Owens T-shirt a hot topic

<P>Terrell Owens wasn't talking Wednesday, but he made a declaration nonetheless. The 49ers' star receiver paraded around the team's locker room wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with a particular photographed image that became notorious around the NFL last season. </P>

On the front and back of his shirt was the actual picture of Owens standing on the midfield star logo at Texas Stadium last year, spreading his arms wide as he looked skyward toward the hole in the stadium's roof. That was an image that caused a lot of commotion last season. Owens twice raced to the midfield star and postured after scoring touchdowns in San Francisco's 41-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in September of 2000. It was a grandstanding show of emotion that rubbed many people the wrong way. It's also a hot topic of conversation this week with the 49ers (11-3) preparing for a return trip to Texas to play the Cowboys (4-10) on Sunday.

But Owens, who has been outspoken on several controversial issues this season, wasn't about to get caught up in this discussion. Instead, the enigmatic receiver let his wardrobe speak for him. Through the team's media relations department, he also issued this 60-word "Statement from Terrell Owens regarding Dallas Week."

The statement read: "I am taking myself off the map this week. I have addressed Dallas several times during the last year and I am finished talking about it. Instead, I will do my talking this week on the dominos table. I will say I am looking forward to playing against the Cowboys. It's a great rivalry and a big game for us."

Coach Steve Mariucci fined Owens a week's salary and banished him from the team facility for a week after the Dallas incident last year. Owens did not play in San Francisco's game the next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Owens developed some bitterness toward his coach due to that situation, and it has carried over to this season. Owens created a disturbance when he publicly criticized Mariucci after an October loss to Chicago. On Wednesday, Mariucci was non-committal in responding to several questions addressing the subject.

When asked if he'd seen Owens' T-shirt, Mariucci said, "Nope." When asked if he'd heard about it, the coach responded, "Yep." When asked if he had any comment about it, Mariucci said, "No, I really don't."

Several of Owens' teammates got a kick out of his shirt. Offensive lineman Matt Willig even asked Owens if he could have one.

 "He said he didn't have any," Willig said.

Said quarterback Jeff Garcia, "It's a marketing strategy. He might be able to make some money for himself. That might be his way of putting some humor in the whole situation. We're all very aware of what took place, but that's not going to happen again. I think he's moved on, and we've all moved on."

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