Exclusive: Terrell Owens Interview
May 4, 2013
Terrell Owens is the second leading receiver in the 93-year history of the National Football League.
Known by most as "T.O.", the perennial All-Pro receiver tore up the record books about as fast as he spiked television ratings.
Sensationalism and hype aside, I've actually had the privilege of getting to know Terrell a little bit over the years.
The following is my third interview with the Future Hall of Famer and we had the chance to touch on everything from Tom Brady, to the Chicago Bears, to his future as a potential play-making mentor—anxious to contribute to any NFL team willing to give him the chance to prove that he can be a valuable asset to their organization.
What did Owens have to say?
The following is a BlindsideFootball.com exclusive:
RM: What is it that keeps you so driven to return to the NFL?
TO: "Well I think it's a matter of me knowing that I still have the ability to play, and knowing that I still have something to offer. I have things to offer from experience: mentorship. It's one of those situations where I know that I can still play at a productive level—if you look at the state of health I'm in and the caliber of player I've been, the way I've been able to keep myself in shape over the years."
RM: You worked out with Tom Brady a few weeks back, how did it feel to have the chance to connect with him?
TO: "Obviously he's going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback. He's one of the top, probably-three quarterbacks in this league. It's funny because Tom and I have known each other for a while. We played against each other in Super Bowl XXXIX. So, it was one of those things where I think we both noticed that over the years there's been something of an ideal type of connection considering what he's done throughout his career and what I've done throughout my career. I've played with a number of quarterbacks just he's played with a number of receivers. In a fantasy situation, that would be ideal.
"But where I am in my career now and where he is, with me being a free agent—I think it's one of those things where Tom was starting his off-season program and I've been working out here in California for the last two summers. We happened to be on the same field at the same time and it obviously created a big buzz with the two of us being on the field throwing the football around. There was really nothing organized about it as far as me trying to get with the Patriots or him pursuing me or anything like that. It just happened to be us being out there on the same field at the same time. He was working out with Danny (Amendoala) as well as some other guys who were out there as well."
RM: If the Patriots were to give you a call, how interested would you be in contributing to their organization?
TO: "I think that's a no-brainer. You look at what they've done over the years. Under the tutelage of Tom and Coach Bellichick, I think the sky would be the limit in terms of what I'd be able to do. Considering my body of work and my history of playing the game."
RM: Last summer when you signed with Seattle, some people had you clocked in at 4.43. and you held your own against Richard Sherman in training camp, do you feel he's the best corner in the game today?
TO: "Oh yeah. Richard Sherman is one of those guys that has self-confidence. He's a guy who can talk it and walk it at the same time. There haven't been a lot of shut down corners in this league since Deion (Sanders) and obviously the closest would probably be Darrelle Revis. I'm sure Richard wants to put himself in the same breath and same light as those guys. Both of those guys you talk about, Brandon Browner as well, those guys are very, very good corners. Their length and size is very adventageous to what they do on the football field."
RM: If you sign with a team this year, what can they expect from you both on and off the field?
TO: "Well I mean off the field speaks for itself, I don't have any problems off the field. On the field, I feel like I have a lot to offer as far as my experience as I said earlier. At this stage of my career, I feel that a lot of guys could learn just as I did throughout my career in my younger years. Personally, I still learned from a lot of guys as I played the game. I never felt like I knew everything there was about playing the receiver position. Because every receiver has different abilities: to get off the line, to run routes. So I could take a little something from different receivers' routes and the way they play the game and apply it to my game. So, I'm always looking for something different that can be applicable to my skill-set."
RM: Now, you alluded to different people you learned under during your career. The likes of Bill Walsh, Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Can you bring that experience and use it to help younger receivers?
TO: "Oh, well yeah. When you talk about me being on the field and what I'm able to offer, it's not just from a physical standpoint. Obviously there are mental aspects to this game. Again, just my experience can be very helpful to younger guys who don't understand what it takes to prepare for practices and games: reading different coverages and making themselves viable options within the offense, whether you're a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 option. I've learned how to adapt to the role of being a No. 1 receiver and also a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. But even when you're a No. 1 receiver in an offense, sometimes you can be a that second or third option as well. So I understand that being a No. 1 receiver doesnt mean that you're going to be getting the ball all of the time.
