|Born:||December 7, 1973|
Alexander City, Alabama
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||224 lb (102 kg)|
|High school:||Benjamin Russell|
(Alexander City, Alabama)
|NFL Draft:||1996 / Round: 3 / Pick: 89|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Terrell Eldorado Owens (; born December 7, 1973), nicknamed T.O., is a former American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 16 seasons. A six-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time first-team All-Pro, Owens holds or shares several NFL records. He ranks third in career receiving yards at 15,934 and third in receiving touchdowns at 153.
After playing college football and basketball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Owens was selected in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Owens was a member of the team for seven seasons until he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 following conflict with the 49ers front office. Two years later, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys before being released following three seasons with the team. Owens' NFL career subsequently concluded after one season each with the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. He last played professionally for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League (IFL) in 2012.
While regarded as one of the best players of his era, Owens created a significant amount of controversy during his professional career and also attracted attention for his flamboyant touchdown celebrations. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Owens was born to L.C. Russell and Marilyn Heard in Alexander City, Alabama. He grew up with three other siblings and was raised by his mother and grandmother. He enjoyed watching football, especially his favorite player, Jerry Rice. However, Owens' grandmother initially forbade him from playing sports until high school. Owens attended Benjamin Russell High School, where he participated in football, baseball, track, and basketball. Owens did not start on his high school football team until his junior year, when one of his teammates missed a game due to illness.
Owens is the son of Terrell Sr. and Marilyn Heard. Owens is the father of two daughters and two sons, by four different mothers. In September 2011, Owens was sued by Melanie Paige Smith III, the mother of his daughter, for failure to pay child support, but the case was settled prior to trial. Owens insisted that the reason for the missed child support payments was due to his wages decreasing in the NFL and Smith was aware of his circumstances.
On a May 8, 2012 episode of Dr. Phil, three of the four mothers to his children accused Owens of either coming up short in his monthly child support payments or not paying at all. Owens said he was paying some $45,000 per month in child support at one time.
While enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Owens played basketball, football, and ran track. Owens played in the 1995 NCAA Basketball Tournament. He became a starter during his sophomore year. Owens caught 38 passes for 724 yards and eight touchdowns during his sophomore year, and 34 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns during his junior year. Having gained respect in the NCAA, Owens faced double coverage more frequently during his senior year, and was limited to 43 receptions for 667 yards and one touchdown. Owens previously held the single-season receptions record at Chattanooga until it was broken in 2007 by Alonzo Nix. In his senior year, he anchored the school's 4 × 100 relay team at the NCAA championship. He also participated in the Senior Bowl, a college all-star game played by college seniors, in preparation for the NFL Draft.
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yard split||20-yard split||20-yard shuttle||Vertical jump||Broad jump|
|6 ft 2+7⁄8 in
|10 ft 0 in|
|All values from NFL Combine|
Because he played his college football at UT-Chattanooga, an FCS school that did not have a winning season during his time there, Owens' visibility to NFL scouts was lessened, and he dropped to the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft, where the San Francisco 49ers drafted him 89th overall. Owens played his first professional game against the New Orleans Saints, where he served as a member of the 49ers' special teams. His first two catches were recorded against the Carolina Panthers on September 22, 1996, for a total of six yards. His first touchdown came on October 20 against the Cincinnati Bengals; in the fourth quarter he caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Steve Young that tied a game eventually won by the 49ers 28-21.
After the 49ers' top receiver Jerry Rice suffered a torn ACL early in the 1997 NFL season, Owens took Rice's place in the lineup, beating out former 1st round pick J.J. Stokes for the job. He and quarterback Young helped the 49ers win 13 games that season; Owens finished with 936 receiving yards and eight touchdowns; he added a touchdown in San Francisco's playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings.
