There must be a few people who will want to read the autobiography of one of pro football's best receivers, Terrell Owens.
For most, it's a little early to read the personal reflections of a rich, full life. Owens is only 30 years old, and hasn't come close to winning an NFL championship.
Owens, who currently is playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, is best known for his celebratory antics. In Dallas, he scored a touchdown in a 2000 game and then sprinted to the star on the 50-yard line of the middle of the field to pose a bit. When he did it again later in the game, Owens was flattened by an angry George Teague of the Cowboys, and a national conversation about Owens' actions lasted for the next week.
In 2002, Owens caught a touchdown pass in Seattle, pulled a pen out of his sock, autographed the ball, and handed it to his financial planner. Owens has also danced with cheerleaders on the sideline after recording six points.
Owens says he makes these gestures as a way to say hello to his mother back in Alabama. You can imagine how popular that idea is with football coaches.
Reaction to Owens' stunts among fans generally breaks down into "old school/new school" divisions. Old-timers think that, in former Bills' coach Marv Levy's words, when you score you should act like you've been there before. The new generation thinks it's all funny. If nothing else, readers of the book at least will understand where Owens is coming from . . . and where he came from.
Owens grew up in Alexander City, Ala., which is an hour from Birmingham, and overcame a lot to get where he is today. His mother worked at a clothing factory and somehow scrimped up enough money to keep the family in food and clothes. His father wasn't around the house, although Owens found out as a teen that his dad was living right across the street for much of Owens' childhood.
Owens' grandmother did much of the child-rearing, and the strict upbringing had its effects. He was in his pajamas by 7 p.m., even on summer nights. Owens would look out longingly at the other kids who were enjoying playtime after dinner on summer nights. Inside, Owens says, "There was a lot of praying and a lot of obedience but very little celebrating going on." Owens later discovered that sports (football and basketball in particular) were a way to get out of the house, and they helped a shy child get noticed.
Owens attended the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he received enough attention to be a third-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers. There he became the heir apparent to Jerry Rice, arguably the greatest wide receiver in the history of pro football.
While in San Francisco, he had some differences with quarterback Jeff Garcia. Owens argued that he should be getting the ball thrown his way more often. Now, keep in mind that every good wide receiver in the history of pro football wants the ball on virtually every play. The drive that makes them a great player has a selfish side, and it comes out in that form. When Rice's streak of catching a ball in 274 consecutive games came to an end against the Buffalo Bills this fall, Rice threw his helmet near the end of the game -- even though his Oakland Raiders were about to win. Owens and Garcia had some public spats, although the two had talked about the situation and turned down the temperature.
But last winter, Owens was asked a question on his Web site about Garcia. He replied, "I'm nt blaming the whole season on him. But bein a QB holds big responsibilities!!!! Havin said that, how about his DUI situation? Everybody wants to criticize me 4 this & that, but hv I represented the 49ers n tht fashion, nope -- I dn't think so! I'm nt the problem, I'm the answer! If I cn't get a QB 2 help us win the Superbowl -- I wn't b back!"
After reading that, you'll probably be convinced that Owens is on the insecure side -- and be happy that he hired a ghostwriter to help him with the book.
A few other words come up while reading Owens' book. He's learned a bit about life since coming out of rural Alabama, but he's still rather naive in many areas. The phrase self-absorbed also comes to mind. To be fair, he's also full of love for his family, and has an impressive work ethic that has helped him become a celebrated athlete. But quite often, Owens' book has too many stories about games that aren't that interesting or significant and incidents that should be mere footnotes in a life.
Owens jumped to the Philadelphia Eagles over the offseason, and he hopes he's the last piece of the puzzle that will allow the Eagles to reach the Super Bowl. If he does that -- and he very well may, based on the season to date -- he might have some accomplishments worth reading about. Until then, there's little reason to catch "Catch This!"
By Terrell Owens and Stephen Singular
Simon & Schuster, 270 pages, $23
Budd Bailey is a member of The News' sports department.