Terrell Owens makes Wranglers debut

ALLEN, Texas -- Terrell Owens' professional football career continued after a year-long absence on Saturday night, in a suburban Texan town nearly 50 miles from the nearest NFL stadium.

Owens is now 38 and playing for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League. In his debut, Owens caught three passes -- all touchdowns -- for 53 yards as the Wranglers defeated the Wichita Wild, 50-30, in front of an announced crowd of 5,711 at the Allen Events Center.

The crowd was the largest ever for the Wranglers, surpassing the total attendance of their inaugural 2011 season.

Owens was targeted five times in the game and didn't have a catch in the second half. On the first pass of the game, Owens drew a pass interference penalty.

"The first play he was holding me," said Owens, a six-time Pro Bowler who is second in NFL history in receiving yards (15,934), tied for second in receiving touchdowns (153) and sixth in catches (1,078). "Again, if we're outdoors I run away from that. We're indoors so the ball can't be thrown too far down the field. Those are some of the things you have to adjust to by playing indoors."

Owens had only one miscue.

With 1:01 to play in the third quarter, Owens failed to haul in a sideline pass and the ball was intercepted by Rashard Washington.

Owens is hoping his play in the IFL will allow him to get another chance in the NFL.

"I thought I did all right," Owens said. "I think we should have had more points on the board. From an overall team standpoint, we had too many penalties and obviously we have to do better in that department offensively and defensively."

Owens didn't play in last season and NFL teams were scared off by his recovery from a torn ACL. He played with five NFL teams in his career, including the Dallas Cowboys from 2006 to 2008. Owens' goal was to play in Cowboys Stadium, an hour drive from here, but Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones released him after the 2008 season.

After his time with the Cowboys, Owens played with Buffalo and Cincinnati before failing to get a contract from another team.

After some financial issues, which included losing some of his $80 million fortune after bad investment deals by a former financial adviser, Owens agreed to become the co-owner of the Wranglers with Jon Frankel.

Saturday night, Owens was an instant fan favorite as fans cheered his every move and wore his jersey from his previous teams such as the Cowboys, Bills and San Francisco 49ers.

The Wild's defensive backs were not afraid to mix it up with Owens as they jammed him at the line of scrimmage and even drew him into some smack talk.
On the first pass directed his way, he drew a pass interference penalty on Darvin Peterson and as he walked back to the huddle he talked trash with Kendrick Harper.

There were other times when Owens was wide open and didn't get a pass thrown his way by quarterback Bryan Randall. The Wild jammed Owens at times and gave him single coverage.

"He played a good game," Peterson said. "A lot of plays we left on the field. He was cool and mellow, no big ego. We were in the right spots on some plays and we just couldn't get there. There was some blown coverages in the first half."

In a halftime interview with Wranglers general manager and former Cowboy Drew Pearson, who was doing the television broadcast, Owens was asked about his first half, which resulted in four targets and three catches.

"I was just going with the plays being called," he said.

Owens won't play in the next two road games but could play March 17 at the Colorado Ice. Owens is contractually obligated to play in home games, but if he gets some financial incentives from road teams he would participate.

The next home game for the Wranglers is March 31.

Owens displayed some speed and quickness on the shortened field and wasn't afraid to get physical with the Wild defensive backs.

"He's good," said Wranglers offensive coordinator Corey Bethany. "He's where he's supposed to be. They didn't make any plays on him, and they didn't make a lot of adjustments. We could have went to him all night."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.