He had fun, all right. Owens wore his widest smile of the season Monday after scoring the winning touchdown in a 28-21 win over Seattle. That's when, after reaching the end zone, Owens reached into his sock, pulled out a marking pen, signed the football and then handed it to an associate who was sitting in a field-level luxury suite.
It's not the first time Owens has stirred national interest after scoring a touchdown. He was fined and suspended for one game by the 49ers after his infamous celebrating on the midfield star logo at Texas Stadium during a September victory over the Dallas Cowboys in 2000.
T.O. has toned it down since then. He hardly was expecting the reaction his latest exploits have generated. Still, he indicated nobody should be surprised by what he might do next.
"I never thought I could top Dallas," Owens said. "I'll have to think of something."
The Seahawks didn't think much of Owens' actions.
Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said during his Tuesday news conference, "I think it's shameful. There's no place for anything like that in our game. … It's a dishonor to anyone who has ever played this game." Holmgren even went so far as to suggest retaliation. "I think certain times players cross the line," he said, "and you have to take care of business."
Said Seahawks defensive lineman Chad Eaton, "That's B.S., it really is. He disrespected us in our own stadium. It goes to show you he has no class."
Added defensive tackle John Randle, "It's embarrassing to us, and it's an embarrassment to the league."
Owens was interviewed on SportsCenter on Tuesday to talk again about the subject, but the Niners already had put it behind them as no big deal during Wednesday's practice sessions.
"Everybody wants to make a big deal about it just because it was T.O. who did it," center Jeremy Newberry said. "If it had been Tai Streets signing a ball and tossing it into the stands to a friend, nobody would have cared. (Owens) wasn't trying to put it in any certain person's face. He made a great play and gave his friend the ball. I think people read way too much into it."
Said quarterback Jeff Garcia, "T.O. is a unique individual and he's definitely creative. How he reacts, what he does, that's all T.O. That's part of his individuality, that's part of his personality and part of what drives him to be a great player like he is. I'm sure he didn't do it to knock Seattle. It was just one of those things where he had this idea and went with it.
"This is something that's being made more so outside this locker room. It's not anything that we're even concerned with. It's not something that's even been brought up in the locker room. He followed through with the score and had an opportunity to do it. It happened. Let's move on."
Niners coach Steve Mariucci expressed the same sentiments to Niners beat writers late Wednesday afternoon.
"T.O. explained everything to me, just like he explained everything to you," Mariucci said. "And we don't even need to talk about it anymore. So let's leave it at that."