Thinking Biblically about Terrell Owens

27 09 2006


NFL Pro-Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens (T.O.) has reportedly attempted suicide. Reports also indicate that the flamboyant Dallas Cowboys star recently confided in friends that he was depressed. The depression had apparently come to a head late Tuesday as Owens reportedly intentionally overdosed on his pain medicine.

As I read the reports and heard the ESPN guys trying to make sense of this scenario they kept on asking why? Why would T.O. attempt suicide? What would push him to such extremes? After all, this is the guy who is arguably the most dominant man on the planet at his position, the man who has an extraordinary physique, unlimited potential, a $25 million contract, numerous promotional deals and the ear of all of the media every time he speaks. Why is he so behaving so ‘irrationally’?

From a biblical perspective T.O.’s actions (if they are confimed as true) are not surprising. They are extremely sad, but not surprising.

Biblically we understand sin to be rebellion from God. At the very core of this rebellion is the struggle for sovereignty. In sin we reject God’s sovereignty and seek our own. What ensues is a life of manipulation, or trying to orchestrate and control life’s circumstances. This shameless self-promotion often tears down others while trying to promote self. This is why we as sinners lie, cheat, slander, yell at people, boast in ourselves and our great exploits, tear down others and their accomplishments, and blame others for everything. Manipulation is a constant realization of a lack of sovereignty and the attempt to gain it, at the expense of anyone or anything else.

And really when you look at T.O.’s career in the NFL you see a steady string of manipulation. This is consistently seen whether he is publically calling former 49’er quarterback Jeff Garcia gay, shouting down Eagles coach Andy Reid, signing a football with a sharpie after a touchdown, mocking Ray Lewis during a game, blaming the Super Bowl loss on Donovan McNabb, or recently blaming his injuries on the coaches for ‘over using him’. This most recent action is really no different. Suicide is a futile and sad attempt of hopelessness in effort to ultimately control his circumstances.

T.O. has no financial needs, his life is freely promoted by ESPN, he has the opportunity to play a game for his job and yet he is not happy. The diagnosis for his actions is not irrationality but depravity. T.O. is attempting to control everything around him and find satisfaction in fleeting things. These things only create more thirst and his lack of control creates a greater realization of his own lack of control and in turn…a greater need for it. Suicide ultimately squelches the desire for satisfaction and, in a morbidly bizarre way, attempts to declare final sovereignty.

Situations such as this should cause Christians to thank God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ for his immeasurable grace. For it is only in Christ, who redeems sinners from their pursuit of self-worship, self-sovereignty and self-dependence while proclaiming his worship, his sovereignty, and our dependence upon him.

The logical end of depending upon ourselves is death. For when we understand, I mean we really understand that we have no power to either keep up with or satisfy our lusts we then we really understand that we are hopeless and futile. The logical end of self dependence is indeed death.

Conversely, the gracious end of Christ dependence is life!! For when, by grace, we understand the above truth and see Christ as sufficient to give us life, remove our guilt from sin, satisfy our affections and rule our lives then we have hope and strength! The gracious end of Christ dependence is life!

When you read of T.O. be grieved for him, even pray for him, but do not miss this opportunity to exalt in the grace of God through Jesus Christ while growing more impressed with Jesus.





16 responses

27 09 2006 » Blog Archive » T. O. Attempts Suicide

[…] UPDATE: The IrishCalvinist also offers some thoughts on T. O. (HT: JT) […]

27 09 2006
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27 09 2006
Alex Chediak

Extremely well said.

27 09 2006
Alex Jordan Harris

Bravo. Excellent thoughts.

27 09 2006

I appreciated your post. It is not always obvious what peoples motives are, but to say tha T.O. actions were driven by manipulation in his attempt to conrol circumstances(and other people, Perhaps) was very truth-bearing. For that reason alone you may receive a lot of grieve over your thoughts. It is very hard to hear the truth, and even harder to express it with love, especialy in this medium of the blogosphere. Thank you for your words.

27 09 2006

Great post. I appreciate your mature, careful, biblically faithful discussion. There are very few decent blogs in the world. I am glad to stumble onto yours.

