O.J. Murdock (pictured), the Tennessee Titans wide receiver who died of an apparent suicide on Monday morning, sent texts to several of his former coaches and friends before he died, the Los Angeles Times reports.
One of his former coaches, Al McCray at Middleton High in Tampa, Fla., and at Fort Hays State in Kansas, got an early morning text message from his former player.
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According to The Times, here is McCray’s account of that text:
“I got a text at 3:30 in the morning, where he said: ‘Coach, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me and my family. It’s greatly appreciated,’” McCray said. “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.”
Another coach, Aesha Bailey, who coached Murdock at Memorial Middle, said she got an apologetic phone call from Murdock. “He just kept saying ‘I’m sorry, coach. I’m sorry,’ ” Bailey said. “That’s all he said.”
Bailey was the first person to find the fatally wounded Murdock inside of his car at Middleton High School on Monday.
He also texted a Tampa Tribune reporter, Bill Ward:
“Hey Mr Ward, it’s OJ Murdock…. I just want to thank u for everything you’ve done for me and my family. Can’t thank you enough.”
Ward replied to Murdock at 9:57 a.m.:
“Hi O.J. Thanks for those kind words. Are you recovered from the Achilles and back in camp with the (Titans)?”
Murdock did not respond.
Around 8:30 a.m., he was found alone in his car dying from what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Murdock was then transported to Tampa General Hospital where he later died at 10:43 a.m.
Murdock did leave a suicide note according to police, but its contents cannot be released as the investigation into his death is still ongoing.
The Times has some background on Murdock’s journey to the NFL:
Murdock, 25, had a tough road to the NFL. After making his mark as a star athlete in middle and high school, he signed with South Carolina but played just four games before being suspended indefinitely following a shoplifting charge. A comeback attempt at Pearl River Community College ended with a broken collarbone. He then received a scholarship from Marshall but did not take the right classes and was ineligible to play.
Murdock finally regained his star status at Fort Hays, where he had 60 catches for 1,290 yards and 12 touchdowns and earned a spot in the East-West Shrine all-star game in Orlando, Fla., his senior season. He made the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2011 but hurt his right Achilles’ early in training camp and spent the season on injured reserve.
Murdock told the Titans that he was going to report to training camp late because of “personal issues.” McCray, the former coach, said Murdock was in positive spirits when he last spoke with him.
And his rehabilitation, by most accounts, was going well, too.
WATCH Tennessee Titans React To O.J. Murdock’s Death
Murdock’s death has left loved ones and teammates saddened and puzzled.
“He was always a happy guy who played around a lot and always had a smile on his face,” Titans teammate Damian Williams said. “I definitely didn’t see it coming.”
Last week, the NFL launched wellness program where players and former players can seek help. The program includes a confidential mental-health hotline that players can call.