1998 was another 12-4 season for the 49ers and the first 1,000-yard year for Owens, as he caught 67 balls for 1,097 yards and 14 touchdowns; he even had a rushing touchdown in October against the St. Louis Rams. In the Wildcard playoff game, the 49ers faced the Green Bay Packers who had beaten them five straight times, three of them playoff games. Owens struggled, dropping a number of passes as a result of being briefly blinded by late-afternoon sun. Despite this, Young kept throwing to Owens and he redeemed himself by catching the game-winning touchdown (immortalized by the impassioned game call of 49ers radio play-by-play announcer Joe Starkey) for a 30-27 comeback victory.
In 1999, Owens had 60 catches for 754 yards and four touchdowns. Young retired after the 1999 season after he was unable to pass medical tests as a result of a concussion sustained that season, and Jeff Garcia was named the 49ers' starting quarterback. In 2000, the 49ers managed to win only six games. However, Owens had a record-breaking day on December 17, 2000 with 20 catches for 283 yards in a 17-0 49ers win over the Chicago Bears. The record-breaking 20 receptions surpassed a 50-year-old mark held by Tom Fears (it has since been surpassed by Brandon Marshall, who made 21 receptions in a game in 2009). Owens finished the year with 1,451 receiving yards and thirteen touchdowns.
The 2001 49ers had a 12-4 record but were defeated by the Packers in a Wild Card playoff game. Owens finished with 16 touchdown catches (half the 32 thrown by Garcia that season) and 1,412 receiving yards. The 49ers followed up in 2002 with a 10-6 record and their 17th NFC West title; in this season, Owens had 100 catches for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 49ers hosted the New York Giants in the Wild Card playoff round, and after falling behind 38-14, the 49ers erupted to 25 unanswered points; Owens had two touchdown catches and caught two 2-point conversions in the 49ers' 39-38 win. However, they were shot down 31-6 against the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who held Owens to only four catches for 35 yards.
Coach Steve Mariucci was fired and former Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson took over. The ensuing season in 2003 proved subpar as the 49ers finished 7-9. It was here that Owens decided to leave. In the summer of 2004, when Garcia, who had been released in the off-season, was a member of the Cleveland Browns, and Owens was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, Owens appeared in an interview for Playboy magazine, where he was asked about long-standing rumors that his former teammate Garcia was homosexual, to which he implied he thought there might be truth to the rumors.
Although Owens was eager to leave the 49ers, the 49ers asserted that Owens' previous agent, David Joseph, had missed the deadline to void the final years of his contract with the team. The National Football League Players Association and Owens disputed this assertion, contending that the deadline referred to by the 49ers was not the applicable deadline. On March 4, 2004, San Francisco, believing it still held Owens' rights, attempted to trade Owens to the Baltimore Ravens for a second-round pick in the 2004 draft. However, Owens challenged the 49ers' right to make the deal. Owens assumed that he would become a free agent on March 3, and did not believe that the earlier deadline was applicable. Hence, he negotiated with other teams in advance of his expected free agency, and reached a contract agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles, whose fan base strongly supported Owens in his desire to play for the team. The NFLPA filed a grievance on his behalf.
Before an arbitrator could make a ruling on Owens' grievance, the NFL and the three teams involved in the controversy reached a settlement on March 16, 2004. The Ravens got their second-round pick back from San Francisco, and the 49ers in turn received a conditional fifth-round pick and defensive end Brandon Whiting from the Eagles in exchange for the rights to Owens. Owens' contract with the Eagles was worth about $49 million for seven years, including a $10 million signing bonus.
In September 2004, Owens released an autobiography: Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon, which he co-wrote with bestselling author Stephen Singular.
On December 19, 2004, Owens sustained a severely sprained ankle and a fractured fibula when Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams took him down with a horse-collar tackle; Williams' horse-collars resulted in injuries to several NFL players, and the horse-collar tackle was later prohibited. Owens' injury required surgery, including insertion of a screw into his leg, and Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder stated that he would miss the rest of the season, with only an outside chance of playing in the Super Bowl if the Eagles advanced.
