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Inside the NFL | ON THE NFL

One Thing He Had to Rewrite

October 19, 2002|Sam Farmer

San Francisco's Terrell Owens invented a way to celebrate a touchdown, and now it's a hot issue all over the NFL. A sampling of the pen-demonium:

New York Jet Coach Herman Edwards walked into a receivers' meeting this week and, without saying a word, handed out Sharpies. Everyone laughed.

Keyshawn Johnson, the Tampa Bay receiver who has one touchdown catch in 22 games, said he might do what Owens did -- stuffing a couple of Sharpies in his sock for just such an occasion -- but the pens would probably dry out before he got a chance to use them.

Dallas running back Emmitt Smith, about to break Walter Payton's rushing record, wishes he were the first to think of autographing a ball when he crossed the goal line. And this is a guy who has been low-key and classy his entire career.

Sure, there were lots of people who rolled their eyes at Owens. But just as many considered his showboating humorous and refreshing.

"I thought it was funny," Smith said. "Give the man some style points."

The NFL had a different reaction. It sent a memo to all 32 teams that carrying a foreign object, such as a pen, may result in a 15-yard penalty and ejection.

"If the referee deems the object to be a safety hazard, the player will be ejected from the game," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "An object such as a pen will be considered a safety hazard."

Give Owens a mute switch too, for suggesting in Friday's edition of the San Francisco Examiner that any negative reaction has to do with his being black. Once he was informed of how moronic that sounded, he recanted in a statement issued Friday afternoon through the 49ers.

"This is not a racial issue, it's about perception," he said. "I'm a target because of who I am and what I've done in the past. It seems like everything I do is taken to another level."

By contending that race was a factor, it was Owens who took it to another level: the basement.

Sanford Superstar

The football world has mixed opinions about the celebration, but there's nothing ambiguous about the feelings at Sanford Corp., which makes Sharpies. There, he's a superstar.

"It's created quite a buzz among our customers," said Bob Daenen, brand manager for Sharpie. "There's no question this is great news for us."

Daenen, who goes by "Sharpie Bob," carries at least three of the markers on him at all times -- black, blue and red. He was watching the game Monday night and wasn't sure what type of pen Owens was using, although he had an inkling.

"We've heard stories about lots of celebrities using Sharpies, even George Bush," he said.

Asked if Owens' celebration might become a trend among, say, high school football players, Sharpie Bob was hopeful but guarded. "Certainly high school children have been known to imitate pro athletes," he said. "We can't endorse anybody carrying them in their sock."

An Old Softy

Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington has taken a serious ribbing from teammates this week over his photo and quotes in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

Harrington later offered this Cosmo cop-out:

"What I was trying to do was reach out to a demographic that wouldn't usually watch football on Sunday afternoons," he told reporters with a laugh. "If you check the stats, last week we had about 750,000 hits on our Web site. I'm not saying there's a direct correlation, but this week there's been about 800,000. I think we've created some fans for the Detroit Lions that wouldn't be there before."

His teammates aren't buying it.

In a category called, "Getting Cheeky," Harrington's quote is: "Touching a woman's face and putting my face against hers excites me. Soft cheeks are so appealing."

Soft cheeks are appealing? I guess Lion center Dominic Raiola can do away with that "Buns of Steel" video.

Around the League

AFC EAST -- It's amazing that New England would trade Drew Bledsoe within the division, especially now that it's clear Bledsoe has a lot of good football left in him. "This off-season, when they made that move with New England, I was like, 'Go to Cincinnati, man. Do not stay in the division,' " Miami linebacker Zach Thomas told reporters. "But hopefully it comes back and bites New England." Bledsoe, who has a passer rating of 101.3, leads the league in yards passing with 2,016.... Indianapolis receiver Marvin Harrison has had four consecutive 100-yard games and is on pace for 140 catches for 1,866 yards. He reminds a lot of people of Jerry Rice in his prime. Wait, isn't Rice still in his prime?

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