PHILADELPHIA -- They tried all sorts of schoolyard tricks to make Terrell Owens feel like part of the gang yesterday.
The Eagles coaching staff made him an honourary captain before the home opener in front of a wild Philly crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb played nice, tossing touchdown passes of 68 and 42 yards Owens' way.
But try as they might, even with a 42-3 thrashing of T.O.'s former team, the San Francisco 49ers, they couldn't turn his frown upside down.
For a guy who clearly loves the spotlight, Owens doesn't give the vibe that he's enjoying the ride. On the sideline, he sat by himself, usually as far away from McNabb as possible.
In the locker room, after packing up his stereo and tossing his dirty laundry, he brushed by the media with not a word, just a wave.
"He said he always gets geeked for every game," fellow receiver Greg Lewis said of Owens. "Whether he is the captain or not the captain or whether we're playing the 49ers or whether we're not playing the 49ers. That's just T.O. He's gonna do it his way."
After a year and two games as his teammate, McNabb seems to grudgingly have figured it out. Still clearly hurt by Owens' off-season criticism of the way he played in the Super Bowl, the quarterback has taken the high road.
He made his teammate a big part of the offence yesterday, hitting him for two of the biggest plays of the game.
"Whatever is the past, hopefully it's over," said
McNabb, who had five touchdown passes before taking the fourth quarter off to rest and protect his bruised sternum. "If it's not, what we're doing now is (working fine)."
McNabb did his part by leading the Eagles to 583 yards of total offence. Owens did his part with his two TD catches. After the latter score, he placed the ball in the end zone and struck a lengthy pose for the delirious fans at the Linc.
To add to the T.O. entertainment index, he snagged a 20-yard catch on a crossing route up the middle, and was steamrolled by head-hunting 49ers safety Mike Rumph. Owens popped up immediately and didn't' miss a play, a signal to the San Fran sideline that they couldn't get to him.
The silent treatment he gives his own team, it seems, is less of a distraction than it is to the opposition.
"He doesn't let all that bother him," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, a T.O. target in the past. "Obviously there are some guys who like him and guys who didn't like him. He doesn't get into that."
Meanwhile, with their biggest blowout win since 1980, the Eagles served notice they quickly have washed away the bad taste of an opening week loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
"We're the NFC champs," Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "We're not going to go out and say it, we're going to go out and show it."
As for McNabb, he had far more to worry about than whether Owens would give him the time of day.
Aching from the injury suffered last week, McNabb hoped he'd have the strength to get out of bed yesterday, let alone throw the football. He didn't practice until Friday.
"There were different pads and pads under the pads," said McNabb, who had five touchdown passes in three quarters of play "For days, it was sore to sleep, it was sore to move around and sore to get up."