Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Troubles of T.O.

The continuing saga of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens has taken a weird turn this week. If you aren't familiar with all the details of what has happened recently, you can catch up here. It seems that on Tuesday night, T.O. took too many painkillers that he had been given to help with his broken hand. Whether he did so intentionally or by accident is what the debate is about.

Terrell insists that it was an accident, but the police report seems to indicate that it was a suicide attempt. I can't really say whether it was intentional or not. I don't know the man, nor all the circumstances surrounding the event. But I can say that I would not be surprised at all if Owens had, in fact, tried to take his own life.

Why would I say something like that? Even if you've only been a casual observer of the NFL in recent years, you know that Terrell Owens has been the most talked about player in the league. From his clash with teammates and coaches in San Francisco to his short and full-of-controversy run to the Super Bowl in Philadelphia, T.O. made headlines all the time. Why? Because he is a tremendous talent and arguably the best wide receiver in football. And now with his off-season signing with the Cowboys, the intensity has increased. Because he is so good, people care what is going on with him. And because people pay attention, he milks it for all its worth.

Like a five-year old that acts up to get attention from a distracted parent, Owens continues to do the out-of-the-ordinary in order to keep the attention of the media and the public. His stunts have become legendary -- self-adulation on the Dallas Cowboys star, pulling the Sharpie out of his sock on Monday Night Football, grabbing the pom poms from a cheerleader, doing shirtless sit-ups during a press conference at his home, and on and on.

When T.O. pulls one of his stunts, many football fans see a selfish, self-absorbed millionaire athlete that demonstrates the worst of professional athletics. What I see is a scared little boy that was raised by a harsh grandmother that would hardly let him out of the house and a little kid that was made fun of by classmates because of his dark skin. His antics are a cry for attention, affirmation and love. The only reason anybody cares is because he catches passes and scores touchdowns.

The great tragedy is that there are millions of little "T.O.'s" growing up in America today that are not getting the affection that a child needs. For those that aren't able to run a 4.3 40 or dunk a basketball, there is no one to help in their development. So they look to a gang or to multiple sexual partners or to working for some local hood slingin' rock (that's drug dealing, for the uneducated). If what happened with Terrell was genuinely a suicide attempt, it wasn't really that. It was a cry for help. He just wants to be loved. To put it bluntly, the man needs Jesus. I know that he has a friendship with Deion Sanders, who became a Christian several years ago himself. Hopefully, Deion (or someone else) will share the hope and love that is found in Christ.

His publicist, Kim Etheredge, had this brilliant take on why he couldn't have attempted to take his life:

"Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive," Etheredge said."
She was alluding to his contract with the Cowboys. As any intelligent person knows, money does not buy happiness nor does it give us a reason to live. I hope Terrell will learn that soon.

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