LAS VEGAS — Terrell Owens has finally found a sport where he doesn’t have to worry about getting the ball.
T.O. wants to be a professional bowler.
"You never know where it may go," Owens said. "For me the sky is the limit with my ability and what I can do."
The former wide receiver still believes he should be on the football field on Sundays, catching passes and making millions like he did not so long ago. He’ll spend this weekend trying to make his mark on the lanes instead.
"I’m not just making a cameo," Owens said in a telephone interview. "I know critics want to come out of the woodwork. But when I first got on a football team I wasn’t very good."
Owens doesn’t appear to be all that good at bowling, either, though he does claim a high game of 288. He’s a bit vague, though, about how often he bowls and what his average is.
He did, however, compete on a team sponsored by the Bowlers Journal this summer at the United States Bowling Congress Championship, the largest amateur event in the country. Owens posted a combined score of 1,508 for team, singles and doubles for a 167 average.
"I know I have competitive ability to do it otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it," he said. "I just have to go out there and bowl like everyone else."
Owens gets a chance to do that this weekend when he competes in the PBA World Series of Bowling at the South Point hotel’s bowling center. Though he admits his chances of making it past the qualifying rounds are slim, he sees a future in bowling.
"I’m going to have fun with it, see where I am, and make some adjustments after that," Owens said.
The 39-year-old certainly did that in his former career, which spanned 15 years with five teams. He was a showboat who sometimes scuffled with teammates — most notably Donovan McNabb when the two were together on the Philadelphia Eagles — but he delivered on the field with 1,078 catches for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.
As far as his bowling ability goes, well, there’s as big a difference between bowling in recreational leagues and PBA tour events as there is in playing flag football or being on the Dallas Cowboys.
"It’s unfair for all the bowlers in the world to compare him with us. It’s not a fair comparison," said Norm Duke, the winner of 37 PBA titles and a bowling mentor of sorts to Owens. "He does have a pretty good fundamentally sound bowling game, but we should be fair to him. He knows his role here. He wants to see what it is like."
Owens, who hasn’t played in the NFL since catching 72 passes in the 2010 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, says he has been keeping in shape while trying to get back in the league. He thought he might have a shot with a team this season, but no one called for a player who believes he can still function as a possession receiver.
That might have as much to do with his penchant throughout his career for getting in disputes with teammates, coaches and owners as it does with his ability on the field, something Owens admits.
"Football is football, it’s not like I can’t play," he said. "Whether somebody wants me on their team is a different story."
Other than his improving bowling skills, things haven’t gone well for Owens since he last played football. He told GQ magazine last year he was broke and alone after making nearly $80 million in his football career, and later went on the "Dr. Phil" show, where three women he’s had children with accused him of not visiting them and failing to make child support payments.
"I don’t want to get into that," Owens said. "I just want to talk about bowling."