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T.O. apologizes, says he was kidding about Simpson

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens talked about Jessica Simpson
and Tony Romo again Thursday
-- this time, to clear the air.

Just in case anyone thought he was serious Wednesday when he
proclaimed his quarterback's latest girlfriend "not a fan
favorite," Owens explained he was merely having fun with a subject
that's been tossed about by others for days.

T.O. being T.O., however, the story took on a life of its own.
He was driving home Wednesday afternoon when friends told him about
the ruckus. He wound up on the phone with Romo, who'd already heard
from Simpson.

"I guess she was kind of upset about it," Owens said. "[I]
just told him I would do whatever I can to rectify the situation.
That's about it."

Owens said the call "wasn't necessarily an apology."

"I was just kind of explaining to him what kind of happened
during the course of the [interview] session," Owens said. "I
kind of told him what was said, and he kind of expressed what
Jessica had told him. I was like, 'Look, dude, it wasn't meant like
that. Everybody was having fun, and I was saying what I had to say.
There it is, it's a big story."'

Owens said he thought things were fine between him and Romo. The
quarterback's take on all this is unknown because he hasn't talked
to reporters since immediately after a 10-6 loss to Philadelphia on
Sunday. Questions then focused on his poor performance and injured
hand -- not his girlfriend.

Romo has been the Cowboys' starting quarterback for a little
more than a year and already has taken the glamour of the position
to new levels. He's dated singer Carrie Underwood and actress
Sophia Bush, plus been a judge at the Miss Universe pageant.

A photo of him and Simpson is on the cover of the current
edition of People magazine. TV cameras caught her in a luxury suite
wearing a pink No. 9 jersey during the game against the Eagles.

Backlash from fans followed -- either because he played poorly in
a game she attended, because people don't like her songs and movies
... or, both.

Still, it took Owens' comments to turn the relationship from
gossip-page fodder to sports-page controversy. The momentum
continued Thursday, when the offshore gambling Web site Bodog.com
posted odds on how long the couple will be together. It's 2-1
they'll go at least six months, 6-1 they'll be done within a month.

The site's also taking bets on whether Simpson will attend
another Cowboys game before the Super Bowl. (Odds are against it.)

Simpson is taking more abuse at www.ruinromo.com. The makers of
that site are imploring fans to "Help your team to victory by
letting Tony Romo know the love of his life is in the stands!!!"
They're also offering a downloadable picture of Simpson;
instructions say to cut out the eyes and tape it to a popsicle
stick "for easy handling."

What does Simpson think of her foray into the jock kingdom? Her
camp isn't saying. Her career publicists insisted they have no
comment on her private life. Other phone calls to her "people"
were not immediately returned.

Back at team headquarters, the big question Thursday was whether
Owens has caused a distraction.

He didn't think so. Neither did most of his teammates, who've
been laughing all along.

"She's been to two other games that we've won, but nobody ever
said anything about them," receiver Patrick Crayton said. "Maybe
she was his good-luck charm. Nobody ever stated that."

The Cowboys won the other games she attended. It's just that TV
cameras didn't show her cheering on her man. But all eyes were on
her Sunday.

"She did what she had to do as far as being there in support of
Tony," Owens said. "Other than that she doesn't run any routes,
she doesn't throw any balls, she doesn't catch any balls."

Perhaps the ultimate proof of whether Owens and Romo are OK will
come Saturday night in Carolina. Will No. 81 have many balls come
his way?

Owens considered that question a setup for another attempt at
humor: "If I don't get the ball this week, then I am going to have
to go to Hollywood and bake some cakes or something and find me a
Hollywood star or something."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips threw in his own zinger: "A lot of
our players have girlfriends, wives and significant others. Some of
them may have both."

Just to be clear, both Owens and Phillips were laughing when
making those statements.