Wide receiver Terrell Owens intensified his oral barrage against the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday, saying in a televised interview that Coach Andy Reid instigated the pair's confrontation this week by telling Owens to "shut up." Owens also called Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb a "hypocrite" and said he has little or no need to speak to the team's assistant coaches.
Owens was sent home from the Eagles' training camp in Bethlehem, Pa., on Wednesday by Reid after the two clashed. Reid told Owens not to rejoin the club for a week. Owens, who has been involved in a bitter contract dispute with the team, said on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" that his argument with Reid began after he tested his strained groin muscle by working out on a side field at Lehigh University while his teammates were practicing.
"I came in to rehab and we got into a discussion about me signing autographs," said Owens, who had skipped two autograph sessions for fans this week. "In the midst of that, he just told me to shut up. I just told him, 'I'm a grown man,' and I told him the same. I told him to shut up."
Owens, who said he never cursed at Reid, indicated he was summoned soon after to Reid's office for a meeting. At that meeting, Owens said, Reid told him he couldn't run the team with Owens acting the way he was acting and refusing to talk to the assistant coaches.
"I told him, 'My last name isn't Reid,' " Owens said on the television program, which was co-hosted by Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon. "I'm not one of his kids. The last time I checked, my last name is Owens. You want me to treat you with respect, you treat me with respect."
Owens returned to his home in New Jersey on Wednesday. He is to return to the Eagles on Aug. 17, two days after they play in Pittsburgh in their first preseason game. Owens said he plans to return to the team just as he reported to training camp last week, wearing fatigues and headphones.
"My attitude is not going to change," Owens said.
Reid said during a news conference at Eagles camp that he would not discuss his dealings with Owens publicly, and President Joe Banner said Owens could play for the Eagles under his current contract or not play at all.
"I'm not sure he still believes that," Banner said, "but we've said from day one those were the choices on the table, and he had to make a choice between one of the two things. That's not going to change."
The Eagles have refused to rework Owens's seven-year, $48.97 million contract after one season and, at least so far, have demonstrated no willingness to release or trade the five-time Pro Bowl pick. The NFC champions have lost their other starting wideout, Todd Pinkston, for the season because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
Owens said he told Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress there was no need for the two to speak after Childress was "being spiteful" and "antagonizing" him. Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who appeared on the program with Owens, said Owens is willing to have football-related conversations with the club's assistant coaches in team meetings, and Owens agreed. But Owens also said he needs little schooling on the team's offense.
"I know how to run the [pass] route," Owens said. "I run it."
Owens said he was irked that the Eagles pressured him into signing a waiver releasing the team from liability before he played in last season's Super Bowl. Owens played in that game, a three-point loss to the New England Patriots, after returning early against his surgeon's recommendation from the severe ankle injury that cut short his regular season.
Owens criticized McNabb -- with whom he has had a frosty relationship since Owens took swipes at the quarterback's Super Bowl performance during the offseason -- for saying publicly he had no desire to speak to Owens, then trying to set up a private meeting through intermediaries.
"Everybody is calling me a hypocrite," Owens said. "He's the same hypocrite. . . . I have no desire to talk to Donovan."
Rosenhaus said he and Owens want to work out their differences with the Eagles, which includes renegotiating Owens's contract. Owens said he's indifferent about remaining in Philadelphia or being sent to another team.
"I just want to play football," Owens said. "It doesn't matter where I play. I don't really have a preference. I'll go play anywhere, but I will not go out and be somebody I'm not."