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Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens offered advice to younger athletes on the challenges of being a pro athlete in a social media world. (Geof Wheelwright photo for Geekwire)

NEW ORLEANS — Terrell Owens, the former NFL wide receiver known to many fans as T.O., dropped by the Collision media and technology conference this week to offer advice on how professional football players should conduct themselves online and provide his perspective on fitness technology and business.

Tackling social media

Owens caused a stir on Twitter in February when he tweeted about the Pro Football Hall of Fame being “a joke” when he wasn’t voted into it.

Owens talked about the reaction to the tweet and said that he doesn’t regret making it.

“I kind of tell you how it is,” he said. “Whether you like it or not, or whether you like me as a person or not, I think I have always represented myself in the best light and I feel like the way my grandmother raised me, I think she would be proud. If I was such a bad person, I’d probably be in jail by now.”

Owens said that some of his former NFL colleagues are finding out how consequential (and expensive) it can be to make the wrong move on social media. He cited the $10,000 fine levied in January against Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown for an unauthorized Facebook Live postgame video as an example of what a social media mistake can cost.

“I know Antonio Brown personally and so I know he didn’t do anything malicious,” Owens said. “But those are things that if it’s done at the wrong time, it can be very damaging — and then you obviously you have to do some damage control. You just have to police yourself and monitor yourself the best way that you can.”

Moving health solutions down the field

The next team Owens plays for may be one that sells wearable technology that provides consumers with biomedical information. He said he’s getting ready to partner with an unnamed company that is producing “fitness wearable technology that’s similar to an EKG.”

“I know as an athlete and somebody who is trying to gain or lose weight, this device will be able to monitor hydration, related measurements and data,” Owens said. “This is something that’s very interesting to me as a fitness guy.”

He also talked about what it’s like to make the move from professional athlete to health solutions investor. Owens said he is aware that the market is “saturated with so many gimmicks” and that investors have to to be careful.

“That’s where you have to do your due diligence,” he said.

Owen said, as an example, that he was in negotiations with a nutritional supplement company, but wouldn’t commit to any endorsement or investment until he had done his due diligence. “If I’m going to put my name to something, based on my credibility, then it has to be legitimate,” he said.

Proceed with caution

Owens, who had a number of public contract disputes in his career, said he’s learned that he needs to be much more hands-on in managing his own career and the people with whom he’s choosing to work.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve had bad advisors. I’ve had some decent ones. But you have to surround yourself with good people,” he said. “Throughout the course of my career, when I wasn’t this knowledgeable, and I put a lot of trust in the people I hired, those were the ones that burned me. I wasn’t really 100 percent in. I allowed them to take control of the wheel.”

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