For the last seven seasons Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens and New England cornerback Shawn Springs have squared off twice a year playing in the same division. First it was the NFC West when Owens played for San Francisco and Springs for Seattle. Both moved to the NFC East in 2004 with Owens playing for both Philadelphia and Dallas the past five years while Springs suited up for Washington. That twice-a-season matchup will resume Monday night as both players crossed over to the AFC East for 2009.
It's to the point now where Owens is wondering if Springs is following him around the league. The veteran cornerback signed with the Patriots just four days after Owens inked his one-year deal with Buffalo this past spring. Not that Owens is letting it affect him.
"Hey, I'm here no matter what," said Owens. "I've had some history with Shawn. I'm not going to go into it, but you can check the stats."
Both Springs and Owens have had their days against each other over the course of the nine games in which they've gone head-to-head the past seven seasons. But Owens appears to have gotten the better of Springs in the more recent matchups the past two years.
In their last four meetings Owens has averaged almost seven receptions, just under 90 yards receiving (89.5) and better than a touchdown per game (1.5).
His biggest day came in 2007 when Owens posted eight catches for 173 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-23 Dallas win over Washington. Still he has respect for the Patriots new veteran cornerback.
"Shawn's a great cornerback," said Owens. "We've had some great matchups. He's a physical guy. He presents a challenge."
New England head coach Bill Belichick would not say if Buffalo's free agent signing of Owens was a factor in them pursuing and signing Springs less than a week later, but made it clear he believes the 34-year old cornerback still has a lot of football left in him.
"We signed Shawn because we felt like he would help our football team defensively with his leadership, his versatility and his playmaking ability," said Belichick. "Whatever team we play against and whatever the situation is we want to be able to utilize him in some way and it can certainly be different from week to week depending on the circumstances.
"He can play man-to-man coverage, he can play zone coverage and he can play in the run game. We want to use him to help us be a better defensive football team."
The two veterans figure to be under the spotlight for a good portion of Monday night's opener, and Owens is confident that the fans will get nothing but the best from both of them.
"Every time we come up against each other, it's very very competitive," Owens said. "So I expect nothing less from Shawn, and I'm sure he expects the same from me."
Springs is one of 17 active players with 30 or more interceptions in his career with 32 to his credit. But Owens, who ranks second all-time on Monday night with 19 touchdowns, is confident he'll have the upper hand based on his recent success against one of his most familiar adversaries.
"I intend to continue that," said Owens. "So I'm looking forward to the opportunity."