IRVING — Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens has drawn scrutiny from the NFL, which couldn't reach him for a day as it tried to set up drug testing.
Owens has since passed a test for performance enhancing drugs and, according to a source, has never failed a test.
"This was a communication problem involving cell phone numbers. It was openly discussed and cleared up in a meeting that I had at the NFL Office last week. I have been in the NFL for over 12 years and have never had a positive test for substance of any kind," Owens said in a statement released by his publicist. "That includes tests that took place as recently as last month. The matter was resolved to everyone's satisfaction last Tuesday, and everyone has moved on."
Still, the league thought it was important enough to summons Owens to New York for a meeting and an explanation.
The meeting occurred last Tuesday — the same day Owens and the Cowboys came to terms on a new four-year, $34 million contract.
Owens missed organized team activity practices that day. Upon signing the contract, he acknowledged his absence Tuesday was due in part to him being in New York to "meet with the league," among other things.
"This was a procedural matter that was resolved last week. We were aware of all of the facts prior to Terrell’s meeting in New York, and we had no reservations about extending his contract. We make those decisions based upon our knowledge of a player over the course of his entire career," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "We signed Terrell to the new contract, because there are no issues with Terrell."
According to ESPN, the league accepted Owens' explanation for the missed calls.
So instead of fining or suspending him — which are two possible outcomes when a test is missed or delayed — they have placed him in the reasonable cause testing program, ESPN reported. Owens is now subject to random testing for performance enhancers, up to a maximum of 24 annual screenings, and these additional screenings can be required, if the NFL chooses to do so, for the remainder of his NFL career.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would have no comment.
However, the Cowboys do not think the issue is a big deal or that they are at risk of losing Owens.
It did not deter Jones from giving Owens a $12.9 million bonus to ensure that the receiver — who has remade his image in two years in Dallas after being unceremoniously dumped by the Philadelphia Eagles — retires as a member of the Cowboys.