BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A day after they booted Terrell Owens out of training camp, the Philadelphia Eagles took an even harder stance on their star's contract dispute:
T.O. can play for the Eagles or he won't play at all.
Team president Joe Banner said Thursday that when the banished wide receiver returns to camp next week, it will be without the new contract he desperately wants and with an understanding that he can no longer become a disruption.
"Our hope, obviously, is that he comes back next week and is what he can be in every sense, whether that's how he contributes to the team on the field or off the field," Banner said. "We've been clear that the choices are to play under this contract or not. I'm not sure he still believes that, but we've said from Day 1 those were the choices on the table and he had to make a choice between one of the two things.
"That's not going to change."
Owens' timeout from training camp won't end until he meets with coach Andy Reid next week. He was told to go home Wednesday after a heated dispute with Reid - and to stay there for a week.
"I'll address him on Wednesday and that's between T.O. and myself," Reid said.
The Eagles couldn't have been shocked over the latest twist in a controversial career. Owens told the team he wouldn't be happy when he reported if he didn't have a new contract, and said he could be disruptive in camp.
"What we see happening is exactly what he said was going to happen," Banner said. "It kind of puts you in a hard position to then have any kind of deniability. You can try to blame other people if he wants, but it's a little bit of a stretch in credibility in light of what he said before he got here."
Reid called the incident in-house business and skirted numerous questions about the playmaking, showboating Owens.
"I'll work it out with T.O. and only T.O. I'm not going to turn this into a bash session," Reid said.
But Owens offered some insight into what prompted his banishment from camp, telling ESPN that Reid told him to shut up.
"And I told him my name isn't Reid. My name is Owens. I'm not one of his kids. Don't tell me to shut up," Owens said.
Owens also said he had to sign a "secret waiver" releasing the Eagles from any liability after he came back from an ankle injury to play in the Super Bowl. However, Eagles spokesman Derek Boyko said Owens "absolutely did not sign a waiver" with the team prior to the Super Bowl.
The Eagles declined to comment on the rest of Owens' interview.
Reid said there were no plans to meet with agent Drew Rosenhaus, who's been persistent in trying to get the Eagles to redo Owens' contract as he enters the second season of a seven-year, $48.97 million deal.
Owens, meanwhile, emerged periodically from his house in Moorestown, N.J., to sign autographs, to the delight of several dozen fans who passed the time throwing footballs and yelling Eagles chants.
Owens said he had not spoken to the team.
"Why would I talk to them? They gave me a week off," he said.
Asked why he had the time off, Owens remained elusive.
"What do you think?" he said. "You are asking a dumb question right now."
Owens confirmed he had an antagonistic exchange with offensive coordinator Brad Childress, but said: "I'm not going to get into it."
He also said he had "no desire to talk to Donovan," as in McNabb, the quarterback. "I've done it (not talked) for 10 days since I've been in camp."
A sometimes shirtless Owens turned his front yard into a surreal scene, with reporters camped outside his house and helicopters hovering overhead while he played basketball and lifted weights.
His teammates poked fun at the whole thing after practice. Defensive end Jevon Kearse ripped off his jersey, did a few situps and mimicked pullups.
"I never heard anything like that," Kearse said. "Then to see it... a helicopter!"
Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins called the situation a "misunderstanding" and remained hopeful the issues could be resolved.
"I guess you guys want us to go spank him or something," Dawkins said. "That's not what we're all about here. He's my teammate, first and foremost, and I care about him."
Reid cleared up one rumored reason for the dispute, saying he approved Owens' workout on a separate playing field from his teammates. Owens injured his groin last week and missed several practices, but had his own private 20-minute workout with the team's assistant trainer hours before he was asked to leave.
"That's part of his rehab. That had nothing to do with it," Reid said.
Reid said Owens still had swelling in his groin and was within a day or two of returning to practice - had he not been kicked out, of course.
"The ability to run route after route after route, he can't do that," Reid said.
With Owens gone, Greg Lewis and rookie Reggie Brown were the starting receivers at practice, where one fan displayed a "T.O has to G.O." sign.
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