After a strange incident Tuesday night led to a police report stating he attempted suicide, followed by Owens denying it the next day and saying he may play this week, the Cowboys come off a bye to try and ruin Vince Young’s first start for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Dallas coach Bill Parcells has yet to announce if he will play Owens, a possibility which appeared completely out of the question earlier this week.
Owens has created quite a stir in his first few months as a Cowboy, but the events of Tuesday and Wednesday have topped everything.
Owens—recovering from a broken right ring finger—was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night after reportedly swallowing 35 pills in an attempt to harm himself, the Dallas police report released Wednesday said.
The enigmatic receiver, though, was released from the hospital Wednesday and held a press conference, denying he tried suicide and saying the confusion likely stemmed from an empty bottle of pain medication found by his publicist. He said the rest of the pills were in a drawer.
Owens said he became groggy after mixing the painkillers with supplements.
“I wasn’t coherent as they probably thought I was,” Owens said. “A number of people were asking me questions. I don’t remember the police officers that were in there or the doctors that were in there.”
Owens’ publicist, Kim Etheredge, was with him at the time and made the 911 call that brought emergency personnel to his house.
“I was non-responsive when she made that call,” said Owens, who has nine catches for 99 yards and a touchdown in his first year with Dallas. “She made the call out of her judgment for my well-being.”
Before the news conference, Owens caught passes from quarterback Drew Bledsoe, and said he was “very capable” of playing against the Titans (0-3).
He denied he was depressed and teammates saw no evidence of that Wednesday.
“He seemed to be in good spirits and looked like he was looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as he could,” Bledsoe said. “I was happy to see him here and happy to see him running around and going. … Obviously, he’s doing fine.”
On Thursday, police confirmed Owens’ story, classifying the case as an “accidental overdose” and closing their investigation into the matter. Police Chief David Kunkle added he had “great confidence” in the initial police report based on what the officers on the scene were told.
Owens’ statement that he might take the field against Tennessee is something of a surprise, as he wasn’t expected to play until Oct. 8, when he was to make his much-anticipated return to Philadelphia to face the Eagles.
If Owens does play, he could overshadow Young’s first NFL start. The Titans took Young with the third pick in the 2006 draft over Matt Leinart and local favorite Jay Cutler because of his potential, and coach Jeff Fisher had promised he wouldn’t start the rookie until he was ready.
Fisher even said on Monday that he would start Kerry Collins, who went 19-of-33 for 269 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday’s 13-10 loss at Miami. However, Collins has thrown six interceptions and only one touchdown pass this season and has a passer rating of 42.3, and the Titans are now hoping Young can help them shake their first 0-3 start for since 2001.
Young does not believe starting a rookie quarterback is a sign the team is giving up on the season, citing Ben Roethlisberger as an example he would like to follow.
“If you have confidence that this rookie guy is going to come in and make plays like Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler or any of those guys, if you believe in those guys, you can win ball games,” Young said.
Young, who led Texas to a national title last year, has completed 10 of 24 passes and thrown for one touchdown in spot duty for the Titans. He did not play against the Dolphins.
The Titans have dropped six straight dating to last season, and if they lose another game, will have their worst start since going 0-10 to begin 1984, when the franchise was based in Houston as the Oilers.
“I’m just kind of sick of losing,” defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said. “People say, ‘You’re only 0-3.’ No. You look at the last time we won a game last year. I don’t honestly remember. Is it seven or eight? Something crazy. It’s just too long. We just need to get back on track.”
Tennessee ranks 24th in the NFL in total offense and 29th in total defense. The team has a minus-5 turnover margin, second-worst in the NFL.
The Cowboys (1-1) defeated Washington 27-10 on Sept. 17 before enjoying their bye week. Bledsoe silenced some of his critics with a strong performance against the Redskins, throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he didn’t throw an interception after being picked off three times in a 24-17 loss to Jacksonville in the opener.
With everything that’s happened this week, Dallas will have to avoid looking past the winless Titans.
“I wouldn’t know why it would be hard to get our team focused. We haven’t done anything,” Parcells said. “I looked at their team; they had played two close games out of three. They were beaten badly by San Diego but they played two close games out of three. We’re playing them on the road. I think it will be a tough game for us—I do.”
The Titans have won four of the last six meetings with the Cowboys, though the clubs haven’t met since Sept. 15, 2002, when Dallas won 21-13.
Tennessee won 31-0 in 2000 in the last meeting at Nashville.