By The Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. — Tennessee Titans reserve receiver O.J. Murdock has died of an apparent suicide, Tampa police say.
Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said officers found the 25-year-old Murdock inside his car Monday morning with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The car was parked in front of Middleton High School, where Murdock attended school.
He was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he later died.
Murdock did not report to training camp over the weekend because of what the team said at the time was a personal issue.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock’s death this morning,” the Titans said in a statement Monday. “In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent the last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year’s training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy.”
As a senior at Middleton in 2005, Murdock was rated the 10th-best wide receiver recruit in the nation by Rivals.com. He signed with South Carolina, but played in only four games, making one catch, after redshirting his first season. He was arrested for shoplifting at a Florida department store during that 2006 season and suspended.
Murdock transferred to Pearl River Community College in Mississippi and then to Division II Fort Hays State in Kansas. As a senior in 2010, he had 60 catches for 1,290 yards and 12 touchdowns.
That earned him an invitation to the NFL scouting combine. After going undrafted, he was signed by the Titans last summer but spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve after hurting his right Achilles early in training camp.
Three former NFL players — Junior Seau, Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson — each died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the past year and a half. Easterling and Duerson were found to have brain damage at the time of their deaths and their families are among those suing the league over the long-term effects of concussions. Brain tissue from Seau has been released by his family for study.
Murdock’s name had not come up in the ongoing concussion debate.