"This,'' announced Terrell Owens' publicist, "is no big deal.''
Sadly, Owens' apparent, alleged and reported suicide – and we think it important that somebody stress "apparent'' and "alleged'' and "reported'' – is just the latest twist in the turbulent times of the gifted-but-controversial Cowboy.
And this is a very big deal.
Here, some of what must be sorted out by the police, the Cowboys, the doctors, Owens' inner circle, the media, the fans, and most important, Terrell Owens himself:
* The story of the nature of the incident continues to ping-pong back and forth. Initially, Owens' publicist said T.O. was hospitalized late Tuesday because an allergic reaction to pain medicine. Then came a police report that, in some detail, painted a picture of a suicide attempt, complete with Owens himself confirming that he tried to "hurt'' himself and a "female companion'' saying that she tried to pry pills out of Owens' mouth after he'd taken 35 of the 40 pills that had been in the bottle.
By Wednesday morning, however, the woman was starting to recant her story, telling a Cowboys beat writer that there was no suicide attempt, no vomiting and no stomach-pumping.
Let the spin begin?
* Not to get too conspiratorial on you, but as I write this, at 10:44 a.m. Dallas time, the latest lead we get suggests that the Dallas Police Dept. actually has two sets of paperwork: The original suicide paperwork, and a new report with any suggestions of "suicide'' or "overdose'' literally crossed out.
Does T.O. – or Jerry Jones himself – have enough stroke to get the police to alter the rules?
In a word, "yup.''
* And then there is this: The "female companion'' and "Owens' publicist'' now turn out to be the same person. At least that's what publicist Kim Etheridge is saying. Is Kim the woman who called 911? The woman with her fingers in his mouth? And she's the same woman who says today that everything is fine and T.O. is about to be released?
Oh, and when the beat writer told this story, he never mentioned that "the woman'' he spoke to was Etheridge.
Our instincts tell us that something about Etheridge being at all places at all times doesn't seem right. …
* However. … it is completely conceivable that there is a misunderstanding or a miscommunication here. If Owens was "groggy,'' as reported, he might have misunderstood the police questions. Yes, that even applies to a simple query like rescue workers asking "Were you attempting to harm yourself (to which, according to the police report, T.O. answered `Yes."')
* Well before the incident, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells did say that T.O. has a history of adverse reactions to medication. It's possible that the real story is a combination of both extremes. Some depression. Some misunderstanding. Some pain, emotional and physical. Some anger. An ambulance. An overreaction. It's possible.
* So what brings on a suicide attempt? If you want an expert analysis, just ask a reporter! Media types on every radio station, TV station and newspaper in the country have suddenly morphed into Dr. Phil on this one, playing pop psychology while armed only with very few facts about a man they do not know.
But know this: Generally, when one is hospitalized after a true suicide attempt, the hospital is obliged to keep the patient under observation for a period of a day or two.
When Terrell Owens gets released from Baylor – Etheridge insists it will be today -- will tell us more about the true nature of the incident.
* Speaking of pop psychologists: The number of reporters who have come forward claiming to "know'' T.O. or stating that he couldn't be depressed "because he was smiling just the other day'' or claiming they "saw this coming all along'' should undergo some therapy themselves.
A person who is depressed can still smile. A person who is troubled – and it is fair to say that Terrell Owens does qualify – does not necessarily want to kill himself.
Oh, and a person who is depressed – and in the police report, Owens' friend. … er, publicist. … says that how he portrayed himself to her – can still go to work.
* "This is a cry for help. All of T.O.'s behavior is a cry for help.'' That's what some are screaming, and again, save it for the professionals. It is quite conceivable, given Owens' historic behavior, that he's been urged to seek counseling in the past. But beyond that, until we know more, save the "This is a cry for help'' stuff for the Lifetime network, please.
* Owens' family and preacher reportedly arrived in Dallas on Tuesday. That can be taken as a heckuva coincidence, or as a sign that at least they recognize the potential seriousness of the incident.
* Some people consider it callous to discuss what this does to the football team – "this is not the time nor the place to discuss that,'' proclaimed ESPN's Mike Golic – but it is indeed the time. If my widget company's top salesman goes into alcohol rehab, for instance, we've still got to sell our widgets. Don't think for a moment that while Jerry Jones & Co. are doing right by Owens (prayers, hugs, the whole bit) that they aren't also examining the thing from a business angle. That includes, of course, the following three things: 1) making on-field adjustments for his absence; 2) considering ways to get him better and back on the field; 3) examining their contractual options as they relate to Owens' "behavior.''
Sorry if that seems cold. But on the business side of this thing, the Cowboys would be wise to cover every base – and that includes knowing their options regarding behavioral clauses that could allow them to sever the relationship that pays Owens $25 mil over three years. This might be, after all, a "drug overdose'' – as incendiary as that phrase is.
The Cowboys won't say that they will look to exit the relationship. Nor should they say so. But they have to think about it.
* There are suggestions that Owens has harbored some unhappiness with the Cowboys because they didn't "trust'' him in regard to the hamstring thing. My friend, $25 mil is a lot of trust. Money, we suppose, doesn't buy happiness after all.
* When Etheridge suggests that Owens may have "accidentally'' taken the wrong pills – pills he thought were "supplements'' – we must respond the same way we responded to Barry Bonds' claim that he didn't know what he was putting in his body. Owens' body is his business, his life. Same as Bonds. That's like saying you "accidentally'' put diesel fuel in your car. Odd mistake to make.
* Now even the police are backing down. In the Tuesday morning press briefing, Dallas police called it a "medical situation'' and downplayed all other angles. Again, we smell spin. The police report is what it is, and is now available publicly. And "suicide attempt'' and "drug overdose'' could not be any clearer on that paperwork.
At the same time, Owens' right to privacy is a concern as well. So while T.O. is a public figure, we'll try to keep that concept in mind. Meaning, for one thing, no, we're not camping out at T.O.'s condo today. We'll leave that for some other vulture.
* The Cowboys repeatedly said they saw no red flags as they considered signing Owens. That seems ridiculous to say now, sure. But it was ridiculous to say then, too. T.O. represented a behavioral risk. And even if he returns to the field and gets his 12 TDs and his 80 catches and his 1200 yards, he still will represent a behavioral risk.
When Jerry says he's a "risk-taker,'' that's his way of saying he knew what he was getting into by signing Terrell Owens.
Updated T.O. Information
CowboysHQ Top Stories
Cowboys Dez Hairline Fracture: The LatestCowboys receiver Dez Bryant says 'I might' when it comes to playing this weekend, even though the MRI has revealed a hairline fracture of the tibia in his right knee.
CowboysHQYesterday at 12:59 PM
5 FishTips: Cowboys Winning Gameplan Review5 FishTips: The Cowboys Winning Gameplan In Review
CowboysHQYesterday at 4:20 AM
Dez Bryant's MRI + Jerry's Cowboys Q&AOn Dez Bryant's MRI + Jerry Jones' Cowboys Q&A, thanks to the team owner's notable, confusing Tuesday visit with 105.3 The Fan ...
CowboysHQTuesday at 9:29 AM
Cowboys Rooks Shine Behind Battered O-LineCowboys Rookies Shine Behind Battered O-Line; Surgery Possible For La'el Collins
CowboysHQMonday at 4:58 PM