Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: February 9, 11:40 AM ET
Terrell Owens still wants to play in NFL
By Calvin Watkins
ALLEN, Texas -- Terrell Owens still believes he's an elite wide receiver and is surprised no NFL team wanted him on its 53-man roster for the 2011 season.
There was one team that did want Owens, the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, who signed him to play wide receiver. He will also have a 50 percent ownership in the franchise. Owens can make as much as $500,000 with the Wranglers.
On Wednesday, in front of an estimated crowd of 700, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson, the Wranglers general manger, introduced Owens to a loud ovation at the Allen Events Center.
"It was an opportunity for myself and my family," Owens said. "It's a way for myself to keep in shape. I haven't retired from the NFL. I want to play a couple more years. This right here will allow me to do that and assess where I am. I know I'm physically fit to play the game still."
Team owner Jon Frankel and Pearson are hopeful Owens can bring in good crowds for their minor league indoor franchise in this suburban city, roughly a half-hour north of downtown Dallas.
Frankel said he didn't think it was possible to sign Owens late last year. But things changed when a mutual friend gave Owens more information about the team and the vision of Pearson and Frankel.
Owens said he has no plans to file retirement papers with the NFL. Despite not playing last season and still recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL, he believes he can be productive in not only the NFL, but any other league. Owens said that his knee is healthy enough for him to play.
Owens will play in every home game and selected road games if it fits his schedule, according to Frankel. The Wranglers open their 2012 season Feb. 25 at home against the Wichita Wild.
It seems stunning to see Owens in this situation considering the last few months of his life.
Last year, he was sued several times for child support, said he lost an estimated $80 million in NFL and endorsement earnings and dealt with the passing of his grandmother, who raised him.
Owens said playing for the Wranglers wasn't beneath him and that he hopes his efforts here will spurn a return to the NFL. Owens can get out of his contract with the Wranglers if an NFL team signs him. But Owens will still have co-ownership of the team regardless if he plays.
"I am a very trustworthy person," Owens said. "I allowed people to tell me they were taking care of my situation, go out and focus on football. And they were going to be taking care of their end. I am partially [at] fault for that. It was an eye-opener for myself and my family and it is a lot an eye-opener for a lot of people in the National Football League that are going to be put in this particular situation.
"I feel like I have been put on this platform to allow people to tell these guys, 'Be on top of your finances.' Because they say they are doing one thing and they're not and they're doing another. Other than that, however many dollars I have lost, I can still make up those dollars. Other than that, it's been a rough situation. It's been a rough year. But overall I am still holding my head up high."
Owens is considered one of the great receivers in NFL history. A six-time Pro Bowler, he is second in league history in receiving yards (15,934), tied for second in receiving touchdowns (153) and sixth in catches (1,078).
Yet, his off-the-field issues are well documented. Despite playing for five teams, his last two stints -- in Buffalo and Cincinnati, ended without any major controversies unlike his times in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas.
"It's crazy," said first-year center/guard Kelvin Drake of being Owens' teammate. "I was telling my teammates I was playing with T.O. when I was 15-years old in Madden. He is my favorite receiver growing up and now he's my boss and my teammate. A lot of people can't say that."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.