27 09 2006
Mark Smith

I too appreciate your post very much. Thanks for the careful, biblical thoughts.

27 09 2006

Great post. I agree with your observations concerning the question of “why?” Sin is a very sad and hard predicament to be in. It can not be overcome by anyone outside of salvation through Jesus Christ. The sinful heart is always striving to fullfill its own desires. If it is confirmed that T.O. did indeed attempt to take his life, it would affirm that his ego was so intent on getting attention that he would go to this extreme in order to get more attention. A very sad condition of a sinful heart.

28 09 2006

very different view from what ESPN feeds us all day

28 09 2006

What a coincidence (or perhaps I should say that it was no coincidence at all… but predestined…j/k), I also am Irish… and a Calvinist. Stumbled upon your blog this morning. I’m going to link you and become a regular visitor. My wife and her family are from Omaha. How long have you been in the area???

28 09 2006

Dillon- good to hear from you. small world ‘eh? I have been in Omaha for just about 12 years. I’m originally from MA but dig the midwest…our church family is great, ministry is awesome and people are growing…what more could you want?! good to meet you…cool pics on your site. take care man.


28 09 2006

TO is like Saul, or far more like Samson, gifted in many ways, but unable to see past his own blessings to actually appreciate them. Instead he becomes so self absorbed in the world he has inherited based on his inhuman skill, that he unable to cope with the most mundane things. CS Lewis said in Mere Christianity that we have to die to our selves every day, I don’t think Owens has been able to do that for a long time, and in the end it will catch up to him. Check out my blog at, , hopefully nothing too self-absorbed though.


28 09 2006

Hasn’t Owens claimed to be Christian ?(of course not that that means anything)

I think he made some references to God before the Super Bowl when he was hurt. I believe (someone correct me if they know otherwise) he credited God with his recovery.

29 09 2006

We need to talk less about T.O. and pray for him instead. If we are truly Christ-like, then we should be praying people and mournful over the lack of God’s name being hallowed in the world. (Note: We should also be intensely joyous people!). We don’t mourn T.O.’s sin, our family’s sin, and our own sin because we fail to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Rather, we banter and talk and quibble about theological issues and comment about the lives of celebrities without questioning whether or not this is edifying. Certainly, not every comment concerning the T.O. situation is inappropriate. But how much would Jesus talk about T.O. if He were here? Would He call us gossipers? The man has a soul and needs our prayers, not our blogs about him or our questions regarding the authenticity of his faith. Let us pray for our own souls lest we be given over to an unbelieving heart.

29 09 2006
Sterling Bill

Thank you, very nice read.
T.O. is just wishing…his desire for more and more has ruined his chances of making a stellar carreer, one that would eclipse the one he is now getting to the end of. He is not only empty spiritually, he sees his past and knows in the back of his mind that he blew it…many times. He could have had a great carreer in Philly, but now he is under the guns of Bledsoe, not as good as Mcnabb. Terrible folly. His pride of not asking for forgiveness and being humble before his former teammates has derailed his football life. Pride brought this man low. Or, rather, God’s punishment for his pride.

Now, I’m assuming he attempted suicide, which I’m not positive of (I have heard that it was a mistake, he’ll probably blame Drew Bledsoe in a press release).

It is not unlikely that he accredited God for his amazing recovery, many nonChristians have I seen do such a thing, although I don’t know if made a statement such as that. Could be.

30 09 2006

This post is for Rob

I think you missed the thrust of the original article written by Erik. The issue wasn’t as excuse to gossip about a celebrity but to hit home the issue and damaging effects of sin, but also the gloriousness and grace of Christ. This was an opportunity to demonstrate that. If this issue of sin is just quibling over theological issues, then I guess understanding the nature of sin and its effect isn’t important for the beleiver (good natured sarcasm intended). Rob, the issue is the heart and fleshing out its absolute corruption apart from the grace of God.

I want to echo, no, scream, Erik’s final remarks to “exalt in the grace of God through Jesus Christ while growing more impressed with Jesus!”

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it.” Jer 17:9

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