The memories of Terrell Owens as a member of the San Francisco 49ers have gotten fuzzy over the years. The tearful catch against Green Bay at what was then known as 3Com Park, running out to the Dallas Cowboys Star and getting knocked off by George Teague, setting an NFL record for receptions on Jerry Rice’s last game with the team, and of course all the sideline tantrums and bizarre quotes.
Though he tried his best to outshine Rice during the Hall of Famer’s swan song, Owens had an even worse sendoff, breaking his clavicle in a meaningless game against the Eagles in December after catching one pass for 20 yards. Owens couldn’t wait to get away from Jeff Garcia and his San Francisco prison, and the 49ers couldn’t wait to get rid of him. Although Owens put some amazing statistical seasons together, he never seemed happy after leaving the Bay, and the 49ers, until last year, never recovered from losing him. And in terms of receiver talent, the Niners still haven’t found someone who matched Owens from 1996-2003.
God, that was a long time ago. Owens is still around, and as he looks back at his career he’s probably idealized that time with the 49ers. He wants to reconcile. He wants his red and white “81” jersey back.
Owens was interviewed by Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis on 95.7 FM “The Game”. It won’t air until Monday, but I received the transcript via email:
Would you have been a better fit with the 49ers (in response to the team taking a chance on Randy Moss):
Owens: “Would I have loved to have ended my career there, obviously signing a 1 or 2 year deal, absolutely. I think that definitely would’ve been enough motivation for me to perform at a high level but I’m going to do that regardless but to end your career where you started that would’ve been icing on the cake. It is what it is at this point. I don’t make those decisions and they were well aware I was out there so they felt they had the best man on their roster”
Owens has already said he’s broke, he’s 38, he needs a job wherever he can get one. He’s no longer represented by Drew Rosenhaus or anyone else, which might’ve been why he was pitching his services on The Game. After watching the 49ers come so close to the Super Bowl he has to figure that if he came back to San Francisco and won a ring, the rest of his life would be much easier. As an added bonus, he’d regain the love from 49ers fans that he once squandered.
However, Owens has been working out with Carson Palmer and Oakland Raiders receivers. Wouldn’t the Raiders be a better fit, even though they already have young receivers like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner? Owens, the big man that he is, isn’t exactly against playing in the silver and black, but he didn’t sound ready to commit.
Raiders-Niners, I know you have relationships on both sides of the bay and I’d imagine you’d be willing to play for either but if you had a preference, which would you prefer to play for?
Owens: “If I had to prefer a team I’d probably want to end where I started but other than that that’s not possible but at the same time, anything can happen. That being said there’s really only one team left in the Bay Area who I haven’t played for that really at this point in time is a viable option and that’s the Oakland Raiders. Given the opportunity if that’s on their radar for me to come in and help them win some ball games and ultimately help them try to win a championship then I’ll take that challenge on. I definitely feel I have a lot of football left in me. I think Carson knows that. The guys that saw me running around, those receivers, they saw me first hand so it’s just a matter of someone giving me an opportunity to make that happen. If that’s the case with the Raiders I’ll assess that when the time comes.”
There’s a minimal chance either Bay Area team would sign Owens, and the quicker he rids himself of these fantasies where he returns to Candlestick as some sort of hero, the better. The 49ers aren’t interested in the circus coming back to town.
Imagine Randy Moss and Owens on the same roster, both trying to make a team. Sure, it sounds like an interesting way to keep both guys motivated, and it would’ve made for a dominant fantasy football pairing back in 2004. But as long as the media exists, the 49ers would never make this move. They’ve been able to control and downplay the Moss signing. Look at him leap in the air, he’s a coach on the field, what an amazing teammate… Moss doesn’t talk much anyway and Hard Knocks cameramen won’t step foot in the building. After an initial burst of interest, Moss blends into the scenery.
Owens doesn’t do “blend in.” He’d talk to anyone who’d listen, maximizing exposure after every practice. We’ve seen this guy’s act for over 15 years, he can’t help himself! Even if Moss didn’t have a problem with Owens, the chances of Owens getting jealous and acting out, either with Alex Smith or the coaching staff, would be extremely high.
The Raiders probably won’t mess with Owens either, but it isn’t totally out of the realm that they’d at least give him a tryout. After all, this is a team that signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh last year. Still, the odds of Oakland even calling Owens are remote … and that would probably only happen if injuries decimate the current group. In this case the best chance Owens probably has of getting an NFL job this season is probably if Palmer gives him a glowing recommendation, which makes it interesting that Owens would publicly declare the Raiders not to be his first choice. Then again, who’s expecting logic and strategical thinking from an Owens soundbite?