Money, glory and fame not always the answer
Posted on Thu, Sep. 28, 2006
[size=13pt]Money, glory and fame not always the answer[/size]
By RAY BUCK
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
The Cowboys know suicide, all too well.
It happened to one of their own, Larry Bethea, who played six seasons in Dallas, but never achieved his full potential as a first-round draft pick in 1978.
On April 24, 1987, Bethea put a .38-caliber automatic handgun to his right temple...and pulled the trigger. He was 30.
So, until Terrell Owens used a "What? You worry?" news conference Wednesday to debunk any notion that his 911 emergency Tuesday night was a suicide attempt, rather just another misunderstanding, the public was left in the dark for about six hours.
That gave us too much time to think.
How many times over the years have our sports heroes proved to be more fragile than we come to expect?
When it happens, the only surprise is that we're still surprised.
Here is a list of 10 past troubled athletes:
Dimitrius Underwood, Cowboys (2000-01) -- A physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 276 pounds, Underwood was hoping to make his third NFL stop a charm.
The former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings arrived in Dallas in 2000 with a puffy scar at the base of his throat -- the result of a September 1999 self-inflicted knife wound, which led to the diagnosis and treatment of acute bipolar disorder.
When he took his medication, Underwood was fine; when he didn't, he wasn't. In January 2001, he survived a second suicide attempt. This time, he waded into traffic along a major highway in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Fla., pleading to motorists: "I want to go to Jesus."
Alonzo Spellman, Cowboys (1999-2000) -- The 6-6, 320-pound former Bear-Cowboy-Lion was sentenced to 18 months in prison after an in-flight rampage that terrorized 138 Delta passengers in July 2002.
Spellman, now 35, was found to be bipolar in March 1998. This stemmed from a bizarre standoff with a SWAT team outside the suburban Chicago home of his female publicist, whom he held hostage for 10 hours.
Larry Bethea, Cowboys (1978-83) -- He could light up the world with his smile. But once his NFL career was over, Bethea turned to drugs following a failed experiment with the USFL. A series of legal problems added to his despondency.
Roger Moret, major-league pitcher (1970-78) -- The pencil-thin left-hander was with the 1978 Rangers when he fell into a catatonic trance before a game at Arlington Stadium.
Moret, wearing only his underwear, stood at his locker and held a rubber shower shoe in one hand. The trance lasted several hours.
Barret Robbins, Raiders (1995-04) -- The former TCU standout went AWOL before Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003, effectively ending his career with the Raiders. His condition: bipolar disorder.
In January 2005, Robbins was shot three times during a brawl with Miami Beach police, who responded to a burglary call at an empty office building. Robbins was charged with attempted murder, and later sentenced to five years' probation.
Dennis Rodman, former NBA star (1986-2000) -- As documented in his book, Bad As I Wanna Be, Rodman parked in an empty lot outside the Palace at Auburn Hills and contemplated suicide in April 1993. In the first sentence of the book, Rodman wrote: "I sat in the cab of my pickup truck with a rifle in my lap, deciding whether to kill myself."
That's a page-turner.
Justin Strzelczyk, Steelers (1990-99) -- In September 2004, the former NFL offensive lineman led New York state troopers on a 40-mile chase at speeds up to 100 mph. Pointing his pickup truck the wrong way down the Interstate 90, Strzelczyk died in a fiery, head-on collision with a tanker truck.
Terry Long, Steelers (1984-91) -- This ex-Steelers offensive lineman killed himself by drinking antifreeze. At the time, Long was scheduled for arraignment on charges of arson and insurance fraud. It was his second known suicide attempt. In 1991, he ingested rat poison, following a positive test for steroids.
Don Wilson, Houston Astros pitcher (1966-75) -- On Jan. 5, 1975, the hard-throwing right-hander was found dead of carbon monoxide poising in his garage in Houston. He was 29. Wilson pitched two no-hitters and had an 18-strikeout game, but he also reportedly had run-ins with Astros managers Harry Walker and Leo Durocher.
Jimmy Piersall, former major-league outfielder (1950-67) - Piersall suffered a mental breakdown in the '50s that was well-documented, to the point of being teased by opposing players and taunted by fans.
But it was his recourse that was so unusual -- he played to it.
When Hollywood turned his life story into a 1957 film, Fear Strikes Out, starring Anthony Perkins, Piersall responded: "I hated the movie."
He said Perkins threw like a girl.
In his 1984 book, The Truth Hurts, Piersall wrote, "Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts."
Ray Buck, 817-390-7096 rbuck@star-t[email protected]
Re: Money, glory and fame not always the answer
some wierd stuff in there about those guys that i hadnt known about, while i sympathise with some of those guys going through that, i do not believe that is the case in TO.
i've been saying it all along, and im sticking to that belief