Friday, Don Lemon spoke with Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrell Owens on CNN Newsroom. Below is the transcript:
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're going to talk about another NFL player now.
You haven't heard much from Terrell Owens since a much-publicized 911 call more than a year ago, that is, except for an unexpected crying episode at a recent news conference. T.O. says he's a different person now. So, what changed?
Well, earlier this week, I asked him those questions and more. In an exclusive interview with the Dallas Cowboys star, he tells me the critics and the media have him all wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he took too many pills. Please, now.
LEMON: September 26, 2006, a day that changed Terrell Owens' life. That's the day the highly paid Dallas Cowboys star was rushed to a hospital and treated for a drug overdose after police responded to a report of a suicide attempt at his apartment. A media frenzy followed.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Terrell Owens, did he attempt suicide?
LEMON: And a wave of denial.
KIM ETHERIDGE, OWENS' FORMER PUBLICIST: Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive.
LEMON: In an exclusive interview with CNN this week, he stood by those denials.
You didn't try to take your own life?
TERRELL OWENS, NFL PLAYER: No.
LEMON: Not at all?
OWENS: Not at all. I mean, anybody that knows me, I love myself, so why would I want to take myself away from the world?
LEMON: Owens says he had an allergic reaction to Vicodin and legal supplements prescribed for a hand injury.
But, even with all the hoopla, the five-time All Pro wide receiver said the episode forced him to grow up, because for years while his career thrived, it was also checkered by very public spats with teammates and coaches.
OWENS: He have no desire to talk to me. I don't need to talk to him. When we step out on this field, we strap up.
OWENS: Oh, I can go the whole season without saying anything.
LEMON: Go long. Go long.
LEMON: At his home in Florida, he told me that, over the last year, he's learned to simply shut up, even though his critics are still mouthing off.
OWENS: A lot of people that, you know, they hear commentators say this and that about me, and I get the same reaction from a lot of people. If only they knew me, they wouldn't say those things.
LEMON: It's not everybody else's fault. Some of it has to be your doing.
OWENS: They say I'm arrogant. He's too flamboyant, all these other things. And all it is for me is just passion. It's just my love for the game.
I'm pretty sure I haven't done or said anything that nobody else has done. They may not just like the way that I do things. They may not like the way that I say things, but one thing that they cannot control is when I score touchdowns on Sunday and I make them eat their words.
LEMON: Cocky, yes. But Owens has the stats to back it up, one of the only two NFL players to score 13 or more touchdowns in five seasons. Yet, despite his high profile, he's kept his private life out of the spotlight and resents being compared to other athletes plagued by personal problems.
OWENS: I guarantee you; it can't be a character issue. It can't be anything that's so damaging as such as -- with the off-the-field problems that all these other guys are having that they're putting me in the same pool with.
LEMON: His colleagues and his coaches now publicly praise him.
DEMARCUS WARE, DALLAS COWBOYS TEAMMATE: A guy like T.O., he's going to show it on the field. He's going to lead by example out there and make some plays.
LEMON: Owens' most recent outburst was an emotional defense of teammate Tony Romo after the Cowboys lost a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
OWENS: It's really unfair. That's my team -- that's my quarterback-- if you guys do that, man, it's unfair. We lost as a team.
LEMON: You're not embarrassed by that?
OWENS: That's not the first time that I've cried. I'm pretty sure it's -- it probably won't be the last time that I cry.
LEMON: The tears may have brought him more unwanted attention, but Owens says they also made his biggest fans, his mother and grandmother, proud.
OWENS: As I grew up and as I started in the league, you know, I relied on what my grandmother told me, just be honest, be a good person. Sometimes, you know, my honesty has gotten me in a little trouble. Too much is given, much is required. And I've been able to deal with it.
LEMON: My interview with Terrell Owens. And T.O. tells me he will be in Arizona this weekend for the Super Bowl festivities, but of course, he'd rather be playing in the game on Sunday.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. So I asked you this question yesterday and you would not reveal it. So question now --
WHITFIELD: Why now? Why does he say, OK, I'll talk? I'll just let it all hang out.
LEMON: Well, one reason is because we called, we tried to get him. Because of --
WHITFIELD: But a lot of folks have called.
LEMON: Yes, a lot of folks have tried to get him. But we tried to get him because of the crying incident. He's been in the news. It was the main page on AOL. It was on the cover of every newspaper. People talked about him and never saw him be emotional before. And many football players be that -- they're emotional, but you don't see them cry like that.
WHITFIELD: Oh, we've seen other NFL or professional athletes who have cried when coming really close to the big one, in this case, the Super Bowl.
LEMON: Right. But when I talked to him, I said -- tell me about you. And he said, well, I think the media mischaracterizes me. I will do certain things, spike the ball, do certain things, and they will say that it's bad. And when someone else does it, they'll say it's good for the game.
He says, I have never been in trouble with the law, anything like that. My personal life has always been very private, but yet, I'm lumped in the same category as the bad boys, the people who have these personal problems who are always in the newspapers and on the news. I don't understand that.
Yes, you know, he says he's honest and he'll tell the truth and he'll comment about other people. But he says he's not a bad person.
He doesn't understand why he gets lumped in the category with the bad boys because deep down, he says he's a good guy.
WHITFIELD: OK. It was interesting to hear T.O., but I think far more interesting was watching you play football. That's all I've got to say.
LEMON: And he -- he made fun of the football that I keep in my trunk. He made fun of it. I wanted him to sign it -- I had an erasable marker. He goes, man, I'll -- get a leather football, a good one, and send it to me and I'll sign it -- he wouldn't sign it. But, he laughed at my football skills. He was throwing with his left hand.
WHITFIELD: I know you can't wait to get the real football with the real signature.
LEMON: He was fascinating, very fascinating.
credit: CNN Newsroom
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