Now that's a change. The last time Owens could be heard in a public forum, he was telling an Atlanta radio station in late January that his relationship with Mariucci was "not repairable" and that he was so unhappy that he wished the Niners had placed him on the team's list of players available to the Houston Texans in the expansion draft.
But it was a kinder, gentler - and not nearly as agitated - Owens that appeared during a feature segment on the syndicated "Sports Machine" television program broadcast in Northern California at 1:30 a.m. Monday. During a piece that called Owens an "NFL superstar" and focused on his personality, upbringing and development into a Pro Bowl player, Owens was asked if his comments that threw gasoline on the feud between he and Mariucci had, in fact, been not what he wanted. Given the opportunity in the past to broach the controversial subject, the outspoken Owens usually holds nothing back in his disdain for his coach. Not this time.
"I'm not an unhappy person because I'm not getting enough balls during the course of the game or during the season," Owens said. "My thing is, is when it's prime time, give me an opportunity to win. That's all I ask. Give me an opportunity to help our team win. When I have guys coming to me on the sideline asking me what kind of coverage I'm getting, or why aren't I getting the ball, that's what frustrates me. ... My dream is to be part of a team that I helped get to the big show or that big dance. That's all I've ever wanted."
When asked if it's his desire to win that gets him trouble, Owens said, "I think so. I've told a lot of people that I've grown up. I've prepared myself just to do the necessary things to get to a championship."
Owens and his agent, David Joseph, met for nearly three hours with Niners general manager Terry Donahue and team director/owner's representative John York on Feb. 19 to clear the air. Mariucci was not involved with that meeting, but team officials said then that a meeting was planned between Owens and Mariucci sometime in early March. That meeting has yet to happen.
When Mariucci - currently at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla., with other team officials - was asked Monday if he had pinned down a time to meet with Owens, the coach responded: "No. At some point, we'll get together."