After the Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game, Owens defied the advice of his doctors and played in Super Bowl XXXIX. Owens' trainer, James "Buddy" Primm, helped bring Owens back much sooner with the use of Microcurrent and a hyperbaric chamber. Owens started in the game and had nine receptions for 122 yards, but the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots. After the game, Owens stated that the media would have called Brett Favre "a warrior" for playing with such an injury, but that "For me, they said I was selfish."
In April 2005, Owens announced that he had hired a new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and indicated that he would seek to have his contract with the Eagles renegotiated. Owens made $9 million in 2004 (most of which was bonus money, as his base salary was only $660,000), and was slated to make $4.5 million in 2005. This two-year amount did not place Owens in the top ten paid wide receivers playing. He also made a comment that he "wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl." The remark, directed at quarterback Donovan McNabb, caused a controversy to heat up between them. On July 1, Owens' relationship with the Eagles became even more tense after Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and club president Joe Banner denied Owens permission to play basketball in a summer league under the auspices of the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings.
Owens, with the negotiating help of Rosenhaus, continued to lobby for a new contract. Owens and Rosenhaus met with Eagles head coach Andy Reid and president Joe Banner, but no agreement was reached (this was in line with the Eagles' policy against contract renegotiations). Owens threatened to hold out of training camp until a deal was reached, but reported to camp on time. When the 2005 football season began, Owens was in the second year of a seven-year, $49 million contract. However, the contract was heavily back-loaded, and while the $49 million figure was routinely touted by the sports media as an example of Owens' greed, the money guaranteed to him was under the annual average for a top-tier wide receiver.
In 2005, after a game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 9 in which the Eagles lost, Owens was seen by reporters wearing a throwback jersey of former Cowboys player Michael Irvin on the team plane. On November 2, Owens was involved in an argument in the training room with team ambassador Hugh Douglas, which led to a fistfight between the two. The argument was reportedly started after Douglas said there were players on the team who were faking injuries.
During an ESPN interview the next day, Owens made several comments that Eagles fans perceived as verbal jabs at McNabb and the team. In this interview, when asked whether he agreed with a comment made by analyst Michael Irvin saying that the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre was on the team, Owens replied, "That's a good assessment. I would agree with that." Owens went on to state that if Favre were the Eagles quarterback, "I just feel like we'd be in a better situation." Owens stated on his radio show that his remarks were taken out of context, noting that he had just stated two questions prior that the Eagles' record would also be better had McNabb not been injured. While he did not comment on Owens' slight at the time, McNabb later stated in an interview that "It was definitely a slap in the face to me."
Two days after the interview aired, the Eagles suspended Owens indefinitely for "conduct detrimental to the team." According to Owens' agent Drew Rosenhaus, head coach Andy Reid demanded that Owens make a public apology to McNabb. An apology was drafted by Rosenhaus, but Owens balked at reading a specific apology to McNabb, and crossed that part of the statement out. The apology he read on TV did not address McNabb directly. The following day, Reid announced that Owens' suspension would be increased to four games and that he would be deactivated for the remainder of the season.
On November 8, Owens and Rosenhaus held a news conference at Owens' residence, where he apologized to the fans, the team, and McNabb specifically, and also made an appeal for reinstatement to the team. The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the Eagles, claiming violation of the sport's collective bargaining agreement, but Owens' suspension and deactivation were upheld by an arbitrator.
On March 18, 2006, the Dallas Cowboys 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 eight receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown. The following week against the Redskins, Owens broke his finger while blocking, and was forced to leave the game. He had a plate screwed into the finger, and returned to play the team's next game against the Tennessee Titans, where he accounted for 88 receiving yards.
The following week, Owens made his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia, where he played against his former teammate, Donovan McNabb. Upon his return, Owens was met by a hail of angry jeers 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 Cowboys defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 38-28, owner Jerry Jones revealed that Owens had injured a tendon on the same finger that he had broken earlier in the season. 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.
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 touchdown 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 Cowboys 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 second 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 postgame press conference in a now-infamous incident.
