PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 5, 2006) -- He was a fan favorite before a bitter split from Philadelphia turned the diehards against him, cursing and jeering his every move in his first trip back.
"When you're on the team, they love you. When you're not, they hate you," Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "They'll say anything to get under your skin."
Trotter knows exactly what Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens should expect Sunday when he returns to the city he called home for two tumultuous seasons. Trotter felt the fans' wrath after leaving the Eagles for the Redskins in a contract dispute after the 2001 season.
The face-painted faithful took drunken glee in yelling a "lot of stuff I can't repeat," said Trotter, who re-joined Philadelphia in 2004.
But the normal expletives, boos and creative costumes might be downright tame for what Eagles fans have planned for Owens, who helped the team to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
"I'm expecting the energy level, the crowd level is going to be something we haven't had around here in a long time," Trotter said.
Maybe not since they beat Atlanta to win the NFC championship game in 2005.
Owens missed that game recovering from a severely sprained ankle and broken fibula but recovered in time for the Super Bowl. But then he started grumbling about his contract and bashing quarterback Donovan McNabb and the rest of the organization, so the Eagles banished him seven games into last season.
If Owens ever wears an Eagles jersey again, it likely will be only in the privacy of his own home.
Trotter, however, got a second chance.
During his first stint with the Eagles, Trotter established himself as the emotional leader. The two-time Pro Bowl selection led the team in tackles from 1999-2001, including a career-best 202 in his first season as a starter in 1999.
After the 2001 season, the Eagles placed the franchise tag on Trotter, which he strongly protested. His relationship with coach Andy Reid and team president Joe Banner quickly deteriorated, and he signed with the Redskins soon after the Eagles removed the tag, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Trotter never lived up to expectations in Washington, was cut and returned to Philadelphia after a humbling reconciliation with Reid. And the fans have fallen back in love with Trotter and his ax-chop celebrations.
But the linebacker, who tried to act as a mediator between Owens and McNabb as their relationship broke down, is still friends with the Cowboys wide receiver, swapping the occasional text messages.
Owens sent Trotter one on Oct. 5 that read: "T.O. is coming to town."
Friends or not, Trotter is ready to take on his football rival. Turns out, the fans might not be the only ones Owens should avoid.
"When somebody comes across the field, all I'm going to see is that star on the helmet," Trotter said. "If you have a different color jersey on, you're going to get the same punishment as anybody else."
Chance are, the fans won't be that discriminatory.