Terrell Owens was once vilified for celebrating touchdowns on the star at midfield of Texas Stadium. Now the Dallas Cowboys will be glad to see Owens celebrate on their home field.
The Cowboys announced their signing of Owens Saturday, marrying one of the National Football League's most glamorous franchises with one of its most controversial players. Owens' three-year contract is potentially worth US$25 million.
The Cowboys also announced their signing of the former Jets offensive tackle Jason Fabini to a three-year contract. Fabini, 31, had played his entire eight-year career with the Jets but was released last month.
The signing of Owens sets up what could be a compelling study in outsize personalities: coach Bill Parcells and Owens, who alienated two previous employers, the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I'm a star among stars now," a smiling Owens said at a news conference at the Cowboys' headquarters in Irving, Texas
Owens, 32, called the troubles he has had with previous teams "life-learning experiences."
"I'm going to put those things behind me," he said. "They can only make a man stronger, wiser. For me, that's what it's done. I'll be a better teammate, a better person, a better man in life. I'm looking forward to this opportunity. I couldn't be more excited to be here."
Owens' contract has the potential to be extremely lucrative. According to AP, it includes US$10 million in bonus and salary this season, and Owens would make US$8 million in 2007 and US$7 million in 2008.
When the Cowboys' owner, Jerry Jones, was asked about Owens' reputation, Owens interrupted. "Jerry," he said, "I know what's expected of me. I won't let you down."
It was a moment at Texas Stadium in the 2000 season that first established Owens as one of the NFL's bad boys: While with the 49ers, he twice celebrated touchdowns against the Cowboys by racing to midfield and posing on the star logo. The second time Owens did it, Dallas safety George Teague knocked him down.
Owens, a five-time Pro Bowl receiver, became available this winter because the Eagles would no longer tolerate his behavior; he had a feud with quarterback Donovan McNabb that caused a fissure in the locker room and reported verbal confrontations with members of the coaching staff.
After playing eight seasons in San Francisco, Owens was traded in 2004 to Baltimore, where he did not want to play, and managed to get traded by the Ravens to Philadelphia.
Owens helped the Eagles to the Super Bowl in his first season. He played brilliantly in the Super Bowl despite a short recovery from a leg injury, but then he demanded a new contract one year into his seven-year deal. When the Eagles balked, Owens began to publicly criticize McNabb and management.
Seven games into the 2005 season, Owens was suspended and then deactivated, essentially exiled from the team. The Eagles gave Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, permission to seek a trade in January, and Owens drew the most interest from the Denver Broncos and the Cowboys.
Jones, the Cowboys' owner, has long been thought to be interested in Owens. Parcells did not attend the news conference, but Jones insisted the coach wanted Owens, too.
"This was not me selling Bill, this was not Bill selling me," Jones said. "This was us taking advantage of getting an outstanding player. Bill has coached a lot of players that, quote-unquote, have the perception that they might not fit in with team chemistry."