Hours after sending a gracious yet puzzling middle-of-the-night text message to a former college coach, Tennessee Titans receiver O.J. Murdock died in an apparent suicide in Florida. He was 25.
TAMPA, Fla. — Hours after sending a gracious yet puzzling middle-of-the-night text message to a former college coach, Tennessee Titans receiver O.J. Murdock died in an apparent suicide, police said.
Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said officers found Murdock inside his car Monday morning with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The car was parked in front of Middleton High School, where Murdock made a name for himself as a dynamic receiver and state-champion sprinter.
Al McCray, an assistant coach at Fort Hays State, said when he woke up at his Kansas home Monday he found a message on his cellphone from the player, thanking him for everything he had done for Murdock and his family.
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The athlete concluded the text with an apology that baffled McCray, who said he had known the 25-year-old since Murdock was in middle school.
“At the end, he goes: ‘I apologize.’ And I don’t know what he’s talking about. I woke up, and I’m thinking he’s apologizing because he texted me so early. … I wish he had called instead.”
McCray was an assistant coach at Middleton when Murdock was a student and later helped the player resume his college career after he was kicked off the team at South Carolina, where he was part of coach Steve Spurrier’s first recruiting class.
Murdock, who signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spent last season on injured reserve, was in critical condition at a Tampa hospital before he died, police said.
The receiver did not report to training camp over the weekend because of what the Titans said at the time was a personal issue. He last was with the team in June for minicamp.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said the team didn’t detect signs anything was troubling Murdock.
“We didn’t have any (hints). It’s a phone call you never want to get,” Munchak said. “It’s something that as a head coach, you never think you’ll have to stand in front of your team and give them that kind of news. I think everyone was shocked by it.”
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Thomas slipped in practice Sunday covering receiver Domenik Hixon.
• Washington left guard Kory Lichtensteiger had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose particles from his right knee and is expected to be out until the Sept. 9 opener at New Orleans.
Also, Washington backup inside linebacker Jonathan Goff is out for the season after tearing his right ACL during practice Saturday.
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