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 two catches for 45 yards in the game. Owens caught his first touchdown pass with Buffalo in a 33-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 20, 2009. However, the following week, Owens was held without a catch against the New Orleans Saints, ending a 185-game streak of consecutive games with a catch that was the longest streak among active players at the time.
Owens had his best game with the Bills in a 15-18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, with nine receptions for 197 yards and a touchdown. Owens and Ryan Fitzpatrick set a Bills record for longest touchdown reception when Fitzpatrick connected with Owens for a 98-yard TD, which also became Owens' longest career touchdown reception. He also became the oldest player to have a touchdown reception of more than 76 yards (35 years, 350 days). Against the Atlanta Falcons in week 16, Owens became the sixth player to reach 1,000 receptions in a career after catching an 8-yard pass from Brian Brohm. He finished his lone season with Buffalo with 55 catches for 829 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns, and also rushed 6 times for 54 yards and a touchdown.
On July 27, 2010, Owens signed a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. It was reportedly worth $2 million, with another $2 million possible from bonuses. He joined Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson, both of whom lobbied for the Bengals to sign Owens. With the retirement of Isaac Bruce, Owens spent his last active season in the NFL as the active career leader in receiving yards. 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, some of which went to a charity of Bryant's choice.
Against the Cleveland Browns in Week4, he had a spectacular game with ten receptions, 222 yards and a touchdown of 78 yards. 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 offseason 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.
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 joined 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 the Wichita Wild 50-30. His statistics were: eight games played; 35 catches; 420 yards; 52.5 yards per game; 12 yards per catch; 45 longest catch; and ten touchdowns.
On May 29, 2012, Owens was released. The Wranglers' co-owners stated Owens was released for showing a lack of effort both on and off the field.
On January 13, 2015, in an interview with Sports Illustrated Now, Owens stated that he had not retired and that, after a hiatus, he had trained with numerous NFL players during the 2014 NFL season and the offseason. He did not state when he planned to return to the NFL.
On June 19, 2018 the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL) added Owens to their negotiation list. On July 14, Owens activated his 10-day signing window with the Eskimos, requiring the team to offer him a contract in ten days, else he will become a CFL free agent and be eligible to sign with any of the eight other CFL teams. On July 20, 2018 the Eskimos dropped Owens from their negotiation list. On August 5, 2018, a day after his Hall of Fame induction, Owens worked out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
On November 15, 2004, Owens, wearing a Philadelphia Eagles uniform, appeared with popular television actress Nicollette Sheridan (of the ABC series Desperate Housewives in character as Edie Britt) in an introductory skit which opened that evening's Monday Night Football telecast, in which Owens and the Eagles played the Cowboys at Texas Stadium. Some observers (especially then-Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy) condemned the skit as being sexually suggestive because of Sheridan removing a towel, and ABC later apologized for airing it. However, on March 14, 2005, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that the skit did not violate decency standards, because it contained no outright nudity or foul language.
Some media outlets in Dallas reported on the morning of September 27, 2006, that Owens had tried to kill himself by intentionally ingesting an overdose of hydrocodone, a pain medication. A police report filed on the night of September 26 seemed to confirm the attempt, saying that Owens's publicist, Kim Etheredge, found him unresponsive with an empty bottle of pain killers, pried two pills from his mouth, and called 9-1-1, after which an ambulance transported him four blocks from his Deep Ellum condo to Baylor University Medical Center.
According to the police report, Owens and Etheredge both said he was depressed, and Owens answered "yes" when asked whether he had intended to harm himself. Owens' publicist, however, refuted the report, stating that Owens had suffered an allergic reaction to the medication combined with a dietary supplement. ESPN reported that about half the police report was blacked out, including the phrases "attempting suicide by prescription pain medication" and "a drug overdose".
