Less than two weeks from his 42d birthday, Terrell Owens said he’s still hoping to run one last NFL route, still open to a return, five years after his last NFL game.
And Owens told the Globe he would definitely be interested in working out with the receiver-thin Patriots, who saw two more pass catchers succumb to injury during their rugged 20-13 Monday night win over the Buffalo Bills.
Owens, who lives in Los Angeles, said he is in good shape, and he is still smarting from his unceremonious exit from the NFL when he was released by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.
“Would I be open to it? Considering an organization like the Patriots? Yes,” said Owens, who is working for a company called Athlete Promotions during his retirement. “Knowing Tom [Brady] and understanding the structure of what Bill Belichick, how he runs his ship, I have no problem with that. A lot of people will obviously speculate into what I may bring from a negative standpoint to that organization.”
Owens does have a history of wearing out his welcome with teams with his attitude and outlandish behavior. From 1996-2010, he played for five teams, and that doesn’t include the Seahawks, who had him under contract briefly in August 2012.
He fully realizes that his reputation precedes him, but insists he would be willing to fit into any system.
“I’m not that same guy I was five, 10 years ago,” he said. “In terms of me understanding the situation that I’m getting myself into, then I would have to govern myself accordingly, understanding there’s going to be a lot of negative things said if that were to be the case.
“Am I capable of playing? Absolutely.”
In his 15-year career, Owens caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. He was named to six Pro Bowl teams and was a first-team All-Pro five times. In his most recent NFL season, 2010, he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals. He sat out 2011 because of a knee injury and then signed with Seattle the next year.
If he stays retired, he would be a first-year candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next summer.
“Do I consider myself in top game shape? No,” said Owens. “But could I come in a help a team? Yes, absolutely.
“I still know how to play the game enough to be productive. Could I get myself in better shape as the season goes on? Absolutely.”
The chance of Owens even getting a workout is unlikely, but he maintains he is not the average 41-year-old. He was always in immaculate shape during his playing days and said he still works out, playing basketball and running routes to remain sharp.
Receivers with health issues such as Hakeem Nicks and former Patriot Wes Welker have recently signed with NFL clubs, a testament to the lack of depth at wide receiver due to a rash of injuries.
“I don’t know what their needs would be or their considerations would be by bringing me in, but I definitely think an organization like that, it would be an ideal situation for myself to be part of,” said Owens.
“If they want to work me out to see what I can do if I’m catching or running or cutting, I have no problem with that.
“Sometimes understanding the business and how things go and how general managers and owners operate, they may feel if I come in, it may disrupt or bring some negative attention to the organization. There’s a lot of PR, red tape that they don’t feel like they want to have to go through.
“But again, I don’t have a problem. It’s not a problem for me to work out or show somebody that I can still play. That’s not an issue.”
Postponing his Hall of Fame eligibility wouldn’t be a deterrent to playing, he said.
“No, that doesn’t even bother me,” he said. “Me going into the Hall of Fame has never really been a big deal, never really been high on my list.
“You have people in the Hall of Fame weighing in on whether I should be or shouldn’t be. My stats kind of speak for itself. People want to factor in how I interacted or how well I got along with the media, and my character has been in question.
“Other than people not really liking how I interacted with the media, I’ve really never had any off-the-field problems or anything like that. The most I can say about people weighing in on my character or my attitude is, for me, they misconstrued my passion for the game and my competitiveness for the game the wrong way.”
Asked if his surgically repaired knee from 2011 is an issue, Owens, who wore No. 81 throughout his career, said, “That has no bearing on anything. I’m fully 181 percent recovered from that.”