Alternate Route

Don't look now, but T.O. actually seems OK

"That's just a stat they made up and pulled out, just for me," says Owens, who seems to drop at least one pass per day in camp yet usually dwarfs it with an impossible grab between three defenders. "But I know I can be better."

So why is he happier? More cordial? Optimistic?

Because he's here. And Parcells isn't. The former coach, who referred to Owens only as "the player," last spring finally admitted that signing T.O. "wasn't my decision."

Terrell Owens has 25 million reasons to smile.
Reuters/Newscom/Mike Stone
Terrell Owens has 25 million reasons to smile.

Because at 33, he already possesses Hall of Fame credentials.

Because after two off-season surgeries on his right ring finger and the team-mandated rest of his sore back in San Antonio, he's healthy.

Because Phillips, Romo and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett promise to get him the ball early and often. The first play of camp was a reverse to T.O.; the first play of the pre-season an 8-yard pass to him. Barring injury or insanity, Owens this season will catch 100 passes, become the Cowboys' first Pro Bowl receiver since Michael Irvin in 1995 and lead Dallas to its first playoff win since '96.

Because "gullible" isn't in the dictionary. Or is it?

"I'm feeling good and looking good. I ought to be playing good," Owens says. "I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with my trainer this summer. I lifted weights. I ate well. I'm ready to have a great season. I'm happy.

"But I'm always happy, man. I was happy last year."

Uh-oh!

Sssshhh!!!

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