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T.O. on being tardy, fined: 'I overslept'

IRVING, Texas (Aug. 28, 2006) -- Terrell Owens overslept. That's it.

He insists he wasn't late for work to send a messages to his bosses, test his boundaries or anything else his critics might think.

And, get this: He says it'll probably happen again, even if he was fined $9,500.

"I think everybody has overslept, you know, once or twice in their life," Owens said, more amused than angry that a fuss is being made over something that's happened to him before, though not since he's joined the Cowboys.

"It's not a big deal," he said. "It was not something I purposely tried to do. It's something that I will try to make more of an effort, a better effort, to get here on time. Other than that, it's really not a big issue."

Jerry Jones agrees, pointing out that some of the most upstanding citizens in team history were fined for similar transgressions.

He also insisted it's a mistake to read more into Owens' tardiness, the fine and his lingering hamstring issue simply because of T.O.'s past.

"From my standpoint, it's all good," Jones said. "Apart from him not being on the field and getting repetitions, has it in any way affected relationships on this team, teammates on this team, relationships between me and Bill, me and the coaching staff, Terrell and Bill, Terrell and the coaching staff? Zero impact there."

Owens called his tardiness "very unfortunate" and apologized to his teammates. But, he added, "I've got to move on. I can't let this get me down."

His tender hamstring is taking care of that.

Owens missed his 20th workout of the preseason and is unlikely to play at home against Minnesota. The bigger question is whether he'll play the season opener in Jacksonville.

"I feel like I'm doing above and beyond things to get back on the field, whether a lot of people know that or not," he said. "I'm doing everything. Sometimes I come in here late at night just doing extra treatment, getting in the hot tub, cold tub. ... I think it's sometimes unfair that I'm getting all this criticism because I'm hurt."

Whether Owens plays in the opener will depend on when he starts practicing. If he never practices, he definitely won't play the opener -- even if Jones has mentioned that Deion Sanders used to get away it.

Parcells said he has to see what Owens can do. And he's not talking about watching highlights from the last 10 years, as Owens suggested last week.

"What if he got hurt or didn't perform, what would happen then?" Parcells said. "How would I know he is healthy if he didn't practice? How would I know?"

Jones said he lets Parcells decide who to play.

"That's an area I probably could influence, but, no, I have never influenced in my 17 years with the Cowboys as far as who goes in the game and who doesn't and what time they go into the game," Jones said.

Jones and Parcells declined to comment specifically about the fine, saying it's an internal matter. Jones went so far as to say he'd fire whoever leaked the news, "I don't care who it is."

Yet Parcells knew he'd be asked about it, especially when he walked in for his usual news conference and saw more reporters than normal. He sat down, smiled and said, "Is this the Cuban missile crisis today?"

"I know what you're all waiting for," Parcells said, "and it's going to be in vain."

Parcells said he's known since the day Owens signed that, as the coach, he'd have to deal with all sorts of additional headaches, legitimate or not. But he's not going to let "all those chatterboxes" change the way he runs his team.

"I'm going to do what I think is best for the Dallas Cowboys," he said. "Whatever opinion anyone else has is totally irrelevant to my line of thinking because they don't have all the facts, and I do. So I operate from a position of advantage. I consider the team itself, the coaching staff, what we're trying to do here. I consider things you people don't even think of."

Parcells also had a message to players who question what Owens may or may not be getting away with.

"Them players need to worry about themselves, their job and what they are doing," he said. "There are some that have been with me that know. Then there are others, they are going to have to learn."

Just to clarify, Parcells said Owens "hasn't been a problem at all."

Still, it's clear that Parcells and Owens either have no relationship or a fragile one. Even T.O. admitted, "I wouldn't say our relationship is where it needs to be."

"But I think it's a building process for the both of us," Owens said. "It's obviously a work in progress. At this point, there is no tension between us."

At this point.

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