So what do Terrell Owens’s former teammates think of him, anyway?
“In 1999, my last year, I don’t remember anything other than hard work and good play” by Owens, Young said by telephone last week.
“He was willing to sacrifice and work, and when he first got there, it was ‘yes, sir, no, sir’ to everybody. He called Jerry ‘sir’; he called [former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci] ‘sir’; he called me ‘sir.’ I said, ‘No, no, no. Don’t call me “sir.” ‘ He was very respectful, and he played hard. He was raw, but you could tell he was a gifted player.”
So Barlow spent the off-season training with Owens, the 49ers’ All-Pro receiver whose fanaticism for workouts is obvious in his supernaturally chiseled body. Owens isn’t known for being particularly friendly with his teammates, but he took Barlow under his wing.
”I learned how to be a robot this summer,” Barlow said. ”The man is a workaholic. He’d come in from an airplane flight at 7 in the morning, and he’d have a workout scheduled at 10 a.m.”
“They talk about the guy who once gave Fred Beasley, then a rookie fullback, $4,500 to cover a fine for being late to a meeting…”
Fullback Fred Beasley, who also scored on a touchdown pass from Rattay, who also caught the ball down the left sideline, who also found himself in single coverage, was also an Owens admirer.
“He’s able to put the team on his shoulders,” Beasley said. “He’s very capable of doing that.”
Wilson defends Terrell Owens and said he’d love to have him as a teammate again. The two played together for three seasons in San Francisco. Wilson said Owens is a good teammate.
“Oh yeah, I mean, come on,” Wilson said. “He’s the type of teammate you want to go to war with. As many passes he catches, he also blocks well. That’s what made Terrell Owens at SF, knocking defensive backs or linebackers down to the ground, things of that nature. He’s a fierce competitor. You don’t want to face him, I’ll tell you that much.”
“He’s a great player. He’s a great person and I would enjoy having him on my football team.” With the 49ers, Wilson said he saw Owens “get frustrated at times with losing. He’s a competitor. He wants to win. At the same time, he feels he should be compensated for his play. That’s really his whole thing. He wants to be compensated for overachieving. You look at the NFL, if you’re underachieving, sometimes they ask you to take a pay cut. But if you’re overachieving, you’re still supposed to make the same amount of cash. Now, are you bigger than the NFL? There’s a collective bargaining agreement through the players association and NFL that says those things are legal. So there’s really not too much you can do about it. He’s a great player. I hope he has an opportunity to play in the NFL again.”
“I’d say he’s a pretty mellow guy in everyday life. He has his moments where he gets kind of wild like he does on the field, but for the most part he’s a reserved dude.”
Farris got to know Owens when he was a rookie in 2001, spending time in 49ers camp as a starter with T.O. because of injuries to other receivers. Farris became friends with T.O., who bought him a big-screen TV for his dorm room in camp.
“I didn’t have any money and didn’t even have a TV or anything, and I was just going back to my room every night, sitting there reading books and doing whatever,” Farris said. “He caught wind of it and bought me a big-screen TV.”
Once camp ended, Farris said, “I didn’t have any money to get an apartment, and he let me stay at his house and gave me all of his clothes that didn’t fit him anymore. We just developed a great relationship, and he still lives in Atlanta [where Farris also lives during the offseason], and we’ve maintained that friendship over the past six years.”
“I know T.O. to be a nice guy,” Deese said. “A team player. A guy who wants to win real bad. I don’t think he destroyed our locker room. I think he gets a bad rap.”
Gragg stressed that while he didn’t know Owens well – “I probably said one sentence to him” – he didn’t think the receiver was a locker room problem.
“He was not any more or any less vocal than anyone else,” Gragg said. “He has a desire to win, a desire to be in the game. Even in pre-game warm-ups, I saw a guy doing everything possible to get ready to play. Then he would let his gifts be shown on the field and do some amazing things. His loss, I think, will be significant.”
“He kind of mingled with everybody. There wasn’t one guy he hung out with the most,” Young said. “The last two years, we’ve had bowling nights on Mondays, and he’d come and do that. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked. But I know him well enough from being around him for eight years. He’s a great guy once you get to know him.”
“He’s a good man,” 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson said. “He came from a different upbringing than most people, but if you sit down with him one-on-one, he’s a great man, well-mannered, God-fearing.”
Winborn, who was with Owens in San Francisco from 2001 to 2003, said the wideout “wasn’t just a good teammate, he was a great teammate.”
“Nobody practiced harder,” Winborn said. “Whatever team he’s on has playoff potential, just by one man. The guy is phenomenal. Anybody [on the 49ers] that had problems with him was just jealous about his stardom.”
“He opened up his home to me,” said Parrish, a safety. “He’s never done wrong by me.”
