- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

MOORESTOWN, N.J. — For once, Terrell Owens put aside his pride, admitted he was wrong and pleaded for a second chance with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The team appeared unmoved.

A contrite Owens, hoping to overturn his dismissal from the Eagles, yesterday apologized to coach Andy Reid, quarterback Donovan McNabb, the team’s owner, president and fans.

“The mentality that I have, my greatest strength can also be my greatest weakness,” Owens said, reading a statement outside his house. “I’m a fighter. I’ve always been and I’ll always be. I fight for what I think is right. In doing so, I alienated a lot of my fans and my teammates.

“This is very painful for me to be in this position,” he said. “I know in my heart that I can help the team win the Super Bowl and not only be a dominant player, but also be a team player. I can bring that.”

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Owens made a public apology in hopes of returning to the Eagles immediately.

“We hope he plays again for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Rosenhaus said. “We hope he plays right away. We hope he plays against the Dallas Cowboys” on Monday night.

Team spokesman Derek Boyko said the Eagles had no comment.

A day earlier, Owens was told by the team not to return this season because of “a large number of situations that accumulated over a long period of time,” Reid said.

He said Owens had been “warned repeatedly about the consequences of his actions.”

The All-Pro wide receiver didn’t play in Sunday night’s 17-10 loss at Washington and will remain suspended for three more games without pay. After that, the Eagles plan to deactivate him for the rest of the season.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the players’ union has filed a grievance on behalf of Owens seeking to overturn the suspension. It will be heard Nov. 18 before arbitrator Richard Bloch.

Owens was suspended Saturday, two days after he said the Eagles showed “a lack of class” for not publicly recognizing his 100th career touchdown catch in a game on Oct. 23. In the same interview with ESPN.com, Owens said the Eagles would be better off with Green Bay’s Brett Favre at quarterback instead of McNabb.

Owens apologized to the organization for making those comments, but didn’t address McNabb, even though the statement he read from included a direct apology to the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

This time, Owens said he was sorry not only to Reid and McNabb, but also to Eagles president Joe Banner and owner Jeffrey Lurie.

“I would like to reiterate my respect for Donovan McNabb as a quarterback and as a teammate,” Owens said. “I apologize to him for any comments that may have been negative.”

The Eagles are 4-4 this season and last in the NFC East. Last year, they were the top team in the conference, going 13-3 on the way to the Super Bowl.

“It really hurts me not to be part of the team anymore,” Owens said. “I came here to help the Eagles get to the Super Bowl and win the big game.”

Owens’ relationship with the Eagles took a drastic turn after he fired longtime agent David Joseph, hired Rosenhaus and demanded a new contract just one season into the seven-year, $48.97 million deal he signed when he came to Philadelphia in March 2004.

While Rosenhaus spoke to reporters and refused to answer several questions, Owens stood stoically alongside a burly bodyguard.

He flashed his trademark smile and winked at a reporter who asked Rosenhaus what he’s done for his client other than have him kicked off the team.

Rosenhaus skipped over that question and criticized the media for being “unfair” to Owens.

“There are players in the NFL that are arrested who violate the program when it comes to drugs and substance abuse and they are not punished as severely as him,” Rosenhaus said.

Owens clashed with management this summer and earned a one-week exile from training camp after a heated dispute with Reid that followed a shouting match with offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

Owens forced a trade to the Eagles last year after eight seasons with the 49ers and invigorated the offense with his superior skills. He had 77 catches for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games.

Soon after Philadelphia lost to New England in the Super Bowl, Owens took his first shot at McNabb, suggesting he was tired in the fourth quarter of the loss.

McNabb responded harshly and the two didn’t speak for a prolonged period in training camp. They eventually reconciled their relationship and performed well together on the field — Owens has 47 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns this season.

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