DALLAS — Flamboyant Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens flashed a thumbs-up as he left a hospital Wednesday, hours after the release of a police report saying he tried to kill himself by overdosing on pain medication.
A confusing series of events swirled around T.O. with few answers.
Police and fire officials held news conferences to say they couldn’t talk because of privacy issues. Owens planned to talk publicly at team headquarters later Wednesday afternoon, and the Cowboys went about their business without their No. 1 receiver for now.
Former Cowboys star Deion Sanders said he talked to Owens and the receiver “laughed at that notion” of it being a suicide attempt. He added that Owens was in good spirits.
“It was a case that medication that was taken wasn’t accepted well in his system with the other vitamins he’s on,” Sanders told the NFL Network, where he works as an analyst.
The series of events began a little before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Owens’ publicist, Kim Etheredge, said she was at Owens’ home when he took pain medicine for his broken right hand. Concerned by how he began acting, Etheredge said in various interviews Wednesday with Dallas-area media that she called 911. Owens was taken to a hospital, with Etheredge saying it was an allergic reaction to the medicine.
But early Wednesday, several media outlets received a police report — that had yet to be released by the authorities — saying Owens had attempted suicide by overdosing on the painkillers, even putting two more pills into his mouth after an unidentified friend intervened.
The police document, first reported by WFAA-TV, said Owens was asked by rescue workers “if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time (he) stated, ‘Yes.”’
When officially released by police, about half the document was blacked out, including the phrases “attempting suicide by prescription pain medication” and “a drug overdose,” as well as the details of Owens having two pills pried from his mouth and Owens saying “Yes” when asked if he intended to harm himself.
Etheredge, who said she was the friend cited in the police document, told Dallas-area media Wednesday that the police got the story wrong.
The tape of the 911 call could help clear things up. The Associated Press filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to get its contents, but fire department officials said it would not be available before late Wednesday.
Etheredge did not immediately respond to repeated calls and e-mails from The Associated Press. She, Sanders and agent Drew Rosenhaus were with Owens at his home and presumably would be joining him at team headquarters.
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells was scheduled to hold his daily news briefing at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Police Lt. Rick Watson said during a brief news conference that he could only confirm paramedics called police to say they were taking Owens to the hospital. He said no more details would come from the police because no laws were broken.
“This is a high-profile person. We looked into it, and we determined it is not a criminal offense,” Watson said. “This a medical type of situation that occurred.”
At the police news conference, Watson released the version of the police narrative with certain sections blacked out. The full report was obtained by several news outlets and reported first by WFAA. The AP received the full version from WFAA.
The friend, who is not identified in the report but whom Etheredge later said is her, “noticed that (his) prescription pain medication was empty and observed (Owens) putting two pills in his mouth,” the police report said. The friend attempted to pry them out with her fingers.
The report also said the friend told rescue workers that a prescription for 40 pills was filled on Sept. 18, and that Owens “had only taken five pills up to this date.”
According to the police report, Dallas Fire and Rescue was called Tuesday evening regarding someone “attempting suicide by prescription pain medication.” Officers arrived to find Owens being stabilized by ambulance workers, who then took him to Baylor University Medical Center, where the police report said he was treated “for a drug overdose.”
Owens, one of the league’s top receivers during his 11-year NFL career, is best known for wild stunts on the field and other publicity-seeking antics off it.
When the Cowboys signed him to a $25 million, three-year deal in March, they said their background checks indicated no red flags. In fact, team consultant Calvin Hill — who mostly deals with troubled players — said during training camp that his department was not involved with Owens because he didn’t have a history of those kinds of problems.
He missed most of training camp, and three of four preseason games, because of a hamstring injury. He was late for work during his recovery and was fined for it, but Owens laughed it off, saying he overslept. He said it had happened before, though not with Dallas, and would probably happen again.
Owens broke the bone leading to his right ring finger during a game a week ago Sunday. The next day, doctors screwed in a plate so the bone could heal without fear of further damage. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said last week that the pain medicine made Owens ill.
Owens had not practiced since the injury, but because Dallas had a bye this past weekend he did not miss a game. He was expected to practice Wednesday, and Parcells had said there was a chance Owens could play Sunday against Tennessee.
Owens had been especially looking forward to the Cowboys’ game after that — Oct. 8, in Philadelphia, against the team that dumped him midway through last season only months after he helped them nearly win the Super Bowl.
Owens was seen laughing and joking on the practice field Tuesday morning. He chatted briefly with reporters in the locker room in the afternoon and seemed fine. A 2-inch scar on the top of his hand was puffy but not wrapped, and he said the swelling was going down.
While in the locker room, he took a pill from a white paper bag and looked at another medicine bottle that was in the bag. He also called a business partner about a towel-wrap venture they’re starting and joked to TV cameras that he wasn’t talking until Wednesday and today was only Tuesday.
“My little boy knows better than that,” he said, laughing, as he plopped onto a sofa in the middle of the locker room.
Also Tuesday, Owens was involved in launching a national campaign for the National Alliance to End Abuse, an organization aimed at helping at-risk youngsters. He appeared at a high school Tuesday morning and was scheduled to visit others but had to cancel because of changes in the team’s practice schedule.
Owens has played two games for the Cowboys, catching nine passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Owens, already a top receiver with the San Francisco 49ers, burst to prominence in 2000 for his celebration of two touchdowns on the star logo at midfield of Texas Stadium in a game against the Cowboys. A Dallas player blind-sided him after the second one.
The legend of T.O. grew when he celebrated another touchdown by pulling a Sharpie from his sock and autographing the ball in a 49ers game at Seattle. He’s also borrowed a cheerleader’s pompoms, done sit-ups on his driveway before TV cameras and mocked Ravens tough guy Ray Lewis’ celebration in a game against Baltimore.
Before a Monday night game against Dallas last season, Owens took part in a risque promotional stunt with one of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” that later prompted an apology from the network.
Owens was heavily praised while with the Eagles for playing well in the February 2005 Super Bowl, seven weeks after ankle surgery. However, his relationship with quarterback Donovan McNabb deteriorated soon after and the organization suspended him in midseason and later got rid of him amid contract complaints and other personality squabbles. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie said later that, even with the Super Bowl trip, he regretted having ever signed Owens.