June 19, 2018

Terrell Owens in the CFL? Why not?

San Francisco 49ers

Extra large popcorn, please. And don’t hold the butter!

When I think back on the playing career of Terrell Owens, there are plenty of fond memories, from the press conferences and the touchdown celebrations to doing sit ups on the driveway of his home.

Owens sure was entertaining, playing 15 National Football League seasons with five different teams over a decade and a half. He hasn’t played since 2012, but just recently his 153 career touchdowns and nearly 16,000 yards earned him induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The numbers, while out of this world, don’t complete the picture. Owens was an entertainer on and off the field, and on Friday afternoon in a huddle with reporters, the six-time NFL Pro Bowler was, for old time’s sake, the centre of attention yet again.

Can you imagine Terrell Owens, now 44, running the waggle?

“I have no idea,” said Owens, pondering the thought before speaking at the Orange Helmet Awards, the charity event held annually by the BC Lions in Vancouver. “I’m not in game shape or anything.”

Well removed from his playing days, Owens is relishing the opportunity to make a different kind of impact: to inspire kids and provide others a blueprint for success. Last week he spoke to CFL.ca’s Jim Morris on a range of topics, from Colin Kaepernick and social injustice to Johnny Manziel’s comeback attempt.

He also had us dreaming up what T.O. in the CFL might look like, a thought that’s apparently nothing new.

“I know physically I look in shape,” said Owens. “It encompasses a lot to get back on the field and do the things it takes to take the pounding. It wouldn’t be hard. It’s just a matter of me committing myself to do that.”

Owens said he flirted with the idea as recently as last year, training with then-Alouettes linebacker Kyries Hebert, who pitched Owens on coming to play north. The former NFL receiver said he talked to the Als’ general manager, but nothing came of it.

The thought, of course, seems farfetched. A 44-year-old who hasn’t played in half a decade coming to a league he’s never been a part of.

But it’s fun to dream.

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Terrell Owens speaks during the annual Orange Helmet Awards in Vancouver (BCLions.com)

Owens has clearly kept himself in terrific shape, and was known throughout his NFL career as a freakish athlete. So why is it so difficult to envision him catching passes in the three-down game?

Chad Johnson, famously known in the past as Chad Ochocinco, was 36 when he attempted a football comeback with the Montreal Alouettes in 2014. He seldom played over his one season with the club, catching seven passes for 151 yards in five games, although he does have a CFL touchdown to his name.

There were murmurs of Jeff Garcia possibly suiting up in his mid-40s when he came to the Als as a quarterbacks coach that same season. The former CFL and NFL quarterback was 44 at the time and three years removed from his playing career.

In 2007, when Damon Allen and Michael Bishop were both injured and the Argos’ offence was struggling, there was legitimate talk that the Argos were trying to lure the legendary Doug Flutie to come back. Flutie would have been 44 as well, having last played in 2005 with the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Fans on this side of the border have shown an aversion to this kind of talk, especially as the Johnny Manziel saga drags on. Then there was the Vince Young comeback attempt that fell flat one year ago.

But Terrell Owens is one of the best football players this planet has ever seen. An exception from the norm. And he’s not ruling anything out.

“I train now, I’m in L.A. working out with some guys, getting ready for the upcoming season. It’s up for discussion I suppose.”

Hey, all it takes is one phone call. So while I’m not holding my breath, I may as well hold out hope.

I can’t be the only one hoping to see T.O. in a CFL training camp next month.