Terrell Owens is a hard guy to like: he’s built a reputation in football as one of the most difficult team members to have, and if you’re a sports fan of one of the cities whose team he pretty much ruined with his antics his name might still make you cringe. His VH-1 spectacle, The T.O. Show, was intended to enhance his image, but revealed a troubling attitude towards women that left a bad taste in the mouths of many viewers. Last but not least, T.O. is so behind on child support payments for his four kids by four different mothers that he’s been labeled a deadbeat. In spite of all of this, February’s GQ cover story and interview of Owens can’t help but make you feel a little bad for the guy.

A lot of what T.O. has to say sounds familiar: He had such a bright future and has always worked hard at his sport. He made a lot of money (like $80 million a lot) and wasn’t lavish with it but was “too trusting” and now it’s all gone. He wants to be a good father to his children but can’t seem to make ends meet, especially since his athletic future isn’t what it used to be. Much of what he has to say is typical rags-to-riches stuff.

But there’s another side of Owens presented here that’s surprising if not just sad: In spite of some very apparent mental health issues, he’s spent years debunking speculation that he’s bipolar. He’s clearly depressed and makes clear “I don’t have no friends. I don’t want no friends. That’s how I feel.” When people do contact him to check how he’s doing, he regularly responds “I’m in hell.” Most troublingly, his relationships with his children’s mothers are so strained that he has never even met his youngest child and treats the whole situation as group persecution. He’s burned his professional and personal bridges and lacks the perspective to repair them.

It doesn’t make sense for my heart to bleed for Terrell Owens, confessed jackass and — there’s no way around it — deadbeat dad. But this interview sheds a much-needed light on the trappings of success and what can happen to people who simply aren’t prepared to take care of themselves and their responsibilities.

Full text of the interview at GQ.

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  • Cherish

    Four children from four different women. That gets on my nerves because it’s disorganized, not functional, and irresponsible. It’s always best to have children from the same parents. I just can’t get over it because it reminds me of how backwards most black people are. Instead of compromising pleasure (and demoting intimacy from marriage to ‘when you love the person’), just don’t do anything at all.

    On another note, I kind of feel sorry for Terrell. When you have a good amount money, it is reasonable to live beneath it-being wisely. The same goes for giving money to people. Truly give back to those who has been there for you, but you have to consider yourself as well.

  • Tonton Michel

    If he is bipolar that would explain a lot including the children and poor spending habit. Spending money can be a mood elevator for someone who is depressed. Doesnt help that he played football with the hard contact to the head and has mental issues that run in his family. If true dude was screwed from the giddy up.

    • Nne

      Yup, spending sprees and erratic sexual behaviors are classic presentations of the manic phase of *untreated* bipolar disorder. That interspersed with bouts of depression, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was indeed bipolar.

      I caught part of an episode of his reality series, and couldn’t help but think that we was somewhat of a douchebag, but I could totally see how it is very much possible that he may some mental health issues, which is unfortunate for him and his dependents. I personally sympathize, and despite his riches, you can’t earn your way out of mental health issues – you have to recognize them and submit yourself the the fact that you, on your own, are powerless over them – leading you to seek help. Such issues will pull you down – whether you’re out on the football field making millions or walking the streets as a disheveled pan-handler.

      Regardless of what he may or may not have, this man needs to seek help, lest he end up hurting himself for good or end up the inspiration for a future article on stigma, shame, and mental health in the black community – the deadly consequences.

  • Isis

    Its a lot of blk folks running around with mental illness but we dont believe in therapy, we believe in giving it to God. The mental issues are exaggerated when we get a lot of money and/or fame. Its so sad