OWINGS MILLS -T.J. Houshmandzadeh is known for his swagger, competitiveness and outspoken nature.
Those traits aren’t confined to the football field.
The Baltimore Ravens’ newly-acquired wide receiver made that abundantly clear during his introductory press conference Tuesday after passing his physical and signing his one-year, $855,000 contract.
Did flamboyant Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco’s influence rub off on Houshmandzadeh?
"I rubbed off on him," Houshmandzadeh said. "I’ve always been like this. I’ve always been very competitive and sometimes overly emotional, but that’s just who I am. My kids are like that. I have to calm them down and I wonder, ‘Is that how I look at times?’"
Cut by the Seattle Seahawks new regime led by Pete Carroll one year after signing a five-year, $40 million contract, Houshmandzadeh is embracing his change of scenery.
In the span of a few days, he has gone from a rebuilding franchise that won only five games last year to a team that has legitimate Super Bowl ambitions.
"I’ve been on a lot of losing teams in my career," Houshmandzadeh said. "It’s only five or six teams every year that have a legitimate shot to win a Super Bowl. This is one of the teams, even if I wasn’t here, that had a shot."
Houshmandzadeh, 32, avoided job opportunities with a few other struggling teams, including the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, to sign with Baltimore.
Ultimately, he wanted a chance to win.
"It’s refreshing to go from the situation I was in and to come here," Houshmandzadeh said. "It’s hard to explain because you always want to be optimistic, and I’m an optimistic person at times, it’s hard to be optimistic when you know what you’re going against.
"I know what these guys bring to the table because I’ve played against them. I feel like I’m coming to play with guys that are similar to me emotionally, the way they play the game and how they love the game, and that’s where I need to be."
The Seahawks still owe Houshmandzadeh $7 million in guaranteed money.
They went with a youth movement and dumped Houshmandzadeh even though he caught 79 passes for 911 yards and three touchdowns last season.
He’s intent on proving they made a mistake and implied that he was cut for reasons that didn’t have anything to do with his game
"Me not being there, I can promise you had nothing to do with football, not in my opinion," he said. "Nobody on that team beat me out. If they’re honest with themselves, they know that. If you watch practice, it’s obvious. But for whatever reason, they did what they did. I’m not going to comment on it and get to throwing rocks because I just don’t want to.
"You guys will see what I can do. I’m very confident in myself, and people say I’m probably too confident in myself, but I don’t care because I believe in myself. I kind of got disappointed what happened in Seattle, for real, but I know I can play. I know I can get it done. They know I can get it done. What they did, I don’t really want to comment on because it makes me really upset, but it happened."
Houshmandzadeh has the credentials to back up his bold words.
In nine NFL seasons, Houshmandzadeh has caught 586 passes for 6,693 yards and 40 touchdowns
Over the past five years, he ranks third in the NFL with 451 receptions.
Between Houshmandzadeh and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason, they have a combined six Pro Bowl appearances.
Will there be personality conflicts or jealousy over who gets the football? Is unhappiness brewing in the locker room?
Houshmandzadeh downplayed those suggestions.
"Do I want the ball? Of course, and I’m sure they feel the same way," Houshmandzadeh said. "If you win games it doesn’t matter who gets the glory, who’s getting the ball, because at the end of the day, everybody benefits when you win. I’m sure each of us will play a part in different games of playing the hero, so to speak."
The Ravens plan to play Houshmandzadeh in the season opener against the New York Jets next Monday night, and they’re confident he’ll get acclimated to the offense quickly because of his background in their offensive system.
And they think the physical 6-foot-2, 203-pounder fits in well at all three wide receiver spots.
"You guys have seen him first-hand competing against this defense, never intimidated, highly competitive and productive against this defense, and that says a lot," receivers coach Jim Hostler said. "From an offensive standpoint, those are the kind of players that we want on our side of the ball just like our defense. We want guys that are tough, physical and competitive. All the things that we say we are, T.J. is."