Love him or hate him, Terrell Owens is one of the most prominent players in the National Football League. Number 81 is known for being a big-play wide receiver, from stints in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Dallas, to today, when he suits up for the Buffalo Bills.
The occasional hands of stone aside, Owens has a history of making big plays. He has the third-longest streak of consecutive games with a reception in NFL history with 185. Only Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison can boast longer streaks.
That streak snapped on Sunday against New Orleans. To add insult to injury, punter Brian Moorman threw a touchdown pass to defensive end Ryan Denney on a fake field goal. This means that Denney has as many touchdown receptions this year as TO.
In the post-game press conference, Owens wore a pair of small, crooked sunglasses and a fedora, dodging questions from reporters about whether or not he liked Alex Van Pelt's play calling.
Within the past couple of days, Owens has made disparaging comments towards former New England safety Rodney Harrison, claiming Harrison used steroids during his playing career. Sarcastically, he asked Harrison to overnight him a shipment and instructions on "how and where to use the needle."
Now, Owens is claiming that the media is trying to provoke negative responses from him in an attempt to recreate the media circuses that went on in Philadelphia and Dallas.
Appearing on Two Live Stews on Sporting News Radio, Owens said, "[The media] took some more than initiative to try to get me to kind of go down the wrong path."
"I know the last two teams that I've been on, I felt like I left those teams prematurely due to media interviews that I've done and things kind of taken out of context and they created sort of a media whirlwind in the locker room and things kind of went downhill from there.
"I'm just trying to do the best job I can do as far as answering the questions and trying to be a better teammate and not try to throw people under the bus."
Owens also stated that a discussion with NFL spokesman Greg Aiello led to him granting post-game interviews after the loss against New Orleans. He declined to speak to the media after the Bills' first two games.
Listening to the audio of the press conference, it's a fair suggestion that the media may be overstepping its boundaries in trying to get Owens to criticize his new team. But give Owens credit for taking the high road: Van Pelt has only been on the job for about a month. Quarterback Trent Edwards isn't Donovan McNabb, or even Tony Romo.
It's not as if the Bills were a previously established team that could survive a locker-room rift. Owens' effort to become a better teammate is almost certainly appreciated within the team, as they attempt to find their footing with a new weapon alongside Lee Evans.
That's not to say TO hasn't brought at least some of the provocation upon himself, however. The Harrison comments were just the latest example of Owens going out of his way to stir things up. Remember the suspension with the Eagles for "conduct detrimental to the team?" Remember the Romo-Jason Witten "super secret BFF" assertion? He's got a history, and it's going to be difficult to get even casual fans, never mind the media, to forget that.
Media outlets are always looking for the next scoop and juicy quote, and Owens has a history of giving them what they need. Until he finds a way to become a boring interview, something we've never seen from TO, they'll keep looking to him.
Expect some fireworks between Owens and some hapless reporter in a press conference before the year ends. Until then, brace for impact, because it seems like the fireworks will be huge (yet again) the next time Owens gets into a confrontation.
This time, though, it might not be all his fault.