posted on Aug, 20 2004 @ 08:48 AM
Terrell Owens and Ray Lewis now can take shots at each other on the field instead of in the papers. The two friends-turned-adversaries face each other
for the first time since their mini-feud began when Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles host the Baltimore Ravens on Friday night.
Owens, the Pro Bowl wide receiver, and Lewis, the All-Pro linebacker, have had some testy exchanges since Owens spurned the Ravens, forcing a trade to
the Eagles after the San Francisco 49ers dealt him to Baltimore.
Lewis warned Owens not to go across the middle. Owens responded by saying Lewis isn't the hardest hitter he has faced.
"I'm sure everybody knows that we've had a little war of words, but these are issues that you pray about," Owens said. "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."
Lewis lobbied hard to get Owens to join the Ravens in the offseason. After a paperwork snafu prevented Owens from becoming a free agent, Lewis got his
wish when Baltimore acquired the outspoken receiver from the 49ers.
But Owens protested the trade, refused to show up for a physical and insisted he wanted to play in Philadelphia. The union then filed a grievance on
Owens' behalf to make him a free agent.
The three teams agreed to a trade before an arbitrator could rule on the case.
"He's an Eagle. Why are we making a big deal about it?" Ravens safety Corey Fuller said. "The man's been talking since he's been in the NFL. It's part
of his nature. You can't hate him for that. It's just Terrell."
The rivalry spices up a meaningless preseason game in which the starters aren't expected to play much. Ravens coach Brian Billick said his
first-teamers will get about 25 snaps. Eagles coach Andy Reid plans to give his first unit a full half.
It's possible Lewis will have to wait until the teams meet in the regular season on Oct. 31 to get a real shot at Owens.
"Ray Lewis is a very good football player and so is T.O.," Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "If they come across each other, so be
it. I don't think it is going to be a deal where they each have a lighting rod or anything like that."
Philadelphia is coming off a dismal performance in a 24-6 loss to Super Bowl champion New England last week. The Eagles committed 14 penalties and
only managed two field goals.
"Some good things happened. We also had, obviously, some penalties and mistakes that we want back," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "But that's what
the preseason is for."
Meanwhile, the Ravens were sharp in their preseason opener, shutting out Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons 24-0.
"We're basically just concentrating on what we do," Ravens receiver Kevin Johnson said. "We don't care about what they're going to do. We're just
going to go out there and execute and do what we do."
It will be the first time the Eagles play at Lincoln Financial Field since a heartbreaking loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC championship game
-- the third straight year Philadelphia fell one win short of the Super Bowl.
The additions of Owens, three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse and linebackers Dhani Jones and Jeremiah Trotter make the Eagles favorites to
win a fourth straight NFC East title.
But the Eagles are having problems staying healthy. They lost starting defensive end N.D. Kalu to a season-ending knee injury this week, and 12
others, including safety Brian Dawkins and defensive tackle Corey Simon, are on the injured list.
The Ravens spent this week talking about the prospect of having Deion Sanders come out of retirement and be a part of their defensive backfield.
Sanders, the former All-Pro cornerback, is working out at his Dallas home in an effort to determine if his 37-year-old body can take the punishment of
playing in the NFL.