I believe Terrell Owens. No matter how noisy this all gets. No matter how loud the voices of publicists and agents and friends and coaches and psychiatric experts and police officers rise in unison into a tower of babble. No matter how many people come to this conversation with their own baggage and their own version of the truth, which isn't the truth at all. And no matter how contradictory and complicated even the voice of T.O. can be much of the time. I believe Terrell Owens.
I've seen too many things a lot less complicated than this get confused and clouded and misdiagnosed when it comes to the very famous Terrell Owens and the spinning swirl that perpetually surrounds him. So on the subject of whether he really tried to kill himself -- Owens adamantly denies it -- I'm siding with the only guy who was inside his head at the time, and I'm doing so even if that head was clouded at the time by too much pain medication.
Maybe that makes me very naive. Or maybe it makes me fair. Maybe it makes me a stupid player apologist. Or maybe it makes me nonjudgmental about the way I cover sports. Either way, we're all a little clouded when it comes to T.O. and his behavior, so I guess it just took too many pills to make him more like the rest of us.
My first reaction to news of a suicide attempt? I didn't believe it. I'm not talking about disbelief or shock. I literally didn't believe it. I believed it was the pills talking. I believe there was some sort of adverse reaction to the medication that made Owens loopy. I've seen people very close to me become something else, something unrecognizable, when chemically altered by the wrong medicine. Owens is many things -- complicated, defiant, stubborn, moody -- but he is not a liar. If he tried to kill himself, I believe he'd tell you. He doesn't do spin control. Doesn't even know how, I believe. He'd avoid an awful lot of his messes if he did.
For all his muscled and psychological armor, he is oddly open about his shortcomings and scars. He admits to being sensitive and wanting to be liked. He admits he has so much trouble showing affection that he just recently got comfortable with telling his mother he loves her. And he cries when talking about his grandmother, whom he appreciates even though he was shackled to his front yard as a child and only escaped when she passed out from the drinking.
He doesn't much care how things look, or dressing up and camouflaging his weaknesses. It isn't right that Steve Mariucci once flew to Atlanta to talk to him and extended a hand as an olive branch, and Owens merely stared at that hand as if it were covered in leprosy. But Owens tells that story, not proudly, about how stubborn and proud he can be even though he knows those who don't like him will take it as reaffirmation that he is a one-dimensional stick-figure cartoon character and that the one-dimensional stick-figure cartoon character is a complete and total jerk and nothing else.