NFL's Terrell Owens Denies Attempting Suicide
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
We turn now to an update on Terrell Owens, the star player with the Dallas Cowboys. He had been rushed to the hospital Tuesday night. A police report said he tried to kill himself with an overdose of pain pills.
Yesterday, Terrell Owens denied that report. NPR's Tom Goldman has more.
TOM GOLDMAN: The match that started a media firestorm was struck yesterday around 9:30 in the morning Eastern Time. A Dallas TV station reported that, according to local police, Terrell Owens was taken to a hospital after attempting suicide.
Not long after the TV report, police Lieutenant Rick Watson held a careful news conference.
Lieutenant RICK WATSON (Dallas Police Department): I'm going to be limited with the amount of information that I can release today, okay, on this incident. And I'm not going to take any questions afterwards. So is everybody ready?
GOLDMAN: The media live in a state of readiness when it comes to Terrell Owens. He is by far the most controversial and publicized player in the NFL, whether it's his spats with quarterbacks and coaches or his on-field antics, like catching a touchdown, pulling a Sharpie out of his socks, signing the ball and then giving it to a fan.
While shocked by the specter of suicide, everybody indeed from CNN to FOX to NPR to ESPN was ready to dive into this story and ferret out whatever they could.
Unidentified Man #1 (Reporter): Clarence(ph), you spend a great deal of time in the Cowboys locker room. Have you at all noticed any change in Terrell's demeanor over the past few weeks?
Unidentified Man #2: No, not at all. I mean...
GOLDMAN: Hard information was scarce, but that didn't stop the sports writers, sports psychologists and football players from taking to the air and trying to unlock the mystery of this man who catches footballs for a living.
As Wednesday wore on there was finally the promise of information in a Bill Parcells press conference. Problem was the Dallas Cowboys' head coach came prepared to talk about football, not the man nicknamed T.O.
Mr. BILL PARCELLS (Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys): I was just on the field here for two hours. I mean I've got to get a chance to sit down and talk with people and find out what the hell is going on here. I don't know.
GOLDMAN: Still, the questions kept coming.
Mr. PARCELLS: Anything else, fellas? This is going to be over real quick.
GOLDMAN: Parcells was true to his word after listening to one last question about Owens.
Mr. PARCELLS: When I find out what the hell is going on, you will know. Until then, I'm not getting interrogated for no reason.
GOLDMAN: It was obvious by then only one person could satisfy the hunger for information. In less than an hour after Parcells walked away from the microphones, a smiling Terrell Owens sat down in the same spot and said he did not try to commit suicide.
Mr. TERRELL OWENS (Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys): The rumor of me taking 35 pills, I think it's absurd. You know, I don't think I would be here if I had taken 35 pills. And, you know, just to dispel rumors that I got my stomach pumped, you know, that's definitely untrue.
GOLDMAN: Owens was joined by his publicist, the woman who called 9-1-1 Tuesday night when Owens became unresponsive. Kim Etheredge said Owens had an allergic reaction to a combination of pain pills for a broken hand and natural supplements. She denied saying Owens was depressed. She denied grabbing pills out of his mouth.
They came to set the record straight, but what Owens and Etheredge said contradicted the Dallas police report and its details of an attempted suicide. The police cannot be reached for comment. But the differing accounts mean the story is still alive, and the headline writers may be prepping for the next round. Maybe T.O. versus the police.
Tom Goldman, NPR News.