Fourteen years of dealing with NFL receivers have turned Drew Bledsoe, an English major at Washington State, into an amateur psychologist.
"The receiver position in general has volatile guys who are highly competitive and often don't touch the ball as much as they want to," Bledsoe said. "I've dealt with a lot of these guys. Eric Moulds could be a pain in the butt at times. I had Keyshawn Johnson. I had Terry Glenn when he was young and went through some stuff. He's a different guy now. That's just the nature of the position."
By season's end, Bledsoe probably will be able to hang up a shingle and start a clinic. Or he might need counseling, because now he has to deal with Terrell Owens, who has trashed his former 49ers quarterback, Jeff Garcia, and ripped apart Donovan McNabb's locker room in Philadelphia. America's Team is adjusting to the NFL's greatest headache.
His entrance Saturday in Oxnard, Calif., was typical T.O. Thousands of Cowboys fans chanted "T.O., T.O., T.O" as Owens -- always the last player to run onto the field in practice -- raced to the field. He electrified the crowd with a 70-yard catch.
For skills, he's a dream. Owens is a rare combination of size, speed, breakaway ability, hand-eye coordination and hands. But as a teammate, he can be a nightmare. Jerry Jones bought the whole package for $25 million over three seasons. Bill Parcells and Bledsoe have to deal with the good and the bad.
"You don't think I haven't been observing and watching," Parcells said. "You have to live in a closet to not know some of the things. You look at it. He's here. So my job is to get that player into the system and get him going. There is no magic formula dealing with radical players. You approach it honestly and go from there."
Owens couldn't have been nicer at the opening of camp. He was smiling, accommodating and friendly. Early in practice, Bledsoe went over to Owens and said, "Get ready to have some fun." Owens didn't have to run to a publisher to claim quarterback harassment.
"Regardless of the opinions and speculation, I'm going to be myself," Owens said. "I have nothing to prove. I mean, the sky is the limit to me. Let's say the star is the limit."
Oh, yes, "The Star." Owens, while a member of the 49ers, celebrated by spiking the ball on the Cowboys star at midfield of Texas Stadium after a touchdown. Bledsoe knows there will be problems with Owens. Parcells can't guarantee a successful relationship but he feels good about the Owens experience so far.
"I've had success with these type of players," Parcells said about dealing with high maintenance players. "All of these players that you would be referring to had one common trait: they respond to competition. If a player doesn't respond to competition, I can not deal with them. Those guys, once you show them where the competition is, most of them would respond favorably to it."
Owens had a blast Saturday competing against cornerback Terence Newman and safety Roy Williams, who ironically is the player whose tackle broke Owens' leg and created the opportunity for his heroic recovery to play in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots.
"Eyes are always on me, and that doesn't bother me," Owens said.
Owens wouldn't field any questions about the Eagles or Donovan McNabb. He handled that in his book. "There was a lot of things I've gotten off my chest," Owens said. "I'm stress free at this point."