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Settle It On The Court
April 17 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
While Terrell Owens and Steve Mariucci had their conversation. It was supposed to 'set the record strait'. It was supposed to establish a trust between the two. And it may have indeed done that. Surprisingly though, Owens did not use the opportunity to tell the coach about his new basketball contract. Owens' agent announced to the media a deal that would have Owens playing with the Wildcats of the USBL.

Owens played in the league last year, and the league does not interfere with the NFL season, or training camps so it shouldn't really be that big of a surprise. Owens has always expressed his passion for basketball, and has on several occasions expressed that he'd rather be in the NBA than the NFL. Thankfully while Owens is a gifted athlete, he's not quite NBA material - at least he hasn't proven to be yet.

While it's common courtesy for Owens to ask the 49ers if he can play for another team, it's unclear if he has or if he will. It's hard to believe that the 49ers would be able to say "no" though, considering it does not effect his contract with the team. Furthermore, it's safe to say Owens would be playing basketball, be it at a community center or with his buddies on someone's driveway or in a park even if he didn't sign on to USBL league.

As much as I'm in favor of individual rights and freedoms, the 49ers should be worried about their go-to-guy playing another sport at an aggressive, competitive level. There is a constant risk of injury in any sport, and if Owens goes down with a severe ankle injury (for example) it could seriously hamper the development of the team. I don't believe the 49ers should attempt to prevent Owens from joining the league, attempt to persuade him otherwise maybe- but not prevent, I think that would only develop further strained relations with the team. Rather the team should have a backup plan. That plan should cover them financially in the event that Owens does get injured playing basketball, and that plan should have someone in place to step in for Owens if he were to go down.

The 49ers should seriously consider signing receiver Willie Jackson who was in for a workout on Monday, or drafting one of the top receivers in the draft. If not to push Stokes for the number two position than to add insurance for Owens. Jackson or possibly a high draft pick would help the team regardless of Owens or Stokes status, and thus the team would be covered. The move seems to make sense, and in the coming week we will see just how they handle the situation.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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