T.O. insists he can still play in the NFL. USATSI

Terrell Owens has not played an NFL game in seven years, and he says it's because he's just like Colin Kaepernick.

Second on the NFL's all-time list of receiving leaders, the outspoken wideout told TMZ Sports this week that "they know I can play" at age 44. When asked why he hasn't earned a job since 2012, when the Seattle Seahawks released him before the regular season, Owens suggested that he has been blacklisted by league executives like Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

"What's stopping Colin Kaepernick from being in the league?" he said. "Owners, general managers. It's all about an opportunity. That's it. It's the same thing with Colin. You're trying to tell me that he can't play in the league right now? Really? Just saying. But it's politics. It is what it is."

Kaepernick, of course, has been out of the NFL since March after opting out of his 49ers' contract before the team planned to release him. His decision to kneel during pregame national anthems in 2016 to protest social injustice and police brutality sparked a wave of player protests and made him a polarizing figure in the national debate over race relations. The ex-Niners starter never warranted more than a few reported inquiries in 2017, when hundreds of other NFL players followed in his footsteps to peacefully protest social injustice on the field. But unlike Owens, he didn't spend more than a half-decade out of the league before fading from the spotlight, and his notoriety was characterized more by activism than the locker-room feuds of T.O.'s career.

In persistent public pursuit of a return to the NFL since his days with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, Owens also told TMZ that he still runs a 40-yard dash between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds, saying "you've never seen me get caught from behind," but indicated he might also be OK with retirement -- "I appreciate the years that I played, and now, life goes on."

A six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro honoree, Owens began his career with the 49ers, spending eight seasons in San Francisco before tumultuous stops with the Philadelphia Eagles (2004-2005), Dallas Cowboys (2006-2008) and a one-year stint with the Buffalo Bills (2009). He also played part of the 2012 season with Allen Wranglers (now Texas Revolution), an Indoor Football League franchise for which he also became a co-owner.