Return to Sharpie-gate

Terrell Owens has been silent this week, which kind of makes you wonder what he might have up his sock. The 49ers play the Seahawks in a nationally-televised night game at Seattle on Sunday, and the last time that happened, Owens caused a national furor by pulling a Sharpie pen from his sock and signing the ball after scoring the winning touchdown. Seattle hasn't forgotten. "Let's face facts," Mike Holmgren said Wednesday. "That kind of thing happened and I'm not a big fan of those things."

That's for sure.

On the Monday night television stage last Oct. 14, Owens entertained some and incited others with one of his most audacious and spontaneous touchdown celebrations. Actually, this one was Owens' signature celebration.

After beating Seattle cornerback Shawn Springs on a 37-yard touchdown play midway through the fourth quarter that rallied the Niners to a 28-21 victory, Owens conducted an impromptu autograph session in the end zone, then handled the football to a guy named Greg Eastman, Owens' friend and financial advisor who just happened to be sitting in Springs' field-level luxury suite.

Holmgren was outraged, saying at the time, "It's shameful. I've never seen anything like that. There's no place for anything like that in our game. It's a dishonor to everyone who has ever played this game."

A national debate raged for the next week, and by the time the uproar had died down, the NFL had created a new policy as a direct result of Owens' actions that banned players from carrying foreign objects with them onto the field.

With the Niners coming to Seattle almost exactly a year later for another nationally-televised game on Sunday night, Sharpie-gate still is a hot topic for conversation, even if its shock value has worn out.

"I don't think there is a lingering effect," Holmgren said. "I think it was one of those things where we got beat and I was ticked off that we lost the football game. Terrell Owens is a great football player. I mean, he is. We know – and anybody knows who faces the 49ers – that you have to deal with him and start with him. That was last year and this is a whole new year. Nothing has changed as far as how good he is and what we know that we have to do defensively to try and contain him just a little bit. It is tough to do. That happened last year and this is a new year."

Owens didn't practice Wednesday due to a strained Achilles that he sustained in last week's win against Detroit. But he should practice Thursday and will be ready to go for a repeat performance in Seattle.

The last thing the Seahawks want to see this time is Owens in their end zone, but they'll have to try to keep him out without Springs – perhaps their best cover corner – who is doubtful for the game with a shoulder injury. Holmgren said, "doubtful is doubtful. I don't mess around with that too much."

The Seahawks don't want to mess around with another Sharpie incident, either. But most of the Seattle locker room is attempting to make it a dead issue this week, said Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

"I'm sure the media will bring it up," Hasselbeck said Wednesday. "I think if you ask most of the guys in our locker room, we kind of respect what kind of player Terrell Owens is. If you were to ask any of the quarterbacks here, shoot, we'd throw him the ball all the time. He's a heck of a player. Sometimes, T.O. gets a bad rap, but I think we more admire him than anything."


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