IRVING, Texas – Now that police have decided Terrell Owens was hospitalized because of an "accidental overdose," the next big decision involving the Dallas Cowboys receiver is up to coach Bill Parcells.
Owens practiced Thursday for the first time since breaking his right hand Sept. 17, and spoke briefly with Parcells for the first time since being hospitalized Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Parcells came away pleased, but not ready to declare T.O. will play Sunday in Tennessee.
Owens was back on the field for practice Friday.
"We'll just see how it goes," Parcells said Thursday. "I'm not sure where we're going to be on it when Saturday comes."
Parcells needs to make sure Owens is physically and mentally ready to play. While the coach will have the final say, he defers to experts in the other areas.
"I have to, as the coach, rely on other people to keep me informed as to really what's going on," Parcells said. "I can't form my own independent opinion other than those involving, `Is his hand functional and can he play on Sunday?' If my medical people tell me those things are in place, and then he looks like he's (OK), we'll make that consideration then."
Parcells didn't delve too deeply into the topic of Owens' mental state, but pointed out that Owens checked out of the hospital after about 15 hours.
"If they deemed it appropriate to release him, there must be a reason why they did that," he said.
While Owens was in the hospital, a police report that said he was depressed and tried to kill himself reached the media. Owens denounced it a few hours later, saying he mixed painkillers he was prescribed for his hand injury with his usual supplements.
His version of the story lined up with several pieces of information released Thursday — a final report from police and the 911 tape from Tuesday night.
The police closed their investigation, having ruled out a suicide attempt. Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said he still has "great confidence" in his officers' initial report, but noted that document is not "the definitive account of the incident."
"We're dealing with incomplete information, and facts that change," he said.
For instance, the initial report indicated there was an empty pill bottle and 35 unaccounted for painkillers; Owens later said the missing medicine was in a drawer.
"Further investigation leads you to a different conclusion," Kunkle said.
The 911 call by Owens' publicist Kim Etheredge shows that she was on the line for 41 seconds, never said anything about a suicide attempt and never mentioned Owens' name.
"I think he took too many pills," she told a paramedic. "Please. Now. ... What do I do if the pills are down the throat?"
When Etheredge spoke to reporters Wednesday, she lashed out at authorities, saying, "I am just upset that I just feel they take advantage of Terrell. Had this been someone else, this may not have happened."
Kunkle dismissed the criticism Thursday, but the head of the Dallas Police Association didn't. He called for an apology from Owens and Etheredge, saying, "We police officers don't go out to these calls and make stuff up."
"They're being put under a microscope by some fancy little football person," Senior Cpl. Glenn White said Thursday. "Give me a break. Those officers are 10 times better than this man."
Etheredge later said she was sorry in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She added that her comments were "about the entire situation with the report and ensuing media controversy," not just the police.
"I would like to apologize for any slight and am extremely thankful to the police, the fire department and the paramedics for their quick response," she said.
Etheredge was far from being angry and outraged on her call to 911. She started out politely, saying in an urgent tone, "Hi, I have an emergency please."
Panicked but composed, she said "thank you" before being transferred to a paramedic, then told the second operator, "Hi. I need an ambulance please, immediately."
The paramedic asked if her friend was still breathing. Told that he was, the paramedic reassured Etheredge that rescue workers were en route.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank you."
At practice Thursday, Owens wore receiving gloves with padding protecting the bone he broke in a game a week ago Sunday. A metal plate was screwed into the bone the following day.
Owens did not talk to reporters Thursday, but fellow receiver Sam Hurd passed along this update: "I asked him how he felt and he said, `I feel good to go. All good.'"
"He was running fine," backup quarterback Tony Romo said. "I thought he caught the ball pretty good. I expect him to be ready to go this weekend."
Wearing a small bandage over the scar on his right hand, and a black T-shirt that read "U Big Dummy" above a picture of TV character Fred Sanford, Owens walked into the locker room, sat on a sofa and unwrapped his lunch, then decided to take it into an adjacent, off-limits dining area.
When he returned, Owens shooed away reporters, then went back to the same spot on the sofa where he'd been before. He grabbed a copy of the Cowboys Weekly newspaper to occupy his time.
Among the articles that caught his attention: "Young Receivers Have Opportunity To Step Up After Broken Finger Sidelines Owens," and a scouting report of the Eagles, next week's foe and the team that dumped him midway through last season.
His teammates are going about their business as if nothing happened.
Cornerback Aaron Glenn, a 12-year veteran, said Owens' ordeal hasn't been a distraction within the club.
"We've got a game to play. We're talking about Tennessee," Glenn said. "This is the NFL, not peewee football. The only thing that we're worried about is that he's OK. He is."