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Fans: 'We're gonna give you hell, but we still love you'

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Philadelphia Eagles fans just couldn't
bring themselves to hate Terrell Owens.

Notorious for their boorish behavior, many fans booed the
disgruntled All-Pro receiver and some taunted Owens during
Wednesday morning's practice at Lehigh University.

But it took just a simple smile and a little interaction for
Owens to win them over again.

"This ain't San Francisco," one fan yelled as Owens knelt
along the sidelines, listening to the derisive jeers. "You ain't
bigger than this team. Shut up and play."

They took their best shots, and scolded Owens for hiring agent
Drew Rosenhaus.

Finally, Owens stood up, turned to the crowd, cracked a smile
and pumped his left arm up, urging them to make more noise.

The fans suddenly erupted in cheers and the same guy who was
riding Owens the loudest started chanting the "T.O." song. Owens
flashed a wider grin, nodded his head in approval and walked back
toward the field.

In his first public comments since arriving at camp, Owens told
a Philadelphia television station that his family's support was
pivotal in his decision to report.
"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here," Owens told WPVI.
"And God put me in the situation to go out here and still play the
game, that's why I'm here.
"They said to stay strong throughout everything. They know it
is not fair and we're honest about it."
Asked if he would give full effort despite his unhappiness,
Owens said, "I'm here in camp and that's all I can say."

Wednesday was the first time this summer fans could see Owens
practice, and some of the Philly die-hards started lining up at 4
a.m. just to get a glimpse of him running patterns with the NFC
champions.

Owens was wildly popular in his first season in Philadelphia,
helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 24
years. But Owens lost many supporters when he and Rosenhaus began
loudly protesting for a new contract just one season into the
seven-year, $48.97 million deal he signed after coming to the
Eagles in March 2004.

When Owens emerged from the locker room for the morning
practice, fans booed. As he jogged onto the field and closer toward
the crowd, many of the boos turned to cheers.

The boos were loud when Owens dropped a pass early in the
drills. They were louder when Owens first went to the sidelines and
stood -- no coincidence -- away from quarterback Donovan McNabb.

But the fans couldn't resist giving Owens some love once he
showed them he was listening to their remarks.

"We're gonna give you hell, but we still love you, T.O.," a
fan screamed.

Owens refused to speak to reporters for the third straight day,
and hardly talked much with his teammates. He nearly started a riot
when he tossed a towel into the stands, though.

"He looked good," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Asked his thoughts on the crowd's reaction to Owens, Reid said:
"I didn't notice anything."

He wasn't the only one.

"When I'm on the field, my main focus is to make as many plays
as possible," said McNabb, who squabbled with Owens in the
offseason.

The other receivers certainly heard the fans.

"It doesn't affect us and it doesn't affect T.O.," wideout
Greg Lewis said.

McNabb reiterated he doesn't have a problem with Owens, though
it seemed the two stars purposely stayed away from each other.
McNabb threw a crisp, long pass to Owens at one point, and even was
his lead blocker on an end-around early on.

"I don't think you particularly have to like the individual or
hang out with the individual," McNabb said. "I think you have to
have a good business relationship. It's funny how the assumptions
come out for us and our situation. Everyone said last year how we
were just the best of friends, and we were hanging out and doing
everything. We had a good business relationship then, and we have a
good business relationship now."

Owens started the friction when he took a shot at McNabb, saying
he "wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl."

McNabb responded with harsh words, insisting he didn't get sick
and wasn't tired in the fourth quarter of the 24-21 loss to New
England.

The two still haven't sat down for a face-to-face chat.

"I don't want a private moment. It's not needed," McNabb
said.

Notes
: Reid had no update on Brian Westbrook's contract situation.
The Pro Bowl running back was a surprise holdout on Monday. "I
think that it is very important to come in and get your timing
down," Reid said. "You get your legs and your wind, get used to
the heat and so on."