Sports psychologist says even Owens can't buy happiness

September 29th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Sports psychologist says even Owens can't buy happiness

By Paul Domowitch
Philadelphia Daily News
PHILADELPHIA - Terrell Owens hires the damnedest people to work for him. First, an agent who gets him a pink slip instead of a new contract. Now, a publicist who manages to make a nationally televised fool of herself and get her client's name on the Dallas Police Department's enemies list.
Kim Etheredge, come on down.
What could this woman possibly have been thinking Wednesday when she basically called the Dallas cops big, fat liars? And what was running through that little mind of hers when she made that tasteless "Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive" comment?
We probably never will really know what was behind Owens' trip to the emergency room Tuesday night. Maybe it was, as he and Etheredge claim, just an allergic reaction to a mix of painkillers and supplements. Or maybe it was indeed a suicide attempt.
Etheredge's absurd "25 million reasons" comment suggests that an athlete as rich and famous as Owens couldn't possibly suffer dark enough thoughts to consider ending his life. Even though we have since learned from his longtime trainer that T.O. was indeed distraught that night over his breakup with his fiancee and his inability to be with his son, who lives in California, for his 7th birthday.
"That kind of comment reinforces the way we sometimes simplistically look at athletes and what their emotional life can be like," said Dr. Joel Fish, a local sports psychologist and director of the Center for Sport Psychology. "Howard Hughes was one of the richest men in the world and was depressed. I think it's pretty clear that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness, and money doesn't necessarily buy contentment."
Fish said athletes are human, just like the rest of us. They have the same ups and downs. The same emotional issues.
"Just because an athlete is big and strong physically doesn't means he's big and strong emotionally," he said. "There's zero relationship between NFL-level talent and NFL-level personality. If 10 or 15 percent of the general population experience clinically significant feelings relating to anxiety, depression and interpersonal-relationship problems, then 10 or 15 percent of pro athletes do, too.
"The fact that T.O. has interpersonal issues going on is not unusual. In fact, it's pretty normal. I'm not surprised to hear that he might have some things in his personal life that could be affecting him. It's easy to look at him as just No. 81. But he's flesh and blood, just like me or you. He just happens to be extraordinarily skilled in this one aspect of his life.
"His challenge is the same as every pro athlete, which is to manage all of the emotions that are going on in both his personal ad professional life and be able to perform."
Fish doesn't know how Owens will come out of this emotionally. But he has a pretty good idea how he thinks he'll come out of it professionally. And it doesn't bode well for the Eagles.
"Elite athletes respond to pressure and they respond to challenges," he said. "That's what intrigued me about the way he responded physically to the challenge of recovering from his (ankle) injury two years ago and playing in the Super Bowl and the way he performed in it.
"Well, now he's got an amazing emotional challenge here. No matter what happened, there's going to be some more pressure on him and all eyes watching him, particularly when he comes to Philadelphia next week.
"This guy's track record is when the pressure's on, he rises to the occasion."

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