SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Terrell Owens can't understand why others aren't seeing the humor in his latest innovation in touchdown celebrations -- pulling a pen from his sock to autograph the ball.
Owens, the San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro receiver, seized the spotlight again Monday night in a 28-21 victory over Seattle. After beating cornerback Shawn Springs in the fourth quarter, Owens produced a pen, signed the football and presented it to his financial adviser in the front row.
His move infuriated many of the Seahawks and prompted a national debate. Some saw it as creative and funny; to others, it was a boastful taunt.
''At this point, I'm still baffled by where the disrespect comes in,'' Owens said Wednesday night. ''It wasn't like I made a gesture towards anybody or the team or anything. I just signed the ball and gave it to a friend.
''I felt it was harmless, (and) at the same time, I thought it was funny, being creative. So it has gotten more attention than I really expected.''
Owens won't be fined or suspended by the NFL, league spokesman Greg Aiello said. Owens and coach Steve Mariucci said they hadn't received letters from the league about the incident.
''However, such acts will not be tolerated going forward,'' Aiello said.
Many members of the Seahawks -- not Springs, however -- were angered by Owens' celebration, with Holmgren calling it ''shameful'' and ''a dishonor to anyone who ever played this game.'' More than one Seattle player suggested retaliation might be in order when the teams play at San Francisco on Dec. 1.
''It's eating me up, and I'm not going to forget about it,'' cornerback Willie Williams said Wednesday. ''I can't wait until December. If I get a legal shot, I'm going to take it.''
Owens could only laugh at that notion -- and he thought he knew the real reason behind Holmgren's comments.
''My coach wasn't bothered by it,'' Owens said. ''He thought it was funny, just like a lot of people. I think (Holmgren), being on the losing end of it makes him bitter. It's not like I'm disrespecting the game or I disrespected him. They're going through a tough time where they're 1-4 and they got beat in their home spot. Obviously, he has some issues that he has to deal with.''
The rest of the 49ers (4-1) were taken aback by all the attention being paid to the incident as they prepared for Sunday's game at New Orleans.
''It's really getting blown out of proportion,'' said center Jeremy Newberry, who also vowed to help protect Owens from any cheap shots from the Seahawks. ''Any time T.O. does something, the media wants to make a bigger deal out of T.O.'s actions than anybody else. He didn't sign the ball and give it to Shawn Springs. ... I think people are reading way too much into it.''
For Owens, it's just another chapter in an otherwise outstanding career that's been marked by clashes with his coaches, teammates, opponents and the media -- and several years of outstanding play as one of the NFL's top receivers.
''Things I've done that really have gotten so much nationwide attention were because they were different and I'm different,'' Owens said. ''I think that people who see me do these things, maybe they have something against me or don't like me. Some people can deal with it, and some people can't.''
Creativity in touchdown celebrations is hardly Owens' unique domain, and many NFL players outside Seattle thought it was entertaining.
''Hey, that was cool,'' said Terrell Davis, the Denver Broncos' recently retired running back. ''I don't care what nobody says, man, that was cool. That was all right. That was original. No one else thought about doing that. Only Terrell Owens could do something like that, you know?''
Owens has employed a variety of odd dances and choreographed moves after scoring touchdowns, including his league-high 16 TDs last season.
Owens caused his biggest stir more than two years ago when he celebrated two touchdowns by running to the Dallas Cowboys' star logo at midfield in Texas Stadium, once spiking the ball and once kneeling to pray.
''After you look at what I did (in Dallas), I think a lot of people were for it and a lot of people were against it,'' Owens said. ''But at the same time, it wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't for the media. I think our reaction is based on the media, so I really think it was media-influenced.''
Dallas safety George Teague leveled Owens during the second trip to midfield. Mariucci suspended Owens for one game after the incident, which catalyzed months of bad feelings between the two.
Mariucci and the rest of the 49ers had no problem with Owens' latest self-expression, however. The team won't discipline him, Mariucci said.
''T.O. explained everything to me,'' Mariucci said. ''We had a good talk on the bus (Monday night). We don't even need to talk about it any more.''
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