“At that time somebody needed to step up, and he was the guy,” said 49ers safety Zack Bronson. “He’s a leader in his own way. Everybody feeds off him.”
“I don’t think he was taunting their team. It was just emotion. I really can’t sit here and say I can knock him.”
“He was one of those guys you’d love to have on your team.”
“Terrell Owens was so competitive in practice that he raised the whole team’s level.”
“I’m a T.O. fan…I had formed a preconceived notion of what he would be like…I decided, ‘I’m gonna try talking to him.’…he wasn’t at all how I expected him to be…”
“I have talked to him (Owens) on and off this season, not just this week. He was at my wedding in Chicago this off-season.
To me, he’s a good person. Some people may try to make it more than it is and might not be willing to deal with him in certain situations. I mean, everybody has his faults. Nobody is perfect. He has been great to me and I don’t have anything wrong with him.
…T.O. knows a lot of the ins and outs of the receiving position. He was out there with Jerry Rice in San Francisco, and they had that great coaching staff and they taught him a lot, and he brought that with him when he came here, and he was willing to share that with us.
…Regardless of what else goes on, when he comes on the football field, it’s all business and all work. He’s one of the best professionals at that position. And to have him at practice every day and to be able to pick his brain, it did nothing but make us better.”
“I would go to battle with T.O. any day of the week. A lot of people don’t understand him.”
“He seemed to be the same guy,” Jenkins said. “He told me to take care of myself and that everything would work out for me. He told me to keep my head up. He was there for me. That’s the same person he’s always been.”
“Personally, he never did anything to me,” Smith said. “He invited the whole team. That says a lot. He’s a great teammate.”
“T.O., he’s a phenomenal player and a good leader. A lot of people in the media try to make him to be a bad guy, which he’s really not. He’s a team player. He works hard.”
Vikings guard Artis Hicks said there was a resentment of Owens from fans, reporters and front-office executives, but not among the players.
“When things were getting rough, he was putting himself against the whole organization. Owner, coaches, secretary. Whoever was upstairs,” said Hicks, who started for the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. “I think he put his back against the wall and cornered himself, and said, ‘OK, it’s me against them.’
“But I loved the guy, man. I tell people that all the time, and people look at me and give me the double take,” Hicks said. “As a teammate, he’s one of the best guys I’ve been around.”
“But it just got to the point where it was just frustrating. It was like, we’re playing the Giants, we’re playing Green Bay, but yet we’re talking about a guy who’s not here that most of us like, but yet we’re not supposed to like him, so you’ve got to watch how you answer the question.”
“Anybody who has 14 touchdowns and 1,200 yards receiving, I don’t think he’s bringing the team down.”
“He’s a wonderful teammate.”
“Misunderstood, because Terrell’s a very complex individual. I had a chance to know him, and a lot of people, once you get to know Terrell, he’s really a good guy. He’s just super competitive. If there was one guy that I wanted to have in the trenches with me, if I was doing anything, it would be that guy.”
“Personally, I like Terrell Owens. He’s a good guy and a great ballplayer, and I can tell you that he has friends on this team.”
“We would love to have T.O. back, we would love to have him back because we love what he brings to the team.”
“The fact that he basically put his career on the line with no net,” 94WIP’s Ike Reese said Thursday on the Mike & Ike Show. “He had to sign a waiver to play in that Super Bowl. He didn’t get cleared medically by the doctor. [Head Coach] Andy [Reid] wasn’t even sure if he should let him or if he’ll be able to play.
He [Owens] wanted to play in the Super Bowl, but I get that though. I love the fact that he put it out there. ‘I signed a waiver that basically let the Eagles or the doctors off the hook.’”
Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown was a teammate of Owens’ in Philadelphia. He dismissed Owens’ reputation as a “cancer” in the locker room and on the field.
“I don’t buy into that,” Brown said. “He may not agree with everything that’s going on sometimes, but he’s not a cancer. He’s a great teammate. Guys love him in the locker room. He wanted to be the best. He was very competitive and he made me a better player every day.
“He always bonded with his teammates. We’re a team and you always stick behind your teammates and he gave us no reason to think otherwise,” cornerback Lito Sheppard said. “He’s a hard-working guy and that’s all you can ask. Winning is the ultimate goal.”
In 2009, addressing reported “derogatory” remarks made about him: “Well, I’m not going to say anything until I hear what he actually said because you guys have twisted what he said plenty of times before.”
“[Critics] are trying to make [Owens] into something he’s not. I felt the same way like everybody else, but then I met the man. Once you know who he is, he’s a great guy.”
“I couldn’t really believe it,” he said. “It’s part of the business and you just try to keep on moving from there. It was a shock. I’m sure a lot of people watching felt the same way I did as far as everything that went on last year. He was hoping to put things in the past.”
