Centre of attention

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- For his latest temperamental act, T.O. the terrible had a case of the terrible twos.

The egomaniacal receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles had an especially juvenile greeting this week for a pair of visiting reporters from San Francisco.

When approached at his locker, Owens, who hasn't talked to Philly reporters in five weeks, put his fingers in his ear and like a toddler started chanting "la, la, la, la."

The next act in the freak show that is threatening to spoil one of the NFL's elite teams takes place this afternoon at Lincoln Financial field.

It is here that Owens and the Eagles will face a pair of angry audiences. The first are the visiting 49ers who had to put up with his "me show" for eight NFL seasons.

The second is the rough Philly crowd who will see him in action for the first time since an off-season in which he slammed quarterback Donovan McNabb and then demanded a huge pay increase.

"That's what he likes, the attention," Eagles receiver Darnerien McCants told reporters in Philly this week. "Why not, I guess. He's the best marketer of his own product and that's T.O. Enterprises."

Back on the other coast, first-year 49ers coach Mike Nolan attempted to invoke an anti-T.O. policy on his team. But so deep is the disdain, that many players couldn't resist.

"At the end, he was just in it for himself," linebacker Derek Smith said. "He really fell off the deep end ... I don't agree with any of that. No one is above the team."

If they haven't already, Smith believes, the Eagles will soon learn how destructive T.O. can be.

"It's only a matter of time," Smith said. "You put a bad apple in with a bunch of good apples and it's just a matter of time before the other apples spoil."

Should the Eagles look as miserable as they did in a 14-10 loss to the Falcons this past Monday night, the home fans will let them know how they feel. And Owens will surely be a target.

The folks in Philly didn't appreciate his remark weeks after the season when he slammed McNabb by saying "I wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl."

As for McNabb, he is nursing a sore chest after being flattened by the Falcons Chad Lavalais. McNabb is listed as questionable but plans to play with the added protection of a flak jacket.

The injury is expected to restrict McNabb's mobility, which may just play into the hands of a fired-up 49ers defence.

As 13-point underdogs, not many are expecting San Francisco to match their upset of the Vikings in Week 1.

But with a little confidence and a load of motivation, the 49ers intend to let the Eagles know they are in a game.

"I'm looking forward to playing him, let's just leave it at that," 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said of Owens. "I'm not one of his homies. I wish I could tell you how I really felt."


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