TO during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. (Mike Ehrmann / GETTY IMAGES)

This is a surprise — and a mysterious one at that. Assuming the NFL season starts on or near its scheduled date, Terrell Owens will not be ready to play because he has undergone surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Owens, who will be a free agent when the lockout ends and has said he intends to play his 16th season, underwent surgery, performed by James Andrews, within the last month, according to an ESPN report. It is unclear how and/or when Owens may have been hurt . . . whether it was during a personal lockout or, perhaps, while he was taping a show for VH1.

It is also unclear just what this means for Owens’s football-playing future.

At the moment, no one is speaking about the matter. Drew Rosenhaus, Owens’s agent, was unavailable for comment and has tweeted nothing on the matter. Nor has Owens, a notoriously vigorous tweeter and oversharer. Jason Rosenhaus, Drew’s business partner and brother, told ESPN: “I don't like to deny stories or confirm or deny anything. It's really something for Drew [to address].” ESPN reports that Drew Rosenhaus offered a denial when the network inquired about it last month.

The injury, of course, prompts questions about whether, at 37, Owens might be finished in football. He reportedly had no other damage to his knee and could be healthy again around Thanksgiving. Last season, he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals.