Lewis-Owens feud to hit the field

WESTMINSTER -- The Ravens haven't forgotten how controversial All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens aggressively complained until his trade to Baltimore was nullified and delivered a string of insults along his path to Philadelphia.

Even mentioning Owens' name in the Ravens' locker room can draw a testy response. Five months ago, Owens got his wish and was sent to the Eagles in a settlement brokered by the NFL management council and players' union prior to an arbitration ruling.

Now, the feud will take place on a football field, not the boardroom.

Although tonight's meeting between the Ravens and the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field is set in the usually-subdued atmosphere of a preseason game, the feud between Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and Owens appears anything but friendly.

"You always have subplots, but this one is interesting," Ravens coach Brian Billick said earlier this week. "Particularly with Ray and T.O. Ray prides himself very much on being a leader and having guys around him with passion.

"For T.O. to treat him that way, with that kind of disrespect, that's something Ray will deal with."

Along with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Lewis attempted to recruit Owens at the Pro Bowl. Since then, Owens spurned the Ravens and said that Lewis wasn't the hardest hitter to ever play the game of football.

"I never proclaimed to be the hardest hitter," Lewis told CBS Sportsline. "Second and foremost, tell T.O. to keep my name out of his mouth. I don't care nothing about this guy. Why does he need me to make his reputation?

"I play football. And, sooner or later, no matter how much he talks about what he's not scared to do, he still has to line up and play football."

The tense situation has gotten to the point where Owens expects the Ravens to hit him at every opportunity.

It's give no quarter, ask for none in what might be the most overhyped preseason game in recent memory.

"For whatever reason he's obviously upset," Owens said of Lewis. "I have no grudges against Ray and I'm not sure how he feels about me. But as far as I'm concerned he's my friend."

Regardless of whether it's open season or not on Owens, who caught three passes for 23 yards against Baltimore when he was with the San Francisco 49ers last season, he's likely to have his helmet on a swivel.

"I guess you have to be aware of it," Owens said. "There's going to be some situations where they probably will have some shots at me."

However, Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller said Owens has nothing to be concerned about.

"Why would we want to hurt the man?" Fuller said. "The man has been talking since he got in the league. It's football."

So, if there's no love to be witnessed in the City of Brotherly Love between the combatants, what can actually be expected from the Ravens' defense in regards to No. 81.

"We fly around, have fun and hit people, regardless of who's on the other side of the ball, regardless of what's said in the paper," outside linebacker Adalius Thomas said. "If you don't have a Baltimore Ravens uniform on, we're out to get you."

Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed spared Owens no venom earlier this month when he said, "T.O. is a nobody. We shut him down. He's nothing."
Owens is a four-time Pro Bowl selection who has caught 592 passes for 8,572 yards and 81 touchdowns in eight seasons.

He's also a brash personality who cast aspersions on Jeff Garcia's sexual preference in a Playboy interview. He's infamous for his end-zone celebrations, especially the Sharpie incident.

Somewhat contrite, Owens said he might approach Lewis before kickoff to try to achieve a truce.

"If he's receptive to it, then yeah," Owens said. "If not, you just have to move on."

One of the primary reasons Owens chose the Eagles was his preference to play with McNabb instead of Ravens second-year quarterback Kyle Boller.

"T.O. is in the past and I've really moved on," said Boller, who directed a 95-yard scoring drive in his final series against the Atlanta Falcons last week. "I think everything has already been talked about."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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