PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Terrell Owens sees NFL players making the police blotter and shakes his head.
Somehow, T.O. was the bad boy?
"You look at some of the stuff guys are doing now, domestic violence, players killing players, just everything," Owens said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. "You have so many guys with off-the-field problems, drug issues, alcohol problems and they’re still given second chances and third chances. They’re putting them in rehab and keeping them on the team. I never had those issues. It’s disappointing."
Owens played his last NFL game on Dec. 19, 2010. But the five-time All-Pro wide receiver still thinks he can play at age 40.
"They brought up my age when I was 35, 36 and I’m still in just as good shape as I was then," Owens said. "Jerry (Rice) played until he was 42. At 39, I ran a 4.43 40-yard dash. You look at the number of dropped balls and the way guys are playing now and you can’t honestly say I can’t do better."
Owens was back in town as the honorary guest for a charity roast. It’s been nine years since he was kicked off the Eagles in the middle of the 2005 season following a feud with former quarterback Donovan McNabb and disagreement with management over his contract.
An older, wiser Owens says he made some mistakes in the past. But he also deflected some of the blame, too.
"With an agent at that time, just knowing what I know now, I may have been misguided," Owens said, referring to his former agent Drew Rosenhaus. "It may have been a tactic of an agent trying to leverage or maybe that’s how he did business."
Owens fired Rosenhaus in 2012, replacing him with Jordan Woy. That hasn’t helped him get another shot in the NFL. He had a brief tryout out with the Seattle Seahawks before the 2012 season. Now he has moved onto his acting career, endorsing products and doing whatever else he can to keep busy.
Still, he thinks he can contribute if a team called. He knows that isn’t likely, either.
"No doubt there’s not a question that I can still play," he said. "But perception, media portrayal is so negative. Anytime there’s a rumor that a team is interested in bringing me in, there’s all this media attention, and the negative things they have to say are more than the positives. It’s not about what I can bring to them. It’s about stuff I did 5, 10 years ago."
Owens had a lot of swagger and was known for his showboating style and outrageous touchdown celebrations. At times, he was a major distraction because he was outspoken. In his mind, that pales in comparison to things players get away with now.
"The way I carried myself, having fun, being passionate about the game, a lot of people misunderstood that as bravado, being flamboyant," Owens said. "Trust me, I had fun with it but they never knew the core of my makeup, my character. They based their opinions on someone else’s comments. Why judge a person when you don’t know the person?"
Owens ranks among the career leaders in several statistical categories and has the numbers to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He finished with 1,078 catches for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. He is sixth in catches, second in yards and third in TDs.
Owens never won a Super Bowl, though the Eagles fell just short in a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots in the 2005 NFL title game. Owens made a remarkable recovery following surgery for a broken leg and had nine catches for 122 yards in that game.
"That’s something I did for the city of Philly," Owens said. "I wanted to play in the Super Bowl. I understand the fans here. They love you when you’re here, and if you’re not on their team, if you’re not a Philadelphia Eagle, then you’re not going to be liked and so I got that."
He’ll hear more boos — good-natured, of course — at the roast.