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Terrell Owens: Proceed with caution

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Terrell Owens attempts suicide. That was a headline that I was not expecting to see this morning. It's easy to write about a player, to call out his failings and foibles, that's safe territory to cover. After all, it's only sports. I've done my fair share of analyzing, dissecting and excoriating Terrell Owens; he provides so much material to go on. But when someone is reported to have attempted suicide, the equation changes. Suddenly, nothing seems quite so funny or so care-free.

Queen Elizabeth I once said "I have no desire to make windows into mens' souls". So I won't either, I can't know what's going on inside Terrell Owens. I pass judgment on his actions all the time; in fact, it's become a national past-time. Whether it's his antics on the field or his unpredictability off the field, Owens was fair game for slings and arrows. In this particular case, the wiser course is to proceed with caution, judging the demons that could lead to a suicide attempt should be left to the professionals.

Logic tells me this had a few ways it could've gone. Owens may have had some kind of psychotic reaction to the medication that left him in an impaired state, one where he wasn't fully in control of his actions. Or Owens may have some kind of mental health issue that somehow forced its way to the surface in dramatic fashion. Perhaps something has been happening to him that we just don't know about, and he really was attempting suicide. All of these are possible, and none deserve our scorn.

What the Cowboys do over the next few days should be a good indication of the truth behind what happened. Bill Parcells is a tough man; we often picture him as the stereotype - the cantankerous old-school coach with a vicious sarcastic speech pattern. He can seem cold and distant. But we've seen his human side when he talks about certain players. He really does care about his charges. Parcells and Owens, by all indications, are only beginning to build a relationship. But Parcells has been around Owens almost every day for the last few months. That has to build some kind of bond.

Parcells will take this very seriously and how Owens' situation affects the team will be a secondary consideration, Owens the person will be the primary consideration. If this was a medical issue, a reaction to the medicine, then the concerns about his mental state are greatly lessened. Under a scenario like that, my guess is that Parcells would permit Owens to play in the near future, as long as everyone that counts is in agreement. If there is more to the story, then Owens will need a longer break from football, the most important thing for him would be his own well-being.

Since I'm not a medical professional, I have only questions and no answers. As a journalist, I'll try to cover the story as evenly as I can, without using one man's tragedy as a punch-line or a cheap ratings gimmick. As a Cowboys fan, I have too many emotions to process right now. As a human being, I'm deeply saddened by what has happened. Terrell Owens told us many times in interviews that no matter how he's portrayed publicly, he's a human being, too. Never was it more important than now to understand that sentiment.