He is said to be one of the greatest to ever play the game: a perennial touchdown machine that seemed at times impossible to stop over the course of his 15-year NFL career.
Terrell Owens: A six-time Pro Bowl selection and a five-time First Team NFL All-Pro. Owens is the only wide receiver in NFL history to be selected as a first team NFL All-Pro with three different organizations.
His production is staggering.
1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.
His receiving yards and touchdowns rank him second in NFL history, behind only Jerry Rice.
He’s been brilliant on the football field, so it should come as no surprise that he has been exceptionally eager to return.
With the close of the 2011-12 NFL season, Owens has signed with the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League.
T.O. is set to serve as both the co-owner and star receiver of the team, and I was anxious to get his thoughts about the upstart football league, how it feels to be back in Texas, where he is health-wise and what his future NFL career holds in store.
Owens and I spoke over the phone this week and he was happy to share his thoughts.
Ryan: What is it that makes you the most excited about coming to play in the IFL?
Terrell: “Number one is probably just being back in the mode of football, getting back to some competitive action and being back in Texas. This is an opportunity for myself as a part-owner on the business side to really bring some exposure to the IFL and the talented athletes that are in this league.
“From my talks with Jon Frankel, Drew Pearson and some other people involved, I think that they mentioned that there were about seven guys from the IFL last year that had tryouts but just didn’t end up making the 53-man roster.”
Ryan: You will be playing with the Allen Wranglers in 2012; how do you feel about returning to Texas?
Terrell: “It’s a great feeling. I never thought that I’d be back in the Texas area for an extended period of time but nonetheless, I’m here. I’m here in a way that I never probably could have imagined. As I told the audience last night, God has a plan for me and whatever that plan is, I’m allowing him to lead the way.
“I’ve been going through a lot of personal and professional things since October/November of 2010 and from now on I’m just moving forward. I’ve taken a lot of things into my own hands and I can only be accountable for what I do from here on out.
“Again, to answer your question, I’m excited to be back in the great state of Texas and I’m going to try to make the most of it.”
Ryan: There have been questions surrounding your health since early 2011. Still, you have always been known to be a workout warrior as well as an extremely fast healer. Is it safe to assume that you are back to one hundred percent?
Terrell: “I’m definitely closer to one hundred percent than not. Throughout the course of the season, I’ve been working out around the clock. I’ve had a number of people that have helped me get my leg back to as close to one hundred percent as I can.
“Even now, I’m still working out, rehabbing, working with different people to do functional things and obviously just the maintenance that everybody goes through in the rehab process of returning from an injury. I’m continuing on with that process until I know for a fact that I’m one hundred percent.”
Ryan: What can fans expect from you on the field in 2012?
Terrell: “I think that if you know anything about my career, you know that I’m very passionate about the game. I think that my play kind of speaks for itself. I can’t really sit up here and say what to expect or what I’m going to give you.
“I think that my abilities and my talents are like no other. I think that there are a number of exceptional athletes around the country with each sport, people that stand out and I feel that in the football arena, that’s where I stand out.
“I can only attribute the things that I’ve done on the field in my career, late in my career, to the way that I’ve taken care of my body throughout my career. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s about maintaining and taking care of your body throughout the course of the season.”
Ryan: With that being said, do you have any parting words for all your fans out there?
Terrell: “I’m looking forward to getting back on the field, doing what I do and doing it to the best of my ability. I appreciate all of the support that my fans have given me, whether it’s stadium to stadium, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or what have you.
“I know that I have a great following and I couldn’t be more appreciative of those fans. I can only say that with the million-plus followers that I have on Twitter, I can attract more by the end of 2012.
“Like I told the fans last night, by no means do I feel like my NFL career is over. I haven’t gone anywhere. My skills are still in-tact and I know that I can play this game at a high level. It’s all about just finding the right team and that team giving me the opportunity to come in and help them achieve the goal of winning a Super Bowl.
“I don’t want my career to just fizzle out because I had a knee injury and the fact that I’m 38-years old. I think that age is just a number and it’s all about being productive. If you look at my last two years, people said that I was old then.
“When I played for Buffalo, I pretty much out-played the No. 1 receiver. I didn’t go in demanding a starting spot, I let the chips fall where they fell. I know that if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the numbers are going to be there.
“I’m going to play at a high and productive level and it was the same in Cincinnati. Chad [Ochocinco] is a great friend of mine and he had been the number one receiver there for almost ten years. When I arrived there, look at the stats we put up.
“Again, I’ve never gone in and tried to demand that I have a starting role. I don’t mind going in and proving myself by going through the practices, the mini-camps, the OTA’s, and I think that the coaches will be able to assess my skills and my abilities at the age of 38.
“Other than that, my fans have been great, they’re always going to be great and amongst the fans you’re going to have your doubters, your detractors, your haters and what have you, but they can be proven wrong and put in their place as well. So I’m going to go out there and just do what I do and do what I’ve done to have the nickname T.O. all these years.”
After concluding my interview with Terrell, you could clearly tell how passionate he is about the sport and how eager he is to return to the football field.
I would like to thank T.O. for taking the time to talk with me. He was a pleasure to work with and I wish him the absolute best of luck in 2012 and beyond.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report: Any questions, comments, or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael