T.O. not type to hold tongue for long

One of the most entertaining and unpredictable things about covering the 49ers is getting the opportunity to talk with star receiver Terrell Owens. You never know what the guy might say. Or the controversy he might create. And that has created quite a void in the team's locker room lately, since Owens now refuses to make himself available to local media.

T.O. still talks when it means national publicity. He is on the cover of The Sporting News this week, and on Monday he agreed to an interview for a cover story in ESPN The Magazine. But on Wednesday, another day came and went without Owens meeting with Niners beat reporters.


He has not made himself available to the media since he talked after the 49ers' loss at New Orleans on Oct. 20. After stirring some national debate with his impromptu autograph session/touchdown celebration at Seattle on Oct. 14, Owens spoke sporadically with individual writers before shutting down everybody by the end of the week.


Owens, who can at times be gregarious, engaging and enlightening, has done this kind of thing before. But will he keep it up? The team's public relations staff recently attempted to set up a summit meeting between Owens and beat writers for each side to air concerns and express their points of view in the uneasy relationship, but that meeting never came to pass.


Owens usually becomes an open book after games – particularly after victories – but he was nowhere to be seen in the winning locker room after the Niners beat Arizona 38-28 last week.


"That's certainly his decision," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "While we'll have sessions in training camp about dealing with the media – the league helps with that, too – we certainly don't mandate that everyone has to speak to the media for X amount of time per week. I can't force anybody to speak to the media."


Mariucci didn't say so, but he's probably in favor of Owens not opening his mouth. The coach has had an uneasy relationship with the volatile receiver, and Owens hasn't shied away for criticizing the coach's strategy and/or approach, as he occasionally did last year.


T.O.'s silence seems a little unusual, considering – after a slow start this season – he once again is playing at a superstar level and the team is doing well and getting him more involved in the offense. This would usually be a time when Owens would have plenty to say.


"There's going to be times when guys are more willing to do that than others," Mariucci said. "I was around that in Green Bay when Sterling Sharpe just didn't want to do that. That lasted a long time. That was the decision that he made. It was very lengthy – most of his career, actually. But that's a decision the players have to make and they have their own reasons."


Owens hasn't expressed his reasons. Yet. But don't expect him to end up like Sharpe who, ironically, is now an analyst for ESPN. Owens isn't the type of guy to hold his tongue that long.



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