"Yes, this is real T.O. The one and only. Get your popcorn ready!" Owens said on Thursday late afternnon when calling into the station, shocking Jon Marks and his former teammate Ike Reese.
"I had a friend that informed me that you guys were having a T.O., Donovan debate," Owens said, somewhat incorrectly, as the discussion wasn't necessarily about him and McNabb, but moreso about his contract situation and complex relationship with the Eagles as a whole.
"Obviously, I could take a higher road and say that I should take some blame," Owens said.
"Understanding the moving parts, I think the fans didn't really understand what the situation was. I had acquired a new agent in Rosenhaus at that time. I had already negotiated a contract under the previous agent. Rosenhaus hadn't negotiated the contract that I was currently under. He basically took over the contract I had. Once I acquired him, we played that year out, went to the Super Bowl, pretty much put my career on the line with the injury I sustained in December. Everyone knows about the rehab process I went through. I had to sign a waiver to play in the Super Bowl. Even management tried to say it wasn't a wavier sign, and for people to believe that, you have to understand everything that went into that and the factors upon me playing in the Super Bowl without any proper documentation of paperwork. If I would have played in that Super Bowl without signing that waiver, the organization would have liable because the medical doctor didn't clear me.
"So I had to get this waiver signed in order to play in that Super Bowl."Let's go to training camp. My agent at that time looked at my contract and said I was outperforming, and where I was statistically and amongst the receivers, he felt like I should have been one of the top two, top three paid receivers and I felt the same way. We didn't go to the media to try and make it a me forcing the managements hand to pay me or what have you. We went behind closed doors to try to talk about it and see if we could get something worked out. That didn't happen. At this point in time, I don't know who to believe, whether it's management or my agent since I am no longer with Rosenhaus. I was told management leaked it out to make me look bad that I was being greedy about wanting a new contract. That was going to turn the fans against me. From my understanding, that's what the approach was."
Owens went on to talk more about his relationship with McNabb, specifically.
"Considering what I had done for the Super Bowl, that will let you know I put the team first," Owens said. "It wasn't really about me putting myself before the team. I put my career on the line."I understand you don't want to bring up Donovan's name, but he endorsed other guys such as Westbrook when their contract came up and when it came to me, he did the polar opposite. That's where I think things got off the track with us, that was one of the instances… For me, I came there to do exactly what I did, to help get the city and our football team to the Super Bowl. As far as him, whether it was jealousy or envy or whatever, the stadium having the TO chant, that rubbing him the wrong way, him feeling that the city was more invested in me being there versus how he got there with the whole Rickey Williams stuff, that had nothing to do with me. For me, that was personal. I had no ill feelings, nothing against Donovan till I start seeing the little things that were being pointed out and some of the things that were pointed towards me.
"Ask the guys in the locker room. I was not an issue, I put that on my grandmother. I put that on God.
It all started in 2004, when Owens -- a San Franisco 49er at the time -- had an issue with his agent missing the deadline to void his contract. The 49ers tried to trade T.O. to the Ravens, but Owens did not want that. Eventually he was acquired by the Eagles in a three-team deal and signed to a new contract.
In 2004, T.O. became the star of Philadelphia, catching 77 balls for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games, despite having a somewhat rocky relationship with quarterback Donovan McNabb. In December of 2004, Owens fractured his fibula and was expected to miss the remainder of the season and most likely, postseason. But when his team reached the Super Bowl, Owens defied doctors orders and played, somehow catching 9 balls for 122 yards in the loss.
The following offseason, April 2005, Owens announced that he had hired a new agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus indicated Owens wants to have his contract renegotiated with the Eagles after his made $9 million in 2004 and was expected to make $4.5 million in 2005. While he was in the second-year of his seven year, $49 million deal, he was not among the top 10 highest paid wide receivers in terms of annual average guaranteed dollars.
After playing seven games with the Eagles in 2005, T.O. was suspended indefinitely for "conduct detrimental to the team," which included bad mouthing and not apologizng to McNabb and a fight with Hugh Douglas. That following offseason the Eagles released Owens.
"I understand that this is controversial," Banner said on January 30th, 2020. "I certainly wish we would have been able to keep him on the team in a way that wasn't divisive or damaging to the team. To this day there's been no player—and that includes all the Peyton Manning's and Tom Brady's of the world—who have signed a long-term deal that was re-done after one year. And the fact of the matter is, despite the way it was portrayed by some, we paid T.O. a fair market deal. At that time the top wide receiver in the league was making seven a half, eight million dollars per year and his deal was just under seven and a half million dollars per year.
"So from our perspective, the message that we would be sending and the risk to other players—and we had a number of players on the team that were great players, that could have come in at any moment and demanded new contracts. And even though the public didn't really see a lot of divineness until the contract situation became public, there were things in 2004 that were concerning to us. They hadn't blown up as the major controversies. We did know, obviously, he had a history of being a little bit divisive and we had seen some things in 2004 that, although we overcame them, were concerning to us in terms of the future and the risk of how it may affect the team and the locker room.
"I was concerned about the precedent it would create after one year, which was a fair-market deal. People don't remember, or even ever even knew, the three year contract he signed with Dallas paid him over the next three years the exact same amount of money he was due over the next three years with Philadelphia. So he became a free-agent, 31 teams got to bid on him, and none of them paid him anymore than we were going to pay him. He obviously converted some non guaranteed to guaranteed money by going to Dallas, but we probably would have been willing to do that if that was the only issue. The way he or his agents had presented that to us it was a lot more complicated. They really wanted to rip up the deal and start from scratch."