world of Right Now, getting the story first is more important than getting it right. If Owens is to be believed, and we have spoken to health care professionals who say it makes sense, he took some wrong amounts of medication and didn't understand the questions he was answering from police. Those answers led to what should have been a preliminary police report that quoted Owens as saying he intended to harm himself. Once that report got into media hands, it would have been wrong of any media outlet not to have reported that.
But somewhere today there's probably some Dallas police personnel minus a few layers of hide for letting that report get into media hands. Much as the reporter in me wants to admire the news professional who got that report, the citizen in me wants to demand it never happen again, if misinformation was dispensed.
And the news professional is profoundly embarrassed and disappointed at the people who went on the air and on the Internet and dispensed about four or five hours worth of wisdom and speculation about Owens' mental health and the impact on the football team without even knowing what had happened or when or to whom.
Opinions were formed and shared and judgments made without so much as talking to a person involved. We understand about filling time. Our question is, why could it not be filled with people saying, "We ought to wait until the facts are in," instead of talking about how Bill Parcells couldn't possibly keep his team together with this shocking suicide attempt that masked some deep dark secret.
So we're down to this: Did Owens try to harm himself? Who knows? What does the answer matter if we don't believe him? Assume what you wish. Part of the problem is that this man comes with the baggage of disbelief, when maybe we should be practicing clean slates and second chances.
This much is certain: By the time Thursday lunch rolls around, most of the public will only want to know how this impacts the Cowboys chances Sunday in Nashville, Tenn., and for the season. For an answer, let's call on my partner on he Cowboys' radio broadcasts, former Cowboys safety Charlie Waters.
Waters was in the early days of his Cowboys career when the team was preparing for a playoff game. A playoff game, mind you, and came the news that talented but troubled receiver Lance Rentzel, who was married to bombshell singer-actress Joey Heatherton, was arrested the day before the game for indecent exposure.
"Coach (Tom) Landry told us the night before the game that Lance wouldn't be playing the next day and here was why," Waters recalled Wednesday. "We all said, 'He did what?'"
And they went out and won the game.
Say a prayer for Terrell Owens and demand much, much better from the police and the media.
The football team will be fine.