“I’ll miss him tremendously. That’s my big brother. He looked out for me on and off the field, taught me how to be a pro. And he listened to me. If I thought he didn’t get better in a practice, I’d say, ‘Hey, T, I didn’t like how you practiced today.’ Then the next practice he’d bust his tail.”
“He’s like the Godfather of the wide receivers.”
“I think, number one, the misconception is that he’s selfish. I don’t think a teammate he’s had in the past that can say he’s a selfish guy. He’s a competitor, number one, he wants to win, but just to say he’s a selfish guy? The other misconception is that he disrupts that locker room and takes the emphasis and all the attention and puts it on himself. Well, he doesn’t do that. The media does that because they like his flash and the stories that he provides, as far as making headlines. It keeps ratings, I believe, pretty good for ESPN and ABC.”
“[Owens] didn’t separate [the locker room], because if we have a player-and-coaches-only meeting and it’s supposed to stay in that room and it gets leaked out that evening and I hear about it the next morning, uh, we got a problem. And trust me, it’s not one of the receivers or players … any names that they said, you know, that was causing chaos, trust me, it wasn’t any of those players. And, uh, we located the mole.”
“When Sam Hurd came to camp last year as an undrafted rookie, he got a lot of tutoring from Owens. That hasn’t changed, with Owens still offering plenty of advice. “He’s like a philosopher,” Hurd said. “He comes in so many ways and puts it in perspective that you can understand it.”
Said Bennett, now in his second season with the Chicago Bears: “T.O. was one of my favorite teammates and he told me, ‘Whatever you do, watch (number) 82. He knows how to play some football.’ So that’s what I did. I watched Jason and there were some things I was able to take from him that I use now.”
“He was just trying to get us going,” said right guard Marco Rivera, among those Owens was seen yelling at. “He basically said, ‘We’re going to win this game.’
“Once I met him and kind of got to hang around him a little bit, I’ve drawn my own conclusion that Terrell Owens is not the person that’s portrayed in the media.”
“The whole situation is completely overblown. T.O. was nothing but a great teammate in Dallas. He was a great person for the team, he was a great person for the organization, and he was a great person in the community.”
“He sent me a text last night telling me he was no longer a Dallas Cowboy, and I thought he just wanted to talk and was joking, but we talked and he was very shocked, so am I, and we’re just surprised by it, this was like in boxing; a rabbit punch from out of nowhere.”
“He will be fine, he’s a competitor, no one wants to win like he does, and the only thing you can blame him for is wanting to win, and so I guess you can blame me for that too.”
“I don’t know, I never understood all the hype and controversy about him being a distraction, because he’s been a great teammate, at least from my experience.” Ratliff continued, “I guess he’s the fall guy, I just don’t understand it, and I don’t know what else to say.”
“He’s been that way about certain situations, he’s a sensitive guy – and not in a bad way – he wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
“I think he’s a great player, a great teammate…I sort of modeled myself by the way he played sometimes.”
“I think he was a great teammate, he was really good in the locker room, real funny guy, I mean, really serious when it came down to playing football. I mean, what else do you need in a player?”
“I mean you just said it, the media said that stuff, T.O. isn’t saying it. What’s crazy is, for you to say it like that shows you guys know (the fans) that the media just wants to blow it out of proportion because part of it is their job and they want to have something to talk about. Is it right, is fair to us? No. But nobody cares about that, they just think that we’re supposed to go out there and play football. But, you know, we’re not going to allow the media to come into the locker room and stir up a mess, that’s basically what they’re doing. They want to stir up some things to tear us apart but you know that’s part of the job, this is not our first rodeo. As long as we know that T.O. is humble and we’re not at each others’ throat, it’s fine.”
“I’m just disappointed because we didn’t see that coming,” James said. “He’s a good friend of mine and one of the best teammates I’ve had.”
Dolphins linebacker Akin Ayodele, who played alongside Owens with the Cowboys, said he enjoyed having him as a teammate.
“He pushes everybody in his group, and everybody elevates their level with him around,” Ayodele said. “He even made the secondary better.”
“I’d take him,” Zach Thomas agrees. “I want to win.”
“I will have a problem if Terrell Owens is not back next year.”
“I know T.O., played with him, and consider him to be a friend. I think it takes more than one person to make it a bad locker room, if you will. And I say that because you’ve got to realize you’re dealing with the NFL.
You’re not dealing with weak-hearted men. You’re dealing with men that are used to coaches in their face cursing them out, saying a lot of bad things to them, a lot of language that you can’t say on the radio. So you’re used to that type of thing.
So I just don’t buy into that any football player can verbally or really physically say one thing or do one thing to another football player to divide the team.”
