdown catch of the season to set a new Cowboy record for touchdown catches in a season. During this game, however, Owens suffered a high ankle sprain after making a catch in the second quarter, which kept him out of the rest of the regular season. Owens was leading the league in receiving yards and was 2nd in receiving touchdowns at the time. He finished the season with 81 receptions, 15 touchdowns, and 1,355 receiving yards, as the team finished 13-3 and clinched the NFC's top seed.

Owens returned for the divisional playoff game against the Giants, where he caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys lost the game, however, 21-17 and Owens broke down crying during the post-game press conference in a now-infamous incident.

In the 2008 Pro Bowl, Owens caught 7 passes for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns in an NFC win. Despite his efforts, Minnesota Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson was named MVP.

In the Cowboys second game of the season, the last Monday Night game at Texas Stadium, Owens passed Cris Carter to move to second in touchdowns behind former teammate Jerry Rice.

The Cowboys released Owens on March 4, 2009. Owens later said that Jerry Jones had assured him that he would be remaining with the team and that he was blindsided by his release.

Buffalo Bills

On March 8, 2009, the Buffalo Bills signed Owens to a 1-year, $6.5 million contract. Owens had his first catch with the Bills when he had a 27-yard play on a 3rd-and-1 in the 25-24 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. With that catch, he passed former Bills receiver Andre Reed on the all-time Top 20 career leaders list for pass receptions. Owens debuted with 2 catches for 45 yards in the game. Owens caught his first TD pass with Buffalo in a 33-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 20, 2009. Owens had his best game with the Bills in a 15-18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Owens had 9 receptions for 197 yards and a touchdown. Owens and Ryan Fitzpatrick set a Bills record for longest TD reception when Fitzpatrick connected with Owens for a 98 yard TD. The 98-yard TD reception is Owens' longest TD reception. He also became the oldest player to have a TD reception of 76+ yards (35 years, 350 days).

Owens became the sixth player to reach 1,000 receptions in a career. He accomplished this during a game against the Atlanta Falcons from an 8-yard pass from Brian Brohm.

Cincinnati Bengals

On July 27, 2010, Owens signed a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. It was reportedly worth two million dollars, with another two million dollars possible from bonuses. He joined Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, both of whom lobbied for the Bengals to sign Owens. He received his customary number, #81, given to him by free-agent acquisition wide receiver Antonio Bryant in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money to be donated to a charity of Bryant's choice.

Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4, he had a spectacular game with 10 receptions, 222 yards and a touchdown of 78 yards on the day. On December 21, Owens was placed on injured reserve, for the first time in his 15-year career. He still managed to lead all Bengals' receivers (including Ochocinco) with receptions (72), yards (983) and touchdowns (9) for the season. However, the Bengals fell from a 10-6 record the year before Owens joined to a 4-12 record with Owens. The Bengals decided not to re-sign Owens for the 2011 season.

He suffered a torn ACL during the 2011 off-season and underwent surgery in April 2011. According to his agent, he was cleared to play again on October 19. He held a televised workout on October 25, which no NFL teams chose to attend.

Allen Wranglers (IFL)

On November 2, 2011, the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League announced they had extended a six-figure contract offer to Owens to play for the Wranglers in the 2012 season. On January 18, 2012, Owens announced via Twitter that he had accepted the Wranglers' offer and join their ownership group, with an official press conference to follow the following week. In his debut for the Wranglers, Owens caught three passes for 53 yards and three touchdowns as the Wranglers defeated Wichita Wild 50-30. His stats were 8 games played 35 catches- 420 yards- 52.5 YPG- 12 yards per catch- 45 longest catch- 10 touchdowns. On May 29, 2012, Owens was released.

Seattle Seahawks

On August 6, 2012, Owens signed a one-year, $925,000 contract with the Seattle Seahawks. On August 26, 2012, Owens announced on his Twitter account that the Seahawks had released him.

Owens was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.


  • Detailed biography at Jockbio.com
  • Terrell Owens. (2014, January 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:42, January 22, 2014, from [1]
  • Strickland, Susan. (July 28, 2005) "Peace, but no quiet at Amani." The Birmingham News
  • Aron, Jaime (September 27, 2006) "Police: T.O. tried to kill himself." Associated Press

External links