July 21, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) -- Donovan McNabb does a better job avoiding tacklers than lingering questions about Terrell Owens.
Speaking to reporters after practice Friday, a cordial McNabb called Owens' recently released autobiography a "children's book," mocked the star receiver for saying he was misquoted in his own book and disputed some of the written allegations.
McNabb and Owens helped lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl during the 2004 season, but their relationship quickly deteriorated in 2005. Owens eventually was kicked off the team and signed with the Dallas Cowboys in March.
In "T.O.," which came out earlier this month, Owens mostly offers his side of his tumultuous second season in Philadelphia. McNabb joked that he should have been a co-author because Owens mentioned the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback at length in the book.
"It won't sell unless he's talking about me," McNabb said, adding that he didn't read the book and is waiting to play himself in the movie.
Owens likens McNabb to a bully who spat in his mouth as a teenager while he innocently slept on a school bus. He traces the root of the friction to when McNabb didn't throw him the ball on a play in a game during his first season with the Eagles.
McNabb scoffed at Owens' version of events.
"He told me, 'Hey, I was open on that. Throw me the ball,"' McNabb said in a soft voice. "And you guys believe that, I'm sure. I mean, you think about that."
Owens also claims that one of the offensive coaches told him McNabb gets tense in big games.
"It's funny how they would just come to him," McNabb said sarcastically. "Why wouldn't they just say something to me? To say that I can't play in big games, I don't think that's a true statement at all, so I don't get offended by anything he may have said in his book that he was misquoted."
McNabb denied the implication that he influenced management's decision to suspend Owens.
"I can sit here and say that's not true," McNabb said. "If I had that much pull, a lot of changes would be made."
Though he isn't too fond of Owens the person, McNabb praised Owens the player.
"He's a great player. He works hard. He gets out on the field and makes plays. That's all you ask," McNabb said. "Now, what you may get other than that, you never know nowadays."
McNabb is eager to forget about Owens and move forward following a terrible season that was equally rough on and off the field. Besides feuding with his former favorite receiver, McNabb played through injuries most of the year, before he had surgery for a sports hernia and sat out the final seven games.
The Eagles finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1999, ending a string of four consecutive appearances in the NFC championship game.
A healthy McNabb is key to Philadelphia's success. But now he's facing questions about his leadership skills because of the perception that the locker room was divided among McNabb and T.O. supporters.
"I've never felt I lost the locker room and I don't feel I need to get the locker room back," McNabb said. "To be honest with you, the way that you win anything is by winning games. The way of handling it for me is just to get out on this football field, make plays and then win games."
After a strong start last season, McNabb struggled badly. Overall, he passed for 2,507 yards, 16 touchdowns, nine interceptions and had a passer rating of 85.0. He threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter in each of his last three games, the last being the one that Dallas safety Roy Williams returned 46 yards for a touchdown with 2:43 left to lead the Cowboys to a 21-20 comeback victory that dropped the Eagles' record to 4-5.
"The good thing in life is that you can put the past behind you and move on and kind of create your own future," McNabb said. "This team is definitely hungry. This team is looking forward to getting out there and answering the critics."