Mark Radcliffe hopes that the NFL-and the nation-will learn something from the tragic death of yet another NFL player.
When a young man kills himself, it’s always a tragedy.
When that young man is also someone who once had a promising NFL career ahead of him, it seems more so.
But when that person also happens to make the curious decision to end his life in front of the high school where he was once a star, it makes the heart crack.
Because, for any star football athlete—and particularly in the case of this player, OJ Murdock—high school is where that future star first makes his mark, breaks school records, earns countless fans, and starts to believe in his own professional potential. It was there he “made a name for himself as a dynamic receiver and state champion sprinter in track and field” according to ESPN.
So for that same figure to return to that high school years later—after a troubled NFL career sidetracked by an Achilles heel injury—and end his life violently with self-inflicted gunshot wounds, is nothing short of heartbreaking.
What happened to this man?
What had made him believe, at the young age of 25, and with an NFL career still alive, that all was lost?
Why end it all?
And why return to his high school in Tampa, FL (Middleton High School) to do so?
Was he simply visiting a place of former glory to gain inspiration and was instead overcome with regret about how his own potential might have gone awry?
Was it a planned event, where he was trying to make a statement? Perhaps to someone and in regards to some situation most of us will never know about?
There have been no reports of a note left behind so far, so we may never know. There were reports that OJ was dealing with a “personal issue” at the time, but no details. Girlfriend troubles? Family illness? Who knows.
Still, many of us can empathize with the notion of perhaps not having achieved the heights we had in mind when we were younger. Hell, half of us wanted to be president when we were kids. Others amongst us wanted to be Hollywood actors, or business magnates, or famous novelists (still trying to sell mine, myself!). We’ve all met with failed expectations at some point. But what would make us do this?
Perhaps a more helpful question would be: what can the NFL learn from this? They’ve already had a rough year, with the lawsuit of 2000 players suing them for hiding information about the effects of concussions.
The irony was that just a few days ago, the NFL launched a suicide hotline for former players, in no small part in response to the three suicides of Junior Seau, Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson in the last year and a half. It’s a pity OJ Murdock probably never even knew about it.