Bengals’ owner wants to sign TO

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Associated Press
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
— Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is trying to produce his own reality show.

Terrell Owens. Chad Ochocinco. Together in Cincinnati.

Brown said on 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 tryout in March, but have given it more thought now that he remains a free agent.

If Owens accepts the offer, the Bengals would lead the league in reality show stars. Receiver Chad Ochocinco appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” in 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 his recent show, Owens donned a metrosexual look for a fashion show—bare chest under an open jacket and a wig.

What they’d do together in a locker room would get some attention, too.

Brown noted that Owens caught the winning 57-yard touchdown pass in Dallas’ 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, at the team’s annual preseason luncheon. “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, who is a close friend and lobbied unsuccessfully for the Bengals to sign Owens in March. Instead, they chose receiver Antonio Bryant and gave him a four-year deal.

One change since then: Cincinnati’s quarterback has joined the lobbying effort. Carson Palmer has been working out with Owens in California, and excitedly called coach Marvin Lewis about making a run to sign 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.”

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 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 career with San Francisco.

“Yes, people can make mistakes,” Brown said. “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.”

The St. Louis Rams reportedly are also interested in Owens. If he chooses Cincinnati, he could be paired on the outside with Ochocinco. Lewis said Bryant could move into an inside slot position.

Rosenhaus didn’t return a message on Monday. He also represents Ochocinco, who is entering the final season on his contract with the Bengals.

Titans sue Kiffin, USC

for luring away assistant

The Tennessee Titans are suing Southern California and coach Lane Kiffin for “maliciously” luring away assistant running backs coach Kennedy Pola a week before training camp opens.

Tennessee Football Inc., the company that owns the Titans, filed the lawsuit Monday in Davidson County Chancery Court against both the university and Kiffin.

The lawsuit accuses Southern California and Kiffin of violating Pola’s contract that required him to have written permission to discuss a job with anyone other than the Titans.

Tennessee hired Pola as running backs coach in February only to lose him Saturday to Southern California as the Trojans’ new offensive coordinator and running backs coach.

“USC and Kiffin maliciously intended to—and did—induce Pola to breach the Pola contract,” the lawsuit charges.

“USC and Kiffin engaged in improper means in their procurement of the breach and were not legally justified in their actions. Kiffin and USC’s actions, through him, were part of a course and pattern of conduct fostered by Kiffin and USC to use improper methods and means to the direct harm and damage of parties to contracts ...”

The Titans declined to comment Monday beyond the lawsuit.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher, a Southern California alumnus, said Saturday that Kiffin neglected to make the customary courtesy phone call to let him and the NFL team know he was interested in hiring Pola. Fisher himself had hired Pola, letting go Earnest Byner to free up the spot on his coaching staff.

Pola’s contract ran at least to Feb. 14, 2011.

, with the NFL in the final year of its current labor agreement with the players.

The lawsuit notes that written permission from the president and general counsel was needed because verbal “consent is inadequate.” The lawsuit also notes Southern California and Kiffin, through Pola, knew about his contract requirements.

“Pola was not given express written consent by Tennessee Football or the Commissioner of the NFL to entertain employment with any other entity,” the lawsuit argues.

The move left the Titans without a running backs coach one week before training camp opens, which the lawsuit argues disrupts planning, causes “potential loss of confidence by players” and the loss of salary and benefits already paid to Pola along with “future damage.”

The lawsuit is particularly harsh on Kiffin for what it calls intentional actions. Kiffin said he first spoke to Pola on Friday, and then called Fisher on Saturday after Pola called him back, apparently to accept the job.

Kiffin acknowledged in a statement that timing wasn’t perfect.

“I have spoken with Coach Fisher and he now has an accurate understanding of the timeline of events,” Kiffin said. “We realize the timing of this isn’t perfect for all parties, but this is a great opportunity and promotion for Kennedy.”

Fisher told The Tennessean newspaper he was very disappointed in Kiffin’s lack of professionalism. The lawsuit doesn’t hold back in criticizing Kiffin for “furtherance of a culture of violation and avoidance of respect for the sanctity of contract, which Kiffin similarly practices ...” in inducing Pola to breach his contract.

The lawsuit notes Kiffin “abruptly departed” his coaching job at the University of Tennessee in January after just 14 months, which angered Volunteers’ fans. Kiffin also lured four other Tennessee coaches to join him at Southern California, and the lawsuit also notes how Kiffin tried to hire Eric Bienemy away from NFL’s Vikings, forcing Minnesota to redo his contract to keep the assistant.

The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and punitive damages and attorneys fees.

Last updated: 2:16 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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