“I’m very surprised. Looking at the way they thought he separated the locker room, it was bogus to me. But that’s the way things tend to go,” Henry said. “It was funny because we’d watch it on television in the locker room and say ‘That didn’t even happen.’ And the one thing is you could tell if it had happened because everybody would be quiet and say nothing, but we just laughed it off. T.O. is definitely a great teammate.”
“With him I didn’t think that would happen because he’s a high-caliber receiver, he scores double-digit touchdowns every year and you ask the guys in the locker room, he’s a great teammate to have,” Henry said. “That’s why looking at things from the outside in, it was a little bit different. With us, everybody was tight, he kept the locker room together, he had functions at his house, invited everybody over and stuff like that. Even when they interviewed the guys when it happened there in Dallas, they was like, I couldn’t believe it. Nobody could really believe it.”
Several Cowboys still consider Owens a close friend. About an hour after Owens’ media session, Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman described Owens as “a role model teammate.”
Sitting at a locker a few feet away, veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn figured his teammate had reason to be upset.
“Every small thing he does,” Glenn said to reporters, “you guys write about it.”
“It means a lot,” Brown said yesterday. “He’s a classy guy, he’s been one since I’ve been on the team. Every part, small or big, he acknowledges it, whether it’s me or not. That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Hamlin said Owens’ negative effect on team chemistry was overblown. While Owens enjoys attention, Hamlin said he has earned it with his play.
“It wasn’t drama with him being there,” Hamlin said. “He’s a guy who thrives off of that, but at the same time, he gets the attention because of the type of player he is, not just from off the field.”
As far as T.O. as a teammate, “He really wasn’t that distracting,” McBriar said. “He was one of the first guys to congratulate me for making this. I can only say good things about him.”
“I really appreciated what Terrell brought to the table,” Fitzpatrick said after Wednesday’s practice. “He brought a lot of experience, and his work ethic was tremendous.
We didn’t ever have any problems, and there were open lines of communication on the sideline. He certainly wasn’t shy about suggesting stuff, or letting you know he was open on a play, but that’s part of the quarterback-wide receiver relationship.
I can only speak from last year and how things went between me and Terrell, but it was nothing but great for me to have him as a teammate and to have him out there catching passes.”
Johnson was a teammate of Owens during the 2008 season. He calls Owens “a big brother” who doesn’t deserve the bad teammate label that’s almost certainly played a part in his NFL exile.
“When he came in (to Buffalo), I was like, ‘OK, I wonder how this dude is gonna be, like real arrogant and cocky, he’s T.O. ‘I love me some me.’ But when he came in, he was the best teammate ever. He worked hard.
“I love practice … The way he worked was insane,” Johnson said. “Every day at practice he’s out there challenging DBs one-on-one.”
“There were so many things that he helped me with that I probably can’t pick just one,” Hardy said. “Getting off the jam, how to come ready for practice, how to do it every single day, every single play, even when you know you’re not getting the ball or when things go wrong.”
“Oh man, T.O., T.O. is a lot different than what everybody said he was. The same type of persona that you would think, that you get off the TV and from the media, he’s the total opposite, actually. He’s a good team member, you know? And he just wants to win. Anytime you want to go out and fault a guy for winning and playing this game, something is wrong.”
“He’s actually been the exact opposite of what everyone had said before. He’s been a great teammate. He’s very quiet in the locker room and at practice, he just goes about his business. Works extremely hard at practice and does everything he can to help us. He’s going to help us win.”
On twitter: “I’m ready to vouch for you and let them know how great of a teammate you were in Buffalo.”
“Just knowing (Carroll’s) style and the way he goes about teaching and leading his team, I just thought T.O. would be a great fit,” Palmer said. “I really enjoyed playing with (Owens). It was a great relationship when I was there, and I just let coach know I thought he would fit in really well with his style. I think they’ll have a lot of success together.”
“No it wasn’t as bad as it seems. TO and Chad catch a lot more negative publicity then they are due. I would actually like to see TO get one more chance. Sign the dude to a minimum contract and let him prove himself.”
“All I can say about T.O. is this — I’m going to jump out a limb here — I’ve got a lot of respect for T.O., OK? Always have,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a football player, he practices hard. I think he’s got a really good heart, always have. We have a good relationship.”
as Andy Roddick once said on twitter…
“Just confirming a story w details Ed ….. Didn’t even have to use the infamous “a source”. Go figure”
“When I ran the first time to the star, I was just being creative and having fun. There was the star below me and the opening in the roof above me. My intentions were not bad ones. But then after Emmitt Smith did it after Dallas scored, I felt I had to go back a second time after I scored. The second time I did do it out of spite. But I didn’t expect it to create such a stir. I guess I’ll never live that down.”