Titans’ Murdock dead
Hours after sending a gracious yet puzzling middle-of-the-night text message to a former college coach, police say Titans receiver O.J. Murdock died in an apparent suicide.
A Tampa police spokeswoman said officers found Murdock at about 8:30 a.m. inside his car with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds. 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 in track and field.
Al McCray, assistant head coach/receivers 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. 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.
‘‘I spoke to him a week ago, and he was so excited about getting ready to go to training camp. He was real happy about being able to help his mother out,’’ McCray recalled. ‘‘You always like to hear kids who talk about that. It brings a smile to your face to hear a young man talk about ‘Hey, I'm glad I'm able to help my mother out.’ ’’
McCray was an assistant coach at Middleton when Murdock was there and later helped the player resume his college career after he was kicked off the team at South Carolina, where he was part of Steve Spurrier’s first recruiting class.
‘‘The hardest part about this is 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.’’
The speedy 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.