Terrell Owens groused last week that the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t make enough of a fuss about him.
The Eagles responded Saturday by making Owens the center of attention, suspending him indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Team officials announced the suspension in a written statement and said the club had no further comment.
The suspension means Owens will not be on the field tonight when the Eagles play at Washington in a pivotal NFC East game. The teams are 4-3 and trying to stay within a game of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, both 5-2.
On Thursday, in an interview with ESPN.com, Owens criticized the organization for not making a bigger deal about his 100th touchdown reception, which came in a victory over San Diego on Oct. 23.
“That right there just shows you the type of class and integrity that they claim not to be,” said Owens, who became the sixth receiver in NFL history to reach the milestone. “They claim to be first class and the best organization. It’s an embarrassment. It just shows a lack of class they have.
“My publicist talked to the head PR guy, and they made an excuse they didn’t recognize that was coming up. But that was a blatant lie. Had it been somebody else, they probably would have popped fireworks around the stadium.”
Also in the interview, Owens agreed with the notion that the Eagles would probably be undefeated if Brett Favre were their quarterback instead of Donovan McNabb.
The suggestion was first made by ESPN commentator Michael Irvin, a former Dallas receiver.
“A number of commentators will say he’s a warrior, he’s played with injuries,” Owens said of Favre. “I feel like him being knowledgeable about the quarterback position, I feel like we’d probably be in a better situation.”
On his weekly radio show Friday, Owens joked he wanted to be called Javier and placed in a witness-protection program. He said he was taken out of context in the ESPN.com interview, but added he wished he hadn’t slighted McNabb.
“This is one I really regret,” he said. “I said earlier in the interview that we would have a better record if Donovan wasn’t injured.”
Although Owens doesn’t typically talk to Philadelphia reporters, he did so for 20 seconds Friday, reading a written statement at the request of the team.
“I’ve had the opportunity to talk with the Eagles organization, and I have learned the team does not recognize individual achievements,” he said. “It has been brought to my attention that I have offended the organization and my teammates. Therefore, I would like to apologize for any derogatory comments toward them.”
Owens has been embroiled in controversy for most of his career. He drew criticism when playing for the San Francisco 49ers after celebrating a touchdown in Dallas by dancing on the midfield star, pulling a felt-tip marker from his sock and autographing the ball after scoring in Seattle, and accusing then-coach Steve Mariucci of playing soft against his friends who coached other teams.
For months, Owens has been angry about the Eagles’ refusal to renegotiate the seven-year, $48.97-million contract he signed when he went to Philadelphia in March 2004.
He and McNabb have had a strained relationship ever since Owens criticized McNabb’s performance in the Super Bowl last February.
They didn’t speak to each other for a period this summer.
It is unknown whether Owens will be paid during his suspension. He is scheduled to make $3.5 million in base salary this season, meaning a suspension without pay would cost him more than $200,000 a game.
The collective bargaining agreement states that a player can be suspended for up to four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.
The Eagles could decide to pay Owens to stay home the rest of the season. In 2003, Tampa Bay declared receiver Keyshawn Johnson inactive for the final six games after a dispute with Coach Jon Gruden. Johnson was paid his full salary and now plays for Dallas.
Associated Press contributed to this report.