Wranglers make offer to Terrell Owens
Getcha popcorn ready, Indoor Football League fans.
Receiver Terrell Owens is close to agreeing to a mid-six-figure contract to play with the Allen Wranglers in suburban Dallas, according to Wranglers general manager Drew Pearson and owner Jon Frankel. The deal would also include an ownership stake of "likely 50 percent" for Owens, Frankel said.
Pearson, the former Dallas Cowboys receiver recently inducted into the team's Ring of Honor, said during a guest host appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3's "Galloway and Company" that a deal is "very close" but has not been finalized. The mercurial Owens produced Hall of Fame-caliber numbers in 15 NFL seasons.
"We're very close," Pearson said. "Jon Frankel, our owner, has been working on this for quite some time now. When he started, he felt there was maybe about a zero percent chance he could get it done, but through his persistent efforts and really wanting to make this happen, he has been able to make contact with their people. Now it's in a stage where he thinks it's at the point where it's about 70 percent done and close to being finalized, so we'll see how it shakes out from this point."
The team's website announced that an offer, which includes a compensation package of $250,000 up to $500,000, has been extended to Owens.
Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was unavailable for comment. A source close to Owens said the two parties have had talks, but didn't say if they were close.
"They want him," the source said.
Frankel said he had detailed discussions with Jason Rosenhaus, Drew's brother and business partner, on Thursday morning.
In October, the Chicago Rush of the Arena League said they made Owens an offer.
The 38-year-old Owens' attempts to extend his NFL career have been unsuccessful this season. No NFL scouts attended his nationally televised workout earlier this fall despite the fact that he had 72 catches for 983 yards and nine touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals last season.
Owens, who has declared himself completely healthy after recovering from an offseason knee injury that required surgery, ranks second in NFL history with 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. However, controversy followed the brash receiver throughout his career, and he had unpleasant departures from the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Cowboys before playing the last two seasons on one-year deals with the Buffalo Bills and Bengals.
"There's no question he can play," Pearson said. "I think right now he's probably better than over half the receivers in the NFL. You see as the season is shaking out all the injuries at the wide receiver position and they're signing guys off practice squads ... but no one took a chance on Terrell Owens. A lot of it has to do with his past history, his attitude."
Pearson acknowledged that the Wranglers' interest in Owens, one of the most polarizing, productive players in Cowboys history during his tenure with the franchise from 2006-08, wasn't just because he would be the league's most talented player. Unlike NFL teams, the Wranglers want the publicity that would come along with adding Owens to the roster.
"Whoever did sign him, say an NFL team, they would have to deal with the media circus that follows that," Pearson said. "And nobody wants that kind of distraction, especially in the middle of the season. But if we sign him, we want the media circus. We want to ignite that fire and to bring the attention to the Allen Wranglers."
The Indoor Football League's 14-game season begins on Feb. 25 with training camp starting two weeks earlier. The Wranglers, who won the 16-team league's Lone Star Division last season, play home games in the 6,200-seat Allen Events Center.
Frankel said he is discussing incentives based on attendance and merchandise sales with Owens' representatives. Frankel's primary goal is to make the fan experience as entertaining as possible at Wranglers games, and he believes Owens' fame and unique charisma make him a perfect fit.
"There's no other athlete in my opinion who could fit what I'm doing and what I'm asking more than Terrell Owens," said Frankel, who estimates the franchise would be worth $5 million if Owens agreed to the deal. "At the end of the day, it is about entertainment."
Tim MacMahon is a columnist and reporter for ESPNDallas.com. ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.