I have come to a realization. I don’t like to watch the Super Bowl game any more.

My first professional football game I watched from start to finish was Super Bowl XXVI, where the Washington Redskins completely destroyed the Buffalo Bills. It was the Super Bowl where Thurman Thomas lost his helmet. From then until Super Bowl XXXIX, I had not missed a game.

I enjoyed the Super Bowl, and not because of parties and stuff like that. I enjoyed it because of the high quality of football you could expect. From Super Bowl XXVII to Super Bowl XXXVIII, I was 10-1 in picking Super Bowl winners before the game, with the one loss coming when Tennessee failed to win the game against St. Louis by 1 yard.

And don’t get me wrong, I like Super Bowl parties — grilling, talking with friends and family and having a good time making fun of the new Super Bowl commercials. But when it comes to the actual game, I don’t like to watch it any more. When I was watching Pittsburgh, and the officials, beat up on Seattle, it was not fun.

That thought did not come to me until the events of Wednesday morning began to unfold with Terrell Owens.

Why is the Super Bowl not fun any more? On the morning of February 6, 2004, the morning of Super Bowl XXXIX between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, I was woken by my phone ringing by my nightstand at 7:07 a.m. It was my sister calling to tell me that my dad had been found in his suburban in the small community of Abbott. After seven months of waiting for the phone call, it had finally come. My dad had committed suicide at the age of 63 in much the same way his grandfather, who had adopted him when he was still a toddler, had done when he was 93.

Now let me say this.

SUICIDE IS WRONG!!!

I do not want anyone to take this column as an endorsement of suicide. Having had to live through two suicides in my family, I can promise you that suicide does not solve anything, it can only make things worse.

But, I think the events from Tuesday night and Wednesday involving Owens revealed a few things about both our society and Owens and the people who are surrounding him.

When the conversation about Owens began to circulate around this office, most of the people had a stance of look at the great sideshow and look at the attention he is getting, or it was Owens is a coward for even considering suicide.

What a load of bull! When a person feels there is no where else to go, and the decision in made their mind, there is not much we, as people concerned for their well-being, can do, a lesson that I still struggle with.

An attempted suicide is a way people seek to get attention, but not because they need to make sure they are in the headlines, but because they are hurting. They need help, support and compassion. They don’t always need to be railed against as being a coward in a cold-hearted manner. There are sometimes tough love is needed yes, and everyone is hurt by a suicide, even a suicide attempt.

Of course, my diatribe on suicide has nothing to do with Owens, who by his own admission, said he was not trying to harm himself. Fine, but I would give Terrell Owens a friendly piece of advice — those people who are advising you, your agents, your publicist — get away from them, now.

Owens, in speaking to the media Wednesday afternoon, came off, from a public relations standpoint, probably the best. His response to the situation was fine.

Until spin control began and what a poor job of it. Kim Etheredge, Owens’ publicist, out of all the junk that came from the press conference said one thing that still sticks me wrong and should with everyone who is a human being. “Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive,” Etheredge said.

We all know what she is talking about, the amount Owens is getting paid to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

Let me tell you something Ms. Etheredge, every person, including my father, had at least one reason he should be alive today, and I can promise you it was not money. Your narrow-minded statement is so ridiculous. We, as human beings — no, as children of the living God, whether you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit or not, we all have a reason to be alive and it is not because we signed a contract worth $25 million.

It is this, why are you here? That is it. Why are you here on this planet, at this time, in this community? And the explanation for that question is life is the search for that answer that we are alive. It is the quest for that knowledge that drives us to live. Some find that answer early in life, while others don’t find until later in life. The sad statement is that some never find it. But no one should ever think that the reason you are here is so that you can die.

If you think that, you are wrong. More people are affected by that decision than by just about any other decision we make in our lifetime.

Suicide is an epidemic that, I believe, competes everyday with victims of AIDS and cancer. But, it is an epidemic that has the greatest chance of being stopped.

Did Terrell Owens attempt suicide? No.

But the attitude taken by some of Owens’ people was one of ignorance and were short-sighted. Maybe they should wonder why no one really takes T.O. and his image seriously. It is because of statements that come from his people like he has 25 million reasons to be alive today.

Suicides can be stopped. Attempted suicides can be stopped. I know why I am here. Do you?

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