Final Words: "I Apologize, Coach"
O.J. Murdock committed suicide Monday morning in the parking lot of his high school. The Tennessee Titans wide receiver was scheduled to start training camp on Friday. He never made it.
O.J. Murdock fatally shot himself Monday morning. The NFL wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans was just 25 years old. Murdock was found in the parking lot of Middleton High School -- where he graduated in 2005 -- after police received a call from an individual who reported hearing a gunshot.
Murdock was alive when paramedics arrived on the scene at approximately 8:30 a.m., said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. "I don't know if he was alert, I just know he was still alive and he was severely wounded from the gunshot." Murdock was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital but at 10:30 a.m. was pronounced dead.
The Tennessee Titans released a statement Monday and extended their condolences to Murdock's family. "We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock's death this morning," the Titans said in their statement. "In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year's training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy."
There is no information with regard to O.J. Murdock's mental health at the time of his death. Murdock failed to show up for training camp as scheduled on Friday but team officials report Murdock was in contact and assured the Titans he was fine. "We were concerned initially when O.J. didn't report, and we were able to make contact with him. He assured us everything would be okay and he would be here on Sunday…" said Titans coach Mike Munchak. Murdock did not show up for practice on Sunday.
His agent, Hadley Engelhard, also echoes reports that O.J. seemed in good spirits shortly before his death. "When I spoke to him a week and a half ago he was training his tail off and excited about his opportunities this year." HIs agent did mention Murdock had a "tough last year" given his injury.
O.J. Murdock signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2011 but never played a single game. Prior to the Titans, Murdock played for Pearl River Community College and was scouted by the NFL at the end of 2010.
Just before Murdock inflicted the would-be fatal gunshot to his head, he texted coach Mike Munchak. Munchak reports the text "was like, 'Coach, I appreciate everything you've done for me and my family," said Munchak to the Tampa Bay Times. "At the end of the text he said, 'I apologize.' I figured he's apologizing because he texted me so early."
O.J Murdock is the fifth NFL player to commit suicide this year. Some speculate a link between football players' suicides and injuries they sustain on the field. Known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, experts suggest when the brain is exposed to numerous concussions and related trauma an individual can develop cognitive and behavioral problems.