T.O. Gets Redacted

T.O. Gets Redacted

So it appears I was inadvertently timely in my recent post that touched on men’s aversion to seeking help with their psyche and on the NFL’s attempts to “tackle mental health.” If you haven’t heard the news, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens tried to kill himself yesterday. Or at least he did according to the unedited police report. The subsequent, “redacted” police report—I love the word “redacted,” by the way—made no mention of the following exchange between T.O. and one of the cops or paramedics who took him to the hospital.

During an interview of the comp [Owens], comp was asked if he had taken the remainder of the prescription, at which time the comp stated, “Yes.” On further interview of comp, comp was asked if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time the comp stated, “Yes.”

Owens has since told the press that he wasn’t trying to hurt himself, which could be true but sounds, well, untrue. Who knows, but if you know even the least bit about Owens’ public troubles, it seems likely that he might have some serious private troubles as well.

It’s also possible, I suppose, that it’s true what he said in his press conference, that “I took a couple of pain pills ? I think after that I was kind of groggy, and took some extra pills with my supplements,” and that his publicist only decided to call 9-1-1 because he’d taken his pain pills out of the bottle and put them somewhere else and she mistakenly thought he’d taken all his pills, and he was too groggy to answer her questions coherently, etc., etc.

What becomes apparent, when you read about an incident like this, is how simplistically many people understand depression. What do you say, for instance, in response to his publicist’s comment, at the press conference, that he couldn’t have been trying to commit suicide because “Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive”? Right, because rich people never kill themselves. Or take this, for instance, from a fantasy sports website:

?for what it’s worth Owens seemed his usual self during the short press conference. His early release from hospital would seem to back up his account, as the observation period for attempted suicides is longer than a simple overnight stay.

Of course, because depressed people always look depressed all the time, and because hospitals wouldn’t over-rule their observation policies if, for instance, they were pressured to do so by an extremely wealthy, famous man who plays football for one of the most storied teams in NFL history in a state, Texas, that loves it some football.

C’mon. And Eddie Murphy picked up that transsexual prostitute on a LA streetcorner because he’s a nice guy and believes in helping a lady out (I don’t know why that example occurred to me, but I assume it has something to do with the even heavier burden that black men carry around with them to appear strong, straight, tough).

I don’t know if T.O. tried to kill himself, but it sure looks like he did, and his $25,000,000 contract has to do with that only insofar as it’s a part of the difficult life that he’s living. Not exceptionally difficult because he’s rich and famous, just difficult because life is tough, and if you suffer from depression, or are troubled in whatever way, then it’s even tougher, and the money you make and the fame you attain can help or hurt or be irrelevant. I hope that in his case it helps —because he can afford a lot of really good therapy—but it seems as if he’s denying the whole thing, which doesn’t sound so promising for his mental health-tackling prospects.

The irony, for someone like T.O., who has such a bad boy rep to live down, is that admitting to a suicide attempt would probably elicit a lot of sympathy from the public. Then again, if he had an easier time being vulnerable, he wouldn’t be such a bad boy in the first place, so it’s kind of a moot point.

One final note: I don’t know a lot about T.O.—other than that he really, really pisses off white people—but he is one hella charismatic guy. I was watching that five minute video of his press conference, and he’s up there probably lying his ass off about what happened, and I just kept thinking how much I’d like to be friends with him.

Author: Masculinity and Its Discontents

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