Bengals owner Mike Brown is trying to produce his own reality show.
Brown said Monday that the team has discussed a contract with Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The Bengals passed on the chance to sign the 36-year-old receiver after a March tryout, but they have given it more thought now that Owens remains a free agent.
“It’s up to him,” Brown said at the Bengals’ annual preseason luncheon. “We are talking to him. We have some interest.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Bengals made an official offer Monday and hope to have Owens’ answer by Wednesday. That’s when the Bengals are scheduled to report to training camp in Georgetown, Ky., with the first practice set for Thursday.
Owens will not have to make a decision about possibly joining the St. Louis Rams. A team source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that the Rams, who were two of several teams that had maintained contact with Owens this offseason, decided against offering him a deal.
That leaves the Bengals as the only team that’s publicly in the mix. While discussing his interest in Owens, Brown noted that the receiver caught the winning 57-yard touchdown pass during the Dallas Cowboys‘ 31-22 victory over the Bengals in 2008.
“I think that I would rather have him line up on our side of the ball than the other side of the ball,” Brown said. “I can remember playing Dallas a few years ago when he caught a pass across the middle that won the game for them.
“So I’ve seen him do it. I’ve seen him do it against us. I’d like him to be here and do that against somebody else.”
So would Ochocinco, the Bengals receiver who’s a close friend of T.O. and unsuccessfully lobbied for the team to sign him in March. Instead, the Bengals chose wide receiver Antonio Bryant and gave him a four-year, $28 million contract with $8.5 million guaranteed. However, there have been concerns about Bryant’s health in organized team activities and minicamp, the Enquirer reported.
Another change since then: Cincinnati’s quarterback has joined the lobbying effort. Carson Palmer, who has been working out with Owens in California, excitedly called Bengals coach Marvin Lewis about making a run at the receiver.
“Carson was really impressed with a lot of the things that Terrell was doing,” Lewis said. “Carson’s comments to me — I guess the word is they resonate well.”
If they signed Owens, the Bengals would lead the league in reality TV show stars. Ochocinco appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” during the offseason and has a dating show called “Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch” currently playing on VH1. Right after Ochocinco’s show comes “The T.O. Show.”
While Ochocinco eliminated two contestants in a recent show, Owens donned a metrosexual look — bare chest under an open jacket — for a fashion show.
Ochocinco has resumed his Twitter lobbying to sign Owens. Last March, Ochocinco dubbed the two of them Batman (Owens) and Robin. Ochocinco believes Palmer, who wears No. 9, has more sway with the front office.
“im out of the loop now, i expressed my beliefs on why he should be here and that’s all i can do, (No.)9 has the real power,” Ochocinco tweeted.
But the final say rests with Brown, who has a history of giving chances to players with trouble in their past. He repeatedly brought back receiver Chris Henry, who was arrested five times and died last year in a fall of his fiancee’s truck.
In the last two years, the Bengals also have signed running back Cedric Benson, running back Larry Johnson and receiver Matt Jones, all of whom were let go by teams because of off-the-field issues.
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, Owens pointed out that he was on good behavior last season in Buffalo, where he caught 55 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns — his least-productive full season since early in his 14-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.
“Yes, people can make mistakes,” Brown said Monday. “It doesn’t mean that they go on the rest of their lives making mistakes. They can get their ship pointed in the right direction. This is a 36-year-old man. He’s been through a lot. He’s proven as a player and as a person.”
Brown formed his opinion about Owens last March during a one-on-one meeting in conjunction with his tryout.
“When he was here, I was surprised,” Brown said. “I met with him personally and privately. He is not at all the way his public image is depicted. He’s a pleasant person, a quiet person. I found him engaging. And I do trust my own eyes on this sort of thing.
“I think that if he chose to come here, that he could help our team, and we’ll see how that plays out. It’s going to be his decision.”
Lewis denied last week that the team needed Owens, telling the team’s official Web site, “I don’t want to speak (about Terrell). We’ve been down that road. I don’t have a concern that we need to add anybody (at receiver).” But Lewis changed his tune Monday, saying the Bengals’ goals and Owens’ goals “match up.”
“He’s an effective player and you like what he brings,” Lewis said. “You like what people say about him who have had him on their football team to the positive, and we’ve just got to make sure none of the negative creeps in anymore. He’s been a couple of years beyond that.”
Rosenhaus didn’t return a message seeking comment Monday. He also represents Ochocinco, who’s entering the final season of his contract with the Bengals. The team has an option for an additional season in 2011.