IRVING, Texas (AP) - Terrell Owens expects nothing but affection from Philadelphia fans Sunday night.
He just figures it will come disguised as boos.
``They still love me, I don't care what they say,'' Owens said. ``Those boos, they ain't really boos, man. There's a lot of love in those boos. They ain't got no choice but to boo me because I'm on the other side. I guarantee you if I were to get traded to the Eagles right now, they would love me. ...
``Maybe I can get them to chant my name again in that stadium. At the rate things are going up there, they just might do that.''
Owens can laugh because his Dallas Cowboys are 6-1, leading the NFC East and coming off a bye, while the Eagles are 3-4 and last in the division.
The prime-time matchup Sunday will be Owens' second trip back to Philadelphia since the club told him to get away almost exactly two years ago. While time makes people forget, and the Eagles did win the division without him last year, the notion that fans who once booed Santa Claus still hold a soft spot for him is more flawed than the Liberty Bell.
Yet T.O. insists it's true.
``When you're there, they're going to love you. When you're on the opposite side, they're going to pretend like they hate you,'' Owens said. ``They know I was a good player there and I had a lot of fun, and I interacted. ... We had something special when I was there.''
In 2004, they did. Fans appreciated Owens getting out of a deal with Baltimore so he could catch passes from Donovan McNabb, then the two clicked so well the Eagles got to the Super Bowl. Owens made an unexpected return from an injury to play in the big game; he played great, too, but Philadelphia lost.
Then it all fell apart. There were mean comments about McNabb, a demand for more money and a banishment from team headquarters that resulted in him working out in his driveway, with TV cameras rolling and helicopters hovering.
On Nov. 5, 2005, team officials finally had enough and took the first steps toward getting rid of him. A few days later, with T.O. fallout still swirling, Dallas won 21-20 in Philadelphia. It's the only time the Cowboys have won up there since 1999.
Owens immediately became public enemy No. 1 for tearing apart a championship club. Signing with the dreaded Cowboys put him even farther ahead of whoever was No. 2.
Fans let him know it when Dallas played in Philadelphia last year. It happened to be a week after his accidental overdose, so they had fresh material to work with. Their singsong chant of ``T.O. T.O. T.O.'' became ``O.D. O.D. O.D.,'' and there were T-shirts that read, ``Got pills?'' In the parking lots, there were remnants of a burned No. 81 Eagles jersey, and a radio station let kids throw things at Owens bobbleheads.
Nothing personal, right?
The hecklers actually let him off pretty easy that day. Philadelphia took control early and won 38-24, so there was plenty else to keep fans occupied. Owens didn't have a catch in the first half and finished with only three for 45 yards. This was the game when his anger over his role in the offense manifested in the line, ``Why am I here?''
Owens is just fine with how things are going now that he's catching passes from Tony Romo, not Drew Bledsoe, and Wade Phillips is in charge instead of Bill Parcells.
``I'm looking forward to going in there and just having a typical T.O. day, and that's a big day for me,'' Owens said. ``They probably need to be more worried about me than me about them. And that's just realistically speaking.''
One scene worth watching is Owens shaking hands with McNabb. The pair acknowledged a few months ago that they patched things up at the Super Bowl, although Owens is changing his tune a bit about how it played out.
Owens said ``I apologized'' when he discussed it in September. On Wednesday, he said, ``No, it wasn't an apology. It was just making amends and wishing him well.''
The bottom line, though, is that they're back on speaking terms and Owens made the first step toward reconciliation.
``Probably leaving out of my hotel that night, I never would've thought that would happen,'' Owens said. ``But, you know, I was there and God led me to go over there to say what I had to say to him, and I left it at that.''
McNabb joked with Dallas reporters that he and Owens ``had tea and croquettes.'' He then changed the subject to the upcoming game, although he borrowed from Owens' repertoire to help hype it.
``As he says, `Getcha popcorn ready.'''

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