King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Terrell Owens' reported suicide attempt: His publicist says it was a mix-up, but maybe this will spur him to get the help he needs.

Published September 27, 2006 4:00PM (EDT)

And so what are we to make of the bizarre, contradictory reports Wednesday morning that Terrell Owens tried or did not try to commit suicide?

Owens was rushed to the Baylor Medical Center emergency room in Dallas Tuesday night by Dallas fire and rescue workers. His publicist, Kim Etheredge, insisted that he'd had an allergic reaction to pain medication he has been taking for his broken finger, for which he underwent surgery Sept. 18. The next day, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells mentioned Owens having trouble with his medication.

But a police report obtained and released by WFAA-TV in Dallas characterized the incident as a suicide attempt, with Owens ingesting as many as 35 of the prescription pills.

Late Wednesday morning, the Dallas police held a news conference at which a spokesman, Lt. Rick Watson, said the report obtained by WFAA should not have been released, that Dallas police are not investigating Owens' situation, which they consider a medical, not a criminal matter, and that "this is the official statement."

Watson refused to answer questions and did not specifically say that Owens had not attempted suicide. A Dallas fire and rescue news conference a few minutes later was no more illuminating.

According to the Associated Press, the police report describes Owens telling a friend that he was depressed. The unidentified female friend -- probably Etheredge, who is likely the person who called 911 -- having noticed the empty medication bottle, saw Owens pop two more pills, and she tried to pry the pills out of Owens' mouth with her fingers, the report says.

Owens told the friend he'd only taken five of the 40 pills in the bottle, the police report says, but it also says Owens answered "Yes" when rescue workers asked if he was trying to harm himself.

On ESPNews, Ed Werder reported that Etheredge says that Owens' statement to the rescue workers that he was trying to harm himself "was the result of him not understanding what they were saying because he had an allergic reaction to the medication."

I have to admit my first reaction to the suicide reports was a sort of eye-rolling, "Oh, Terrell." I also know from trolling online message boards that I'm not the only one who had that reaction.

It's not an appropriate response to a suicide attempt, whether it's a "real" one, a desperate bid for attention or even a misunderstanding. Desperate bids for attention and misunderstandings sometimes leave people just as dead as if they'd really meant to kill themselves.

Owens has become a sort of present-day Dennis Rodman. Just as I once suffered from Rodman-news fatigue, I now have a case of T.O. fatigue, and plenty of other people do too. What is it this time? What's he complaining about? Whose driveway is he doing sit-ups in? Why isn't anything his fault, and why should we care?

It's easy to forget that Rodman began the transformation from relatively obscure defensive and rebounding specialist for the Detroit Pistons to Dennis Rodman, outrageous character, with an apparent flirtation with suicide, when he was found sitting in his truck in the Palace of Auburn Hills parking lot with a loaded shotgun. Rodman later said he killed the old Dennis Rodman that day.

Owens, who's a much better football player than Rodman was a basketball player, is not as flamboyant, not as apparently interested in becoming a Hollywood-style celebrity. Rodman's antics always seemed calculated to me, like he was a fairly rational guy who wanted to be famous, outrageous and the center of attention. He wanted to be a rock star.

I wasn't the first to suggest that Owens' behavior has long suggested something different, a guy who desperately needs psychological help. Both of his former teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles, reportedly asked Owens to undergo counseling, which he refused to do.

Maybe he will now. Probably not. Obviously the official spin from the Owens camp is going to be that this was not a suicide attempt but a bad reaction, and just because that's spin doesn't make it not true.

One way or the other, I wish he would get that help. I wish that for purely selfish reasons. I don't want to see a brilliant NFL career spiral into oblivion. I also don't want to find myself rolling my eyes when I hear that a fellow human being has reportedly tried to kill himself.

Update: Owens was released from the hospital late Wednesday morning. He worked out at the Cowboys' afternoon practice and then met the press. He denied that he'd attempted suicide and confirmed Etheredge's explanation that he'd had a reaction to pain medication and was disoriented when he talked to rescue workers. He said he's "not depressed about anything.

Etheredge, who also appeared, angrily denied that she tried to take pills out of Owens' mouth.

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Support your local cut-rate crybabies [PERMALINK]

A new minor-league arena in suburban Denver is trying to woo fans by attacking big-league sports.

"Don't support million-dollar crybabies," an ad for the Broomfield Event Center urges, according to the the Denver Post. The ad, selling tickets to the NBA Development League Colorado 14ers and the Central Hockey League Rocky Mountain Rage, features a crying baby sitting on a pile of money.

"The campaign was designed to highlight our family-friendly pricing in a humorous way," the Post quoted arena general manager Trey Medlock saying. "Our players are in it for the love of the game, not the paycheck."

Oh, players. I thought the ad was referring to major-league sports owners, who are constantly crying about how they can't field a winning team or even stay in town unless the taxpayers pony up to build them a new arena or stadium, with cost overruns paid by the taxpayers and profits going to the owners.

But now that I think of it, that would be "Don't support billion-dollar crybabies."

And I love that business about how minor-league players are "in it for the love of the game, not the paycheck." I can relate. I don't get paid anywhere near what million-dollar crybabies like John Grisham or Stephen King do. Therefore, I'm in this racket for the love of writing, not the paycheck.

Which reminds me: The What the Heck Pick™ of the Week in this column's weekly NFL preview is still up for sponsorship, with a minimum commitment of $1 million.

Don't support million-dollar crybabies!

Previous column: Saints homecoming

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