TO Needs a TO
OK, let's talk about this Terrell Owens suicide thing. . . Deadspin wrapped up today's TO Circus with an excellent post today that asked the real Kim Etheredge to please stand up. Essentially, it asks who is lying: the friend and colleague who called 911 terrified that Owens was trying to kill himself or the PR assassin who denied everything and returned to the "reaction to medication" story when the camera lights are on.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything - or even one damn thing - but when I look at it in that light, I can't see any possibility other than that Owens actually tried to kill himself. At the minimum, he was extremely convincing to someone who must know him, his antics, and his moods - and how to spin them - extremely well.
Suicide is a scary topic. Most people have probably been touched by it in some way - either knowing someone who killed themselves - or tried to - or because they have had their own feelings of wanting to escape (by a show of hands, how many of you have been feeling bad enough about your life that you've considered driving off the side of the road - the feeling of knowing you could do it and there would be no going back . . . for the record, my hand is raised). And people look at athletes now and think they have it all - money, fame, freakish athletic talent - and wish they could have just a sliver of that life. How much better would that be than the job that doesn't pay you what you deserve, the house you can't really afford? Owens has all that and he's unhappy? Bullshit.
Well, the fact is, depression and suicidal thoughts have nothing with money or fame or freakish athletic talents. I mean, sure, TO could have not been such a huge dick all these years (I'm an Eagles fan, FYI), but it can't be easy having everyone hate your guts. It is socially acceptable to say TO is a selfish athlete who represents everything that is wrong with sports today. Even if it's true - they say suicide is a selfish act - Is that easy to hear about yourself? Blasted on ESPN and ESPN 2, ESPN Radio, ESPN Mobile, and ESPN The Magazine (and the Ocho). Knowing ESPN it's probably even in the small print on the back of the ESPN credit card (man those fuckers are getting annoying with their cross-promoting aren't they?).
So even though suicide is a sensitive and even painful topic, let's be honest . . . there are ways in which you can kill yourself without a doubt, and ways you can try to kill yourself. People who want to be dead jump off bridges, hang themselves, or put bullets in their brains. People who want attention - and maybe are willing to die to get it - take lots of pills.
There. I said it. I think - once again - TO is trying to get attention. I may come across as a cynic (in this post and in real life) but generally speaking, I think I'm a pretty positive person. I don't think that TO staged a suicide attempt to get attention. But I do think getting attention was the goal, not dying. Some may say he loves himself too much to kill himself. I don't think that's quite it. I think he feels pretty good about himself, but it seems pretty clear to me that he needs a lot of people agreeing with him before he'll really believe it.
I'm not going to get to hung up on specifics - just going on recollection here - but when did it start? In San Francisco, Owens wanted to prove he was no one's bitch, not even the greatest receiver of all time and future Dancing with the Stars celebrity - Jerry Rice - was better than him. Then after he practically ran the San Francisco treat out of town - with his talent, to be fair - any ball not thrown to him was a problem. He was a great player then and you gameplan around your superstars. He had 20 catches in a game - 20! But that wasn't enough validation for him either. He wants out of San Fran so he argues with his coach in front of the cameras and calls his QB gay (Pick your joke here . . . A) hey, he was bound to be right one of the times he opened his mouth or B) Takes one to know one). He openly lobbies for a trade to the Eagles (as do various Eagles players - McNabb included . . . think he regrets that?) and when he gets traded to Baltimore he cries foul claiming contract irregularities. Frankly, he's lucky that Ray Lewis' entourage didn't stab him over that ordeal. That opens the doors for a trade to Philly where everything is right with the world, right?
Honestly, it seemed so. He was amazing that first season until he got hurt. Then the Eagles kept winning and when Owens came back for the Super Bowl, he was amazing again (I'm not prepared to go into the whole "what was up with McNabb?" thing here). And to this point TO's antics to this point were garden variety pompous athlete stuff. Yeah, he was bad, but he wasn't any worse that anyone else.
Enter Drew Rosenhaus.
I'm not going to go all Bryant Gumble on yo' ass but I will admit that NFL contracts heavily favor the team/owners. Players are expected to honor their contracts while teams routinely cut players before having to pay them on their back-ended deals. Truth be told, I sometimes find myself conflicted when players (like Dieon Branch) hold out for more money, and I am definitely more sympathetic to those who have attained superstar status while earning the league minimum or close to it (like Branch).
But Owens had just got his big contract the year before and now it wasn't big enough. Why? Drew Rosenhaus.
Listen, I loved Jerry Maguire so I'm not going to sit here and say all sports agents are scum. I mean, crazy Tom Cruise was Rod Tidwell's Ambassador of Kwan even if he was just pretending. But even excusing Rosenhaus of his reputation, the whole situation stunk from the minute he arrived on the scene.
Here's the problem: Rosenhaus didn't get paid a dime on the contract Owens already had.
So Rosenhaus arrives and TO wants a new contract. And he says horrible things about his quarterback and nice things about Brett Farve (you'd think Favre would have given TO pointers on the whole abusing painkillers thing). And he kicks and screams and acts like an ass - no longer a garden variety ass - until he gets himself kicked out of Philly. Interesting strategy.
Rosenhaus still hasn't been paid at this point.
So TO goes to the Cowboys. Now Rosenhaus has been paid. Mission accomplished right?
Well, Bill Parcells is a lot of things but one this he isn't is dumb. He doesn't want TO so when the owner trumps him, I'm sure he resolved to stay the hell out of it. Conventional wisdom was that TO would have something to prove (didn't he always) and he would blow up and be a dominant force he was in preceding years but time 10 because he had been disrespected.
Instead he's injured all preseason. He's not the first vet to spend preseason on the bike to avoid two-a-days in August so we can give him a pass on that. But when it comes time to play, TO looks so good he makes Drew Bledsoe look good (until he demonstrates his inability to throw to the sideline and is picked off on the same throw for about the 2000th time). Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you cheer for), he breaks his finger in the process.
Did Owens tried to kill himself because he broke his finger? Seems unlikely.
Did he try to kill himself because he's eclipsing Barry Bonds as the most hated man in sports? Seems more likely.
And who's fault is that. TO is a selfish, me-first asshole, so he certainly must be held accountable for that. But Drew Rosenhaus . . . he did what few defensive backs have been able to do over the past decade - he shutdown Terrell Owens - all for the love of money.
What an asshole.