It’s been more than two years since Terrell Owens played a down in the NFL. Now it looks like his most recent comeback bid may have been his last. In an exclusive interview with CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, the six-time Pro Bowler admitted that if he doesn’t make somebody’s roster this year, his career is over.
Owens last played for the Bengals in 2010, hauling in 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns for a last-place team. He suffered a torn ACL in the offseason that followed, and went unsigned as a free agent. The Seahawks kicked his tires during training camp last summer, but the once larger-than-life superstar receiver could not make the team.
[For more: T.O. calls ProFootballTalk "Satan"]
As it turns out, those three weeks in Seattle may have been the last of T.O.
"If I play this year, that'd be awesome," Owens said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "If I don't play this year, I'm retiring."
"That's just me being realistic," he said. "I want to play again. I want to go out on top with a team. I think I can still play, but if I don't sign with a team, it would be time to retire. I have to be honest with myself."
"I'm not chasing a dream," Owens added. "I can still play football. If you're a team looking for a wide receiver and don't think I can play, tell me why. If it's because you don't like me, then that's fine, but don't tell me I can't still play."
Of course, at this point it would be surprising if Owens gets another chance. He’s been out of the league for two seasons, and turns 40 in December. His reputation as a prima donna and a locker-room cancer isn’t doing him any favors on the back end of his career, either.
With his time in pro football likely up, there has already been some discussion about Owens’ legacy, specifically whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Detractors will point to T.O.’s antics both on and off the field, but the numbers speak for themselves. If this is it, he exits the game behind only Jerry Rice with 15,934 yards receiving, and ranked third all-time with 153 touchdown catches.
There will always be a sinking feeling in Philadelphia over what could have been had Owens not gone berserk over a contract dispute in 2005. For one year and half of another though, Eagles fans had a chance to watch one of the greats – a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team – do his thing on a weekly basis. Who would want to take that back?