- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

Dr. Deion Sanders, meet Dr. Michael Irvin.

They take it one patient at a time, in this case Terrell Owens.

They are just two of the mental-health practitioners on the job.

The list of blubbering blunderbusses grows by the news cycle, each as strained as the last.

In their rush to judgment, distant voices have termed Owens’ late-night trip to a hospital as a cry for help, a cry for attention or a cry for world peace, no doubt after studying his medical chart and checking his vital signs.

They actually know no more than Bill in Peoria, Ill., waiting on Line 2 of a gabfest show to lend his vast insights on the matter of a leaked police report and the subsequent denials of a suicide attempt by Owens and his camp.

This journalistic bout of mindlessness descends to the depths of Richard Jewell, the so-called mad bomber of the Atlanta Games in 1996.

It turned out Jewell was guilty of only doing his job.

Not that it is necessary to go back 10 years to note the overwrought output of the self-important.

And journalists are very important professionals, in case you forget.

We could point out the massive hyperventilating associated with the arrest of John Mark Karr last month. The cable talk shows all but convicted the crackpot of murdering JonBenet Ramsey.

The host of the shows would issue the following caveat at the outset: We do not know what is what.

Not that this admission prevented anyone from dispensing opinions on that which they did not know the rest of the show.

The quality of an opinion is secondary to having one.

You must have an opinion, even an ill-informed one, and the louder it is, the better.

In this spirit, ESPN employs a mute button on one of its gaseous entertainment vehicles, whereupon the boy host hits the mute button whenever one of the four worn-out blowfishes exceeds the imaginary boundaries.

This is funny in an Ed Wood way, being so bad that it is good.

The discharge of the four sports scribes amounts to little, if that, other than the face time that feeds their egos.

Owens long has been a version of a reality show, as painfully contrived as the rest of the human car wrecks who peddle their dysfunctions to a mass audience.

His pathologies, whatever they may be, hardly lend themselves to the simple analysis of the 24/7 news cycle that chews up everything in its path.

Perhaps he was dropped on his head as an infant. Or perhaps he was not hugged enough as a child. Or perhaps he is misunderstood, as we all are, none of which gets anyone closer to knowing the circumstances that lead to his behavioral problems.

A true understanding undoubtedly would require Owens to spend countless sessions with a shrink.

That hardly stymies the rent-a-shrinks in print and on the airwaves, all of whom have put out a shingle, hung up their diplomas and, benevolently enough, are not charging Owens a dime for their services.

The act of drooling in public rarely matters in sports, because the subject matter is often no more complex than who’s better — Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle?

The cartoon-like medical opinions of Owens may not matter as well, for he certainly has done his part in becoming a cartoon figure.

He enjoys the attention, good or bad, and as Dr. Kim Etheredge put it, he has 25 million reasons not to be despondent, as if genuine depression afflicts only the poor.

But what do we know?

She is the doctor, one of many, in fact.

The general consensus of all the doctors is that maybe Owens has a deep-rooted mental condition, but maybe not, and if he does, then everything said and written about him previously is taken back.

They are doctors, after all, there to help others.



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