Friday, February 2, 2007
By Bob Carter Special to ESPN.com
Owens' catch was a true watershed event for the 49ers and Packers.
Signature Game Jan. 3, 1999 -
On a dizzying day of drops, Terrell Owens called it his "redemption catch." With one huge play, T.O. overcame all of his misplays earlier in the day and lifted his 49ers to a 30-27 wild-card victory over Green Bay in San Francisco.
Trailing by four points with eight seconds left at the Packers' 25, the Niners sent Owens on a deep post pattern. He found a smidgeon of room down the middle and caught Steve Young's pass among four defenders for the winning touchdown. "One of the biggest catches in the organization's history," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said.
Owens had set up a Packers field goal with a first-quarter fumble and had dropped four passes. "I just knew I had to make a play for this team," he said.
And when he did, there was no usual Owens touchdown dance as he was buried by happy teammates. "At the bottom of the pile," he recalled, "I was just saying, 'Thank you, Jesus.' "
Odds 'n' Ends
Owens has two sisters, Sharmaine and Latasha, and a brother, Victor.
His mother worked long hours at a sports uniform manufacturer, and his grandmother, Alice Black, took over many parenting duties. She didn't allow T.O. or his siblings to watch television or talk on the phone.
Black is afflicted with Alzheimer's and lives in Talladega, Ala. Owens has served as a spokesman for the Alzheimer's Association.
At Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City, Ala., Owens won 12 letters (four in football, four in track, three in basketball and one in baseball).
As a sophomore at Tennessee-Chattanooga, he scored four touchdowns against Marshall.
The Moccasins had losing records in all four of Owens' seasons.
He played basketball for UT-Chattanooga for three seasons and was the sixth man for the team that made it to the 1995 NCAA Tournament.
Owens came from the 1996 draft's talented receiver class that included Marvin Harrison, Keyshawn Johnson, Muhsin Muhammad, Eric Moulds and Amani Toomer.
His 40-yard recorded dash time of 4.19 seconds was among the fastest in NFL history.
Early in his rookie season, Owens played mostly on special teams.
His first NFL start came on Oct. 20, 1996 in a 28-21 win over Cincinnati. Owens fumbled the ball away in the first quarter, but scored a tying touchdown in the fourth period on a 45-yard reception.
After the 49ers lost to Carolina 34-16 in October 2000, Owens said the team gave up. He apologized to his teammates the following day.
On Dec. 17, 2000, Owens broke the NFL single-game record for receptions with 20 for 283 yards and a touchdown in a 17-0 win over Chicago. The record came in the last 49ers home game for Jerry Rice, who barely retained his club single-game yardage mark of 289.
Tom Fears held the reception record for 50 years, making 18 catches for the Los Angeles Rams against Green Bay on Dec. 3, 1950.
Owens won the celebrity slam-dunk contest at the 2000 NBA All-Star Game and played in the United States Basketball League for Adirondack in 2002.
He twice won the 100-yard sprint at the Superstars competition.
In the Niners' 39-38 wild-card playoff win over the Giants in January 2003, Owens had nine receptions for 177 yards and two TDs and caught a pair of two-point conversion passes. He also made a halftime speech with the Niners trailing 28-14.
During the 49ers' loss to Tampa Bay the next week, Owens screamed at the coaching staff on the sideline when the team, trailing 28-6, ran out the clock at the end of the first half.
With the Eagles in 2004, Owens yelled at quarterback Donovan McNabb on the sideline during a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh.
The next April, Owens said he "wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl." The comment was aimed at McNabb's play at the end of that loss to New England and further strained the relationship between the two Eagles stars.
On Oct. 23, 2005, against San Diego, Owens made his 100th touchdown reception. He later ripped the team for not publicizing the achievement. The Eagles said that their policy was not to acknowledge personal accomplishments.
With Dallas in 2006, he returned to Philadelphia on October 8. A target of booing and taunting fans, Owens was little factor in the game, making three catches for 45 yards in the Cowboys' 38-24 loss.
Owens had 116 career touchdowns (including two rushing), tied for ninth all-time with running back John Riggins, through 2006.
Owens has had several plush homes, including the one he still owns in the Atlanta area. A favorite relaxing spot in the house there: the "Chocolate Room," abundantly furnished with a computer, stereo system, plasma TV, a chocolate-colored motif and combination-lock entry.