Bill Parcells’ Relationship With Terrell Owens Was so Bad He Wouldn’t Even Say His Name

Terrell Owens might be as well-known for his high-profile run-ins with people as he is for his NFL career. In the lead-up to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, former teammates and coaches gave their opinions on Owens and his accomplishments. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells gave an especially two-sided rundown of Owens’ career.

Terrell Owens and Bill Parcells

When the Cowboys acquired Owens in 2006, they didn’t know what to expect. He was, after all, one of the greatest wide receivers that the league had ever seen and just two years removed from a run that ended with a loss in the Super Bowl. As far as football went, there was little cause for concern. Where the concern began, however, was with his antics off the field.

Whether it was Jeff Garcia or Donovan McNabb, Owens tended to alienate his teammates and leave locker rooms in shambles. With the Cowboys, however, there was a particular image that the team expected Owens to uphold. When it came to his play, however, Owens delivered precisely what they wanted. He rushed for nearly 1,200 yards his first year as the Cowboys made the postseason thanks to him and new starter Tony Romo. 

This was the only year that Owens played for Bill Parcells. As far as the impact he had on the team’s play, the results were undeniable. Owens had a rapport with Romo and was still one of the best as he approached 35. Off the field, however, some tensions eventually boiled over. 

Parcells speaks about Owens

In a 2017 Fox Sports interview discussing Owens’ chances at the Hall of Fame, Parcells acknowledged that times weren’t always good with the team. While Owens and Parcells didn’t have the public falling out the receiver had with other teams, his ego caused a well-documented rift between the two. Without going into detail, Parcells acknowledged this in an interview with ESPN. When asked about Owens’ Hall of Fame vote, Parcells said that he would vote Owens in.

“I think I would. I think I would,” Parcells told ESPN via Fox Sports. “I had my issues with him a little bit, but that’s not unlike some other players, and you just have to deal with those things and make the best of it. Sometimes it’s not comfortable for everybody, but you have to make the best of it.”

Without going into specifics, Parcells laid out the challenges of having such a disruptive yet valuable presence in a locker room. At one point, reports ESPN, he even refused to say his star receiver’s name. 

“He certainly was highly productive,” he said. “He was highly productive and did some very remarkable things on the field. He also came with some other things you had to deal with. And sometimes they weren’t always pleasant for some of the places that he was. But that being said, it’s a production business, and he did produce at an extremely high level.”

The Terrell Owens conundrum


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Parcells’ comments were nothing new. They echo a pattern that was laid down by several other former friends and colleagues during the time of the vote. His Hall of Fame accolades were undeniable. From a sheer talent standpoint, few have ever reached the heights that he did. With that, however, came the sideshow that was equally defining. 

Owens eventually made it into the Hall of Fame, but it awoke sleeping dragons about his past conduct. To Owens’ credit, reports Sports Illustrated, he has acknowledged that his past behavior alienated a lot of people. Now in retirement, the elephant in the room regarding his contact is equally a part of his legacy as every touchdown.