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Terrell Owens claims he was joking when calling Patriots ‘cheaters’ (vid)

Terrell Owens sought to clarify remarks this week that caused quite a stir when he called the New England Patriots “cheaters.” It turns out, according to T.O., that it was all a joke and no offense was intended.

Footage surfaced Tuesday of Owens playing some pickup basketball with former NBA star Sam Cassell in which he dropped some anti-Patriots smack talk.

“You sound like the Patriots. You know what I mean? I don’t care about the Patriots. Belichick, Brady — they cheaters. They cheated. They cheated,” Owens said, via TMZ.

Owens later told a TMZ camera crew the conversation started over whether Joe Montana or Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time. Owens claims he was simply razzing Cassell over being a Patriots backer.

“I said tongue-in-cheek that they’re cheaters,” Owens said of the Patriots in the video. “It’s not anything that hasn’t been discussed. But it was just a friendly conversation that was tongue-in-cheek. But obviously they saw the clip and thought I was for real about it.”

Owens, who also acknowledges Brady is the G.O.A.T., went on to compliment the Patriots, saying “you can’t take anything away from what they’ve done.”

Owens obviously loves the limelight and presumably is eating up all the attention garnered by his on-court trash talk. The fact that he’s backtracking now is not a surprise. It’s just another day in the life of T.O., who also is angling at resurrecting his pro football career in Canada in the midst of his controversial Pro Football Hall of Fame snub ahead of his enshrinement.