A star is born: Owens signs with the Cowboys (2024)

  • Associated Press

Mar 18, 2006, 08:17 PM

IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones was finishing yet another explanation of why he thinks Terrell Owens will be on his best behavior with the Dallas Cowboys when his new star receiver chimed in.

"Jerry, I know what's expected of me," Owens said. "I won't let you down."

The Cowboys sure hope so, especially since they didn't get it in writing.

The receiver who has proven he can wreak havoc on or off the field signed a three-year, $25 million contract with Dallas on Saturday. The deal includes a $5 million bonus and $5 million salary this season, but no added penalties should Owens pull any of the stunts that caused so many problems for his two previous teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles.

His relationship with the Eagles soured only months after he led them to the Super Bowl, leading to a bitter breakup that ended with his release Tuesday.

"It's more than his word, it's about logic," Jones said. "This is an opportunity for him to basically put it all together and come in here and have a very positive experience. ... Whoever got him after those two experiences was going to get a more knowledgeable and educated player."

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said Jones never requested anything beyond a standard NFL contract. Jones might not have wanted to bring it up considering Rosenhaus said there were six other teams also aggressively seeking Owens.

"There was so much interest in Terrell, there was no reason to do anything but that kind of deal," Rosenhaus said.

After his windfall this season, Owens will get salaries of $8 million in 2007 and $7 million in 2008. All told, it's a lot more than he would've made under the contract with Philadelphia that began his bad blood with the organization.

"All's well that ends well," Rosenhaus said. "He's a big, big winner and so are the Dallas Cowboys."

Jones said team officials began kicking around the idea of acquiring Owens in November, once it was apparent he wouldn't be back with the Eagles. They interviewed his friends and enemies, then talked extensively to him before deciding he was a risk worth taking.

"The more we looked, the more we became convinced he'd be a good fit," team vice president Stephen Jones said.

There's no questioning his talent -- Owens has consistently put up statistics the Cowboys have lacked since Michael Irvin was in the prime of his career in the mid-1990s.

It's his attitude that's an issue. Owens has badmouthed his last two quarterbacks even though both were Pro Bowl players, squabbled with coaches and gotten angry at his bosses for not properly celebrating personal milestones such as his 100th career touchdown.

"I'm going in with my eyes wide open," said his newest quarterback, Drew Bledsoe. "I know there have been some issues. But at the same time, going forward from here, I don't see how it helps us to dwell on some of the stuff that's gone on in the past."

Owens will join a locker room lacking veteran leaders who might be able to keep him in check. Captains Dan Campbell and Dat Nguyen already are gone, as is La'Roi Glover, another calming influence.

But Owens, who has been away from the team setting since November, vowed he won't need any help getting along, saying he's had plenty of time to think about the problems he's caused.

"I'm going to put those things behind me," Owens said. "They can only make a man stronger, wiser. For me, that's what it's done. I'll be a better teammate, a better person, a better man in life."

Perhaps the biggest test of that will be his relationship with his new coach, Bill Parcells.

The two have spoken only by telephone. Parcells missed the news conference Saturday because he was in Florida. Don't read anything into it, though, because Parcells hasn't attended any news conferences for free-agent signings since joining the club three-plus years ago.

"Bill is very much on the page here, very much," Jones insisted. "We're not just in the business here of walking problems through the door to create challenges. We've got enough on our own."

Jones also tried to douse speculation that Owens' arrival could hasten Parcells' departure.

"I don't think it's fair to say if this doesn't work, Bill's not going to be here to live with it," said Jones, who in January gave Parcells a raise and an extension through 2007. "I don't think it's going to have any bearing at all to how long Bill is going to be here."

Part of the gamble with Owens coming to Dallas is whether fans will embrace him. Many are still bitter about the September 2000 game when, while playing for the 49ers, Owens celebrated each of two touchdown catches at Texas Stadium by running to the team's star logo at midfield. Safety George Teague secured a spot in team lore by decking Owens after the second one.

Then, on a Monday night game in 2004 best remembered for his pregame skit with a "Desperate Housewives" actress, Owens celebrated another score by tapping on a logo in the end zone.

Owens said he and Jones already have discussed his future TD celebrations. With an arm on Jones' back, he smiled wide and said, "I will embrace the star."

Until the Eagles banished him after nine games last season, Owens had at least 75 receptions and 1,100 yards receiving in five straight seasons. The last time a Cowboys receiver hit both figures in one season was Irvin in 1997.

Irvin and Owens are good enough friends that they spoke before Owens decided to join the Cowboys. Irvin is so happy for his pal and his former team that he said, "This move for Dallas put them -- and I'll say it -- in the Super Bowl."

That's quite a leap considering the Cowboys were 9-7 last season. They've missed the playoffs the last two years and haven't won a playoff game in nine years.

A star is born: Owens signs with the Cowboys (2024)


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