Bengals real-life reality show after Owens signing
CINCINNATI — A year after they were featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” the Bengals have scripted their own reality show.
T.O. and Ocho. Two self-conscious stars, one NFL team.
How will they fit? How will it work? Which receiver will provide most of the drama?
And, more importantly, will any of it help the Bengals get back to the playoffs?
The Bengals reached a contract agreement with receiver Terrell Owens on Tuesday, two persons familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. He’s expected to report to training camp in a day or two and sign a one-year deal that will pay him $2 million with a chance for an additional $2 million in bonuses.
The Bengals were his first choice, giving him a chance to team with close friend Chad Ochocinco, who has already dubbed the pair Batman and Robin. The Bengals made an offer on Monday, and Owens accepted a day later.
Players are required to report for the start of training camp on Wednesday in Georgetown, Ky. Owens is expected to show up when workouts begin on Thursday, said one person speaking on condition of anonymity because the team had made no announcement of the signing.
On his Twitter account, Owens replied to Ochocinco late Tuesday: “Ocho Uno is coming 2 town!! Hey Robin, Batman will b there soon!” He’s expected to sign his deal when he arrives in Georgetown.
Already, it’s like something out of a reality show.
Ochocinco gushed about the matchup on his Twitter feed, welcoming Owens and joking that “all of our games have been moved to pay-per-view, you got to pay to see this.”
Both of the look-at-me receivers are accustomed to cable.
By adding the 36-year-old Owens, the Bengals will lead the NFL in reality show stars. Ochocinco competed on “Dancing With the Stars” in the offseason, and has a dating show called “Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch” currently running on VH1. After Ochocinco’s show comes “The T.O. Show.”
Ochocinco’s last show involved eliminating two contestants. Owens’ last program had him walking down a runway as part of a fashion show in metrosexual attire — bare chest under an open jacket with a huge necklace and a wig.
In a couple of days, it will be the dancer-and-dater on one side of the field, the metrosexual model on the other.
In the middle will be quarterback Carson Palmer, who helped bring Owens to Cincinnati. Palmer worked out with Owens in California and called coach Marvin Lewis, saying the team ought to try to sign him.
“He and Chad are going to do some great things with Carson,” said Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for both receivers. “Carson Palmer had a lot to do with this deal coming together.”
Bengals owner Mike Brown went along, even though he knew Owens also brings a lot of baggage. The outspoken receiver has a history of undercutting his quarterbacks, though he was on good behavior last season in Buffalo.
Brown doesn’t mind. He has a history of providing extra chances to players who have caused trouble, allowing them to extend their careers in Bengals stripes. In the last two years, the Bengals also have signed receiver Chris Henry, running back Cedric Benson, running back Larry Johnson and receiver Matt Jones, all of whom were let go because of off-field issues.
“Yes, people can make mistakes,” Brown said at the team’s preseason luncheon on Monday. “It doesn’t mean that they go on the rest of their lives making mistakes. They can get their ship pointed in the right direction. This is a 36-year-old man. He’s been through a lot. He’s proven as a player and as a person.”
The question is how much he has left.
Owens caught 55 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns with the Bills last season, his least-productive full season since early in his career with San Francisco. The Bengals are trying to upgrade a passing game that was one of the NFL’s worst last season, ranking 26th.
The Bengals won the AFC North by relying on defense and their running game. They released receiver Laveranues Coles after his only season in Cincinnati, and went looking for a replacement. They gave Owens a tryout in March, but decided to sign Antonio Bryant to a four-year deal instead.
Brown had a one-on-one meeting with Owens and came away impressed. When the receiver still available as camp was opening, Brown decided to add him, as well.
Owens was hoping for the offer.
“The Bengals have always been the front-runner,” Rosenhaus said. “Even though I talked to some other teams during this process, the Bengals have always been the team that showed the most interest. Terrell has always been excited about them.”
Rosenhaus also has talked to the Bengals about a contract extension for Ochocinco, who is on the final year of a deal that includes a team option for 2011.
“We’ve been in discussion potentially about doing an extension,” Rosenhaus said. “So we’ll keep that going. It’s been very cordial, very positive.”