Terrell Owens Biography

Football Player, Athlete (1973–)
Terrell Owens is a longtime National Football League wide receiver whose career has been marked by Hall of Fame numbers and controversial statements.


American football wide receiver Terrell Eldorado Owens was born in Alabama in 1973. He was a standout high school athlete who went on to play football at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In the 1996 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected Owens in the third round. In his pro career, Owens has matched his Hall of Fame numbers with an ego that has forced his release from several teams.

Early Life and Career

Terrell Eldorado Owens was born in Alexander City, Alabama, on December 7, 1973. Owens was primarily brought up by his grandmother, a Baptist, who had a love for the Bible and the bottle. Owens and his three siblings along with his mother moved in with her after they had fallen on hard times. It was only at age 11 that Owens met his father, who lived across the street from his boy but largely refused to have anything to do with his life.

In athletics, Terrell Owens found refuge from the complications of his family life. At Benjamin Russell High School, he was a star in several sports, including baseball, basketball, track and football.

In 1993, Owens enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where the speedy 6'3" receiver set several school records and earned first-team All Southern Conference honors. In the 1996 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected Owens in the third round.

Professional Career

During his eight years in San Francisco, Owens transformed himself into one of the league's most feared wide receivers. After catching 35 balls in his rookie season, Owens made steady gains over the next several years. In 2002, he nabbed 100 catches and registered more than 1,300 receiving yards.

As his talent emerged, however, so did his mouth. Largely known strictly as T.O., Owens proved to have a penchant for speaking his mind, even if it meant throwing his own teammates under the bus.

After several tumultuous seasons in San Francisco, Owens signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. The marriage between franchise and player worked well, at first. Owens put up Pro Bowl numbers and, despite breaking his leg late in the season, returned to the team less than two months later to take his starting role in Super Bowl XXXIX, where the Eagles were defeated by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

His second season in Philadelphia, however, went much less smoothly. Unhappy with his contract and critical of the team's quarterback, Donovan McNabb, Owens was released by the club in 2006. He soon hooked on with the Dallas Cowboys, where again, Owens' talent and ego were on full display. He lasted three seasons before being jettisoned.

After playing for the Buffalo Bills in 2009, Owens signed on with the Cincinnati Bengals for the 2010 season. While there, Owens became the subject of his own reality TV show on VH1, called The T.O. Show. The show ran for three seasons.

Despite putting up respectable numbers in Cincinnati (72 catches, nine touchdown receptions), Owens' act outgrew its welcome, and in 2011 he did not receive a single offer from an NFL club.

Owens joined the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League in early 2012, hoping a strong performance would catch the attention of NFL personnel. He did sign a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks over the summer, but was released prior to the start of the 2012 NFL season. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, he ranked second all-time in career touchdown receptions and receiving yards at the time of his final game.

Personal Issues

Throughout his long NFL career, Owens has been plagued by problems off the field. His issues made front-page headlines in 2006, when stories circulated that Owens had tried to take his own life by overdosing on medication. Owens quickly dismissed the story, telling reporters he'd been hospitalized for an allergic reaction to a medicine he'd been prescribed.

More recently, Owens, the father of four children, was hauled into court for neglecting to pay child support. Owens, who ended up appearing on the Dr. Phil show with the mothers of his children, claimed he had lost all his money and was unable to give his kids any kind of financial assistance. In July 2012, shortly before signing with Seattle, Owens was reported to have caught up on his child support payments.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!