It will come as a huge relief to you that Terrell Owens is feeling great and looks back on his days in Philadelphia only to note that he's having "the last laugh."

And here you thought the Dallas Cowboys' 12-1 record and NFC East title couldn't be any more galling for Eagles fans.

Meanwhile, the victim of Owens' drive-by character assassination two years ago sits behind a microphone and tries to explain how he became the franchise quarterback of a 5-8 team.

"I haven't been a part of anything like this," Donovan McNabb said yesterday, "even in my rookie year when we were losing games by three or four. . . . We were able to overcome that. This isn't that type of team."

A few moments later, McNabb cryptically added, "This isn't the same team, and it's not the same players. In this new age of players who are coming into this league, guys are coming in their rookie year and making an impact. . . . That's why it's really frustrating for a lot of us, because the times are changed and things are different."

Deep in the Heart of Darkness - er, make that Texas - Owens doesn't have to torture language and logic to explain the reversal of fortune between these rivals. Wherever he goes, touchdowns and victories follow.

"I'm still the same person," Owens said, as if that were a good thing.

Then: "I know there are some things that I probably could have done differently, but overall I'm pleased with where I am. Everything happens for a reason. I feel like I got the better end of the deal. You guys are smart. You can assess what happened when I was there and when I was not there. I'm fine."

Yes, it is safe to say Owens got the better of the deal. He was signed by the Eagles with great fanfare in 2004. He lived up to that fanfare, and then some, in an unforgettable season. It seems like a distant memory, but McNabb and Owens worked together beautifully, the Eagles reached the Super Bowl, and then all hell broke loose.

There's no sense rehashing all the particulars now. The belief here was and remains that Owens attacked McNabb for nothing but the most selfish and mean-spirited reasons. The fact that he found himself in a good situation with the Cowboys doesn't change that. If winning at all costs made you a good person, then Bill Belichick would be the best-loved man in the NFL right now.

What is undeniable, and painful for Eagles fans, is that Owens is an integral part of a stunning renaissance in the Dallas Metroplex. Last year, the Eagles went into Texas Stadium and beat the Cowboys to steal the division title. This weekend, they go to Irving with their whipped tails between their legs. The Cowboys, who already clinched the division, have a chance to extinguish the Eagles' final playoff hopes Sunday.

"We'll give it up for a year here," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of the division crown. "We're going to keep battling here and keep working for some other things."

The Eagles, who haven't won more than two games in a row all season, have to win their final three to avoid a losing record. The Cowboys are 12-1, with their only loss coming to unbeaten New England, and are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Here's another little irony for you. Reid dominated the NFC East for most of this decade, winning five of six division titles. To unseat him, rivals hired legendary coaches such as Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs, plus accomplished name coaches such as Tom Coughlin and Steve Spurrier. None of them could get past Reid.

In February, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones accepted Parcells' resignation and hired the affable but hardly imposing Wade Phillips as his replacement. Phillips had been a head coach in four other cities, twice on a brief interim basis. He never won more than 11 regular-season games at Denver or Buffalo. He never won a playoff game in three tries.

It certainly looked from the outside as if Jones had hired a coach who wouldn't challenge the owner's authority, a retread more likely to be the new Dave Campo than the new Jimmy Johnson.

So who had the breakthrough, division-seizing season?

Wade Phillips, of course. The former Eagles assistant already has more wins this season than he ever had with the Broncos or Bills.

One of the things Phillips has done right is to pay attention to Owens on the field while ignoring him off the field. Watch a Cowboys game and Phillips is smiling and pumping his fists on the sideline. He looks like he's having the time of his life.

Just like Terrell Owens. Just so you know.

Phil Sheridan |

Eagles at Cowboys

Sunday at 4:15 p.m.

TV/Radio: Fox29;

WYSP-FM (94.1)

Line: Dallas by 101/2

The Eagles' special teams have been as bad aesthetically as statistically. D5.

Westbrook is expecting a Pro Bowl spot this year. D5.

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