"Sometimes you have to be something of a sacrifical lamb in a sense where you have to do other things to get your teammates open in the offense. So I was very aware of that. I mentally understood the game and how valuable I was as an offensive threat. If you look at the basketball playoffs and you look at a guy like Stephen Curry, how he's lighting it up—he's going to get a lot of attention, a lot of guys double teaming him. He has the ability to read those double teams and at the same time as he matures, he knows that he's not going to make a high percentage of those shots while being double-teamed. So now he's going to have to find his other teammates and trust them to make plays as well.
"So, that's kind of how it is in football and how it's been throughout my career. As I became a threat at my position—now I'm taking two or three guys, taking a safety and a corner with me to create other avenues for other guys to make plays. You think about the tight ends, you think about the other receivers who now have one on one matchups on the backside, you think about the hole that may be underneath for a check-down from quarterback to running back. I understand the whole picture of the game."
RM: Skip Bayless said that the great Bill Walsh told him that in the film-room, you had as high of a football I.Q. as anyone he's ever seen at the receiver position. Knowing some of the greats who have come through San Francisco, I'd consider that high praise. Do you feel that your football I.Q. is something that you can bring to the table, not only to help the younger players develop but also to help make the offense run more effectively?
TO: "I think that my football I.Q. has been a bit underrated and hasn't been given a lot of attention considering everything else that has happend throughout my career. But I think that's why (referring to his football I.Q.) I've been able to find the end-zone as often as I have. Considering I was drafted in the third round and not a lot of people knew much about me, I kind of just popped up out of nowhere. If you think about where I am in the history books and if you consider that I missed pretty much the second half of my second year in Philly—there were a lot of touchdowns that didn't happen. And I know that where my numbers are, they could have been far better. But that's certainly not why I'm trying to play the game still.
"It's the fact that I know I can still play at a high level. But considering things that have happened in the past, that's probably why team's haven't taken a shot at me. Other than that, as I've said, if the right situation comes about, considering a few coaches that have a personal relationship and know me as a person and understand me as a receiver and as an athlete, (if they) gave me a shot, then I think that...I just know that I can still play and if given the right opportunity, I'd jump at it."
RM: Another rumor that's been going around has been the chance of you playing with the Chicago Bears. How would you feel about having the opportunity to play beside Brandon Marshall, the man who's been nicknamed "Little T.O."?
TO: "Given the opportunity in the right situation, I feel that I have a lot to offer from a productive standpoint, in terms of my ability to play. But I also feel like I have a lot to offer from a mentorship standpoint. There are a lot of guys who can benefit from the way I approach the game: practice habits and such. There's nothing more valuable than on-the-field experience and also being able to learn from a guy. You can watch film on different receivers and the things they do but to experience that personal one-on-one time is very, very, very valuable and that is what I was able to obtain when I played with the likes of Jerry Rice."
RM: At this stage of your career, have you ever wanted to play a similar role to what Jerry did with you and tutor a guy like Brandon Marshall?
TO: "I've always done that. Even early in my career there were guys that I was able to help. I've always felt like I was in that mentorship type of role, whether it was earlier in my career or if that were to happen now. I've never been that guy to not help a teammate and I welcome guys who may have a hard time understanding something. Don't be shy, just come and ask. The coaches I've had have encouraged players to learn from the veterans on the teams that I've played with. Not only myself but there have also been other guys—veterans—who have been there and who have welcomed the young guys as far as their questions and anything to make themselves better at any given time."
RM: Are there any projects you're currently involved with now with that you'd like to share with the fans?
TO: "I've been involved with a friend of mine for a few years now, she's a designer in home decor and I have a love for that. Over the years we have been trying to get some things together and possibly put out a home decor line. There are a lot of things that I feel I can do, it's just a matter of putting all the pieces together. Obviously a lot of people ask me about fitness, workouts, and things of that nature. So hopefully within the next couple of years there may be a few things that will come about that will be ideal for what I can offer. Again, there are a lot of interests that I have and probably the most surprising is home decor. I like bowling and over the weekend participated in a tournament so, I'm having fun."
I've always enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Terrell. His passion, his knowledge and his drive always seem to bubble to the surface whenever you start talking football with him. He remains focused and determined to return to the National Football League this season. With his legacy still yet to be determined, I'm pulling for Owens to end his career on a high note.
Terrell Owens can be followed on Twitter @terrellowens
Ryan Michael can be followed on Twitter @theryanmichael
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