Terrell Owens' tenure in the Indoor Football League came to an unceremonious end Tuesday when the Allen Wranglers released the controversial former NFL receiver.
Owens signed with the Wranglers in February, receiving a six-figure salary and an ownership stake in the franchise located about 30 minutes north of Dallas. Owner Jon Frankel said Owens' ownership stake has been terminated because he violated his contract.
Frankel cited Owens' refusal to play in two upcoming road games that are critical to the Wranglers' playoff hopes and Owens' no-show for a scheduled appearance at a local children's hospital as the breaking points in the team's relationship with the receiver.
"Our fans are amongst the best in the league, and it is impossible to maintain a player when even our fans notice and comment on a player's lack of effort both on and off the field," Frankel said in a statement released to ESPNDallas.com. "We need to do what is best for this team, our fans and this community."
Owens, who was not required to play in all of the Wranglers' road games, released a statement through his publicist late Tuesday night. "I appreciate the opportunity that Mr. Frankel gave me and wish the Allen Wranglers all the best moving forward," he said.
The statement called the manner in which Owens was released "unfortunate." It said Owens played all games according to his contract and that his legal team is addressing details of the Wranglers' news release but that Owens' representatives could not comment beyond that. It also said Owens is focused on returning to the NFL.
The 38-year-old Owens, whose tenures with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys all ended acrimoniously, had hoped that playing for the Wranglers could help him get back in the NFL. He received no interest from NFL teams last season despite ranking second all-time in receiving yards (15,934), fourth in touchdowns (156) and sixth in catches (1,078).
Wranglers general manager and former Cowboys great Drew Pearson believes Owens could still play in the NFL, if his performance was the only indicator.
"It's very difficult to get back into the NFL, especially at that age," Pearson told the "Ben & Skin Show" on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Wednesday morning. "To me, there's no question he could play in the NFL. When I see these receivers that are playing, there is no question Terrell could still play in the NFL. But it's not what happens between the lines with Terrell, unfortunately. It's how he handles things outside the lines."
Owens played one season each for the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals after being released by the Cowboys after the 2008 season despite being one year into a four-year, $34 million contract extension. He caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns for the Bengals in 2010.
After Owens recovered from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL he suffered after the 2010 season, agent Drew Rosenhaus organized a nationally televised workout to prove his client was healthy. No scouts attended the workout.
Owens caught 35 passes for 420 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games for the Wranglers.
"It's disappointing and unfortunate," Frankel said of releasing Owens, "but [he] could no longer be tolerated by the Wrangler organization."