Owens left the hospital later on September 27. At a news conference after his release, Owens denied having made a suicide attempt, stating that he expected to join the team for practice the next morning. He stated that he was "not depressed" and was "very happy to be here", and denied that doctors had pumped his stomach, calling speculation to that effect "definitely untrue". The press conference took place after Owens had run routes and caught passes with the Cowboys at the team's practice facility in Valley Ranch.
Afterwards, Owens' publicist stated that she felt the police had taken advantage of Owens. The president of the union representing Dallas police officers subsequently demanded an apology from Owens and his publicist for her comments, which he said damaged the reputations of three patrolmen. On Thursday, September 28, the Dallas Police Department reported the incident to be an "accidental overdose" and ended their investigation.
The pain medication Owens had ingested had been prescribed to him for a broken finger he had suffered in a Week2 victory against the Washington Redskins. Bill Parcells had noted in a press conference a few days before the incident that the medication Owens had been taking had made him sick, and he had been prescribed a milder pain killer.
After the December 16, 2006 game against the Atlanta Falcons, Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall stated that Owens spat in his face after a play early in the game. Game officials and reporters were unaware of the incident and Owens was not asked about it until his post-game interview with the NFL Network, when he confirmed it. Owens said, "I got frustrated and I apologize for that. It was a situation where he kept hugging me and getting in my face. He had a lot of words, I didn't. I just wanted to come and prove I'm not a guy to be schemed with." Hall said that he lost all respect for Owens. When made aware that Hall was saying Owens did it deliberately, Owens said that it was an accident that occurred while they were in each other's face, talking trash. Despite no video evidence, the NFL fined Owens $35,000 for the incident. After initially refusing to take a phone call from Owens, Hall was convinced by Deion Sanders to speak with Owens two days after the incident and later stated that they "cleared it all out."
Owens was not voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first two years of eligibility, despite being statistically ranked near the top of every receiving category in the history of the NFL. Commentators attributed Owens' exclusion to his issues off the field.
In 2018, Owens was voted into the Hall of Fame. He subsequently caused controversy in his induction by skipping the official celebration in Canton, Ohio, and instead choosing to host his own celebration in McKenzie Arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, his alma mater. He is the only inductee of the hall to skip his induction and instead host a separate induction ceremony.
During his playing career, Owens attracted attention for his flamboyant celebrations after scoring touchdowns, some of which resulted in fines from the NFL front office.
|Led the league|
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Owens is depicted in a photographic work by contemporary African-American artist Hank Willis Thomas entitled Liberation of T.O.: Ain't no way I'm go'n in back ta'work fa'massa in dat darn field (2004). The work was featured in "Frequency", the Studio Museum in Harlem's 2006 exhibition of emerging artists.
Owens rapped in a single titled "I'm Back", available for download on his website.
Outside of his football career, Owens also appeared in various commercials, television shows, and films. Owens played himself, as a wide receiver wearing #82 for the fictional Miami Sharks, in the 1999 film Any Given Sunday. In 2003, he appeared in a commercial for the ESPY Awards where he caught a home run ball from Barry Bonds in McCovey Cove. Owens appeared in an episode of Punk'd, starring Ashton Kutcher, which is based on his November 19, 2005 suspension.
In June 2009, Owens starred in ABC's reincarnation of Superstars, a sports competition show from the 70s where celebrities are paired with professional athletes. The first episode is rumored to have ended in controversy, as evidenced by a leaked clip of partner supermodel Joanna Krupa calling Owens a "prima donna".
On September 5, 2017, Owens was announced as one of the celebrities set to compete on season 25 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer Cheryl Burke and was the eighth contestant eliminated.
In the summer of 2009, VH1 premiered The T.O. Show, which followed Owens in his personal life off the football field. The show was renewed for two additional seasons.
In September 2013, Owens launched a podcast on the Sideshow Network with co-hosts comedian Alonzo Bodden and former-Survivor contestant and podcast host, Rob Cesternino. Shows are released each Wednesday and the discussion centers on the week's NFL games and news. Comedian Roy Wood, Jr. has been a regular guest.