PHOENIX - Terrell Owens had nearly 800,000 reasons to cry over the weekend.
A league source said today that an arbitrator ruled in the Eagles' favor Friday on a grievance that was filed by the NFL players' union on Owens' behalf more than two years ago. The union had disputed the Eagles' move to recover $1.725 million of the $2.3 million signing bonus the team paid the wide receiver when it signed him to a seven-year, $49 million deal in 2004.
The entire saga dates from 2005, when a disgruntled Owens was suspended seven games into the season by coach Andy Reid for "behavior that was disruptive to the team." The Eagles suspended Owens for four games without pay, which cost him $764,704, and later informed him that he should not return for the final five games.
When Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not respond to a letter asking him to return the signing-bonus money, the Eagles withheld the receiver's final five paychecks, which totaled $955,880. When arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in the Eagles' favor on Friday, it meant Owens owed the team an additional $769,120 to complete the $1.725 million signing-bonus repayment.
All totaled, Owens' conduct, which included verbal attacks on quarterback Donovan McNabb and a one-week training-camp suspension, cost him $2.49 million.
Reached by telephone last night, Rosenhaus said he was unaware that a ruling had been made and declined to comment.
Owens, who signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Cowboys after being released by the Eagles in 2006, found out last week that owner Jerry Jones would pay him a $3 million roster bonus, which means he will make $7 million in the final season of his three-year deal.
Before the Eagles played the Cowboys last month in Dallas, Owens said during a conference call, "In my heart, I'm getting the last laugh." He also said, "I think everybody can assess what has gone on since I've left. I've said all the time, the proof is in the pudding."
The Cowboys lost to the Eagles the next Sunday and were eliminated by the New York Giants in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. In Owens' two years with Dallas, the Eagles and Cowboys have each won an NFC East title, but neither has advanced beyond the divisional round. The Eagles have won three of the four meetings against Owens and the Cowboys.
And now the receiver owes them nearly $800,000, which will be credited to the Eagles' salary cap in 2008.