During a conference call with the New England media Wednesday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, Owens was asked a final question: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for Monday night’s regular-season opener against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium?
“Nothing up my sleeve,” Owens said. “I might bring my spy camera out, though. … Tell [Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick I say hello. I’ll see him Monday.”
And so it begins. Owens has been fairly mild-mannered since he signed with the Buffalo Bills in March. He’s been searching for a house (snore) and starred in his own reality show, The T.O. Show on VH1 (snoozefest). But he hadn’t broken out a T.O.-like quote until Wednesday. Nor has he gone all Al Capone on his quarterback or even done anything half as entertaining as Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco.
Well, so much for that. Early in the call, Owens said one of his goals this season was to be a “team player” with the Bills and help them at a position where they were lacking when they finished 2-8 last season. Yet, Owens doesn’t particularly care for the Bills’ newest offensive scheme.
“No, not really, but I’ve got to deal with it,” Owens responded when asked if he likes the Bills’ no-huddle offense. “It’s all right. It gets you a little winded. For myself, I haven’t really practiced much the last few preseason games. I’m still trying to get myself into shape, and that’s coming around. We’re doing some things in the offense that will help me get in shape a little faster than I need to, especially with the upcoming Monday night game. That’s part of our offense. We’re looking forward to it. I’ve gotten a taste of it since the OTAs, and I know what to expect.”
Owens still sounds bitter over his departure from Dallas. When asked if he was surprised that the Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert with barely more than a week left to prepare for the regular-season opener, Owens responded, “I’m no stranger to surprises. I got the biggest surprise that anybody could imagine in March, so that was nothing.”
Owens, of course, was released by the Cowboys in March, which still stings him to this day.
“I don’t have anything to prove at all,” he said. “I know I had a lot of abilities to play this game before I left Dallas. I know first-hand that my receivers coach had a talk with Jerry Jones. They asked him about my productivity and what he saw as far as what I have left in the tank. My coach gave him a thumbs up, so I have no worries about the ability that I have to play. If any writer has anything to question as far as my ability goes, their opinions don’t count.”
Owens also said he’s not worried that Bills quarterback Trent Edwards would force throws in his direction to keep him appeased during games. In fact, he said he only caught one ball during Wednesday’s practice.
Either way, Owens said he has recovered from the toe injury that limited him throughout training camp and the preseason, and he’s more than ready for Monday night. After a down season with the Cowboys, which still resulted in 69 catches, 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns, the 35-year-old receiver said he’s got plenty left in the tank for this season and more to come.
“Man, I feel good,” Owens said. “I know this is early in the season, but I don’t know what it is. I just feel like I’ve been drinking from the fountain of youth every day. I feel very, very blessed. I’m playing this game at a high level. If you were to see me practice, then you would never think that I’m 35. I’m saying that because other guys tell me that, as well. I’m just one of many that are able to play this game at my age and still be able to play at a high level. If I’m 35 and wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing, then I wouldn’t be here. I didn’t get released from Dallas because I was 35.”