Tennessee Titans wide receiver O.J. Murdock, who never reported to training camp, has died in Tampa, Fla., according to the Tampa Bay Times, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Murdock's body was found in the parking lot at around 8:30 a.m. EDT at Middleton High School, where he had starred as a prep player. He was transported to Tampa General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:43 a.m. EDT.
Murdock, 25, never reported for training camp for the Titans who placed him on the reserve/did not report list. Titans coach Mike Munchak had indicated that Murdoch was dealing with a personal issue, but had said he expected the receiver to report soon.
"We were concerned initially when O.J. didn't report on the 27th," Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. "But we were able to make contact with him and he assured us everything was OK and he would be in here on Sunday. He didn't make it on Sunday."
Murdock came to the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2011, but tore his Achilles tendon in training camp and was placed on injured reserve, missing the entire season.
Coach Mike Munchak, who had to announce Murdock's death to the team in a meeting Monday, said he was unaware of any issues the receiver was having or any problems related to his injury recovery process.
"We didn't have any (hints). It's a phone call you never want to get. 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. We weren't aware that there were any issues going on," Munchak said.
He began his college career at the University of South Carolina, but was dismissed from the team. He then finished his college career at Division II Fort Hays State.
Titans players were stunned by the news, which hit close to home especially for a couple of players. Wide receiver Damian Williams had let Murdock stay at his house this spring when he returned to Nashville for off-season work. Williams made tribute-type gestures as a way to pay homage to Murdoch on the practice field Monday. And he took Murdoch's paper nameplate and taped it inside his own locker as well.
“It's tough. He was always a happy guy who played around a lot and always had a smile on his face. I definitely didn't see it coming,” Williams said. “I talked to him on Friday night and he told me he was doing all right and that he'd be here Sunday.”
As to why Murdock didn't report, Williams said he didn't get a clear answer when they talked.
“I talked to him and just assumed it was a personal issue. We didn't talk that much about it,” he said.
Titans tight end Jared Cook knew Murdock when both signed with South Carolina out of high school. It is the second time Cook has seen a former Gamecocks teammate take his own life. Former Denver Broncos Kenny McKinley committed suicide in 2010. Cook had roomed with both Murdock and McKinley.
“It's very weird. It's a sad thing to happen. It's real weird because me, Kenny, O.J., and Sidney Rice were all roommates my second year there. I just hate to hear about it,” Cook said. “He seemed in good spirits when he left. I talked to him about two weeks ago and everything seemed fine. You just don't see stuff like this coming.”