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 Thursday, September 30
Underwood's family blames 'cult' news services

 LANSING, Mich. -- Dimitrius Underwood's mother says her son's apparent suicide attempt and his recent erratic behavior have been influenced by a "cult that's posing as a church."

Underwood, a rookie defensive end who walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract only to return to football to support his family, slashed his own neck and was found bleeding on a street, police in Lansing, Mich., said Monday.

The Dolphins placed Dimitrius Underwood on the non-football injury list Tuesday while the rookie defensive lineman recovers from self-inflicted stab wounds to the neck.

"This will allow him to focus in on his recovery both medically and physically and it will allow us to work with him as far as counselors," Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said. "We actually set up counseling for him last week.

"This takes away the thought of playing this year and allows him to get back on the right track and focus in on next year."

Underwood has recovered enough from his self-inflicted stab wounds that he has been discharged Thursday from Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich.

Before she left Monday for Lansing from her Philadelphia home, Underwood's mother, Eileen Underwood, said she wanted to speak out against a church her son began attending while at Michigan State.

"There are controlling spirits in there," Eileen Underwood, an ordained minister, told The Miami Herald. "I visited one time and the pastor was talking about if a young man and woman in the church are dating and then they break up, he won't let them date anyone else for six months.

"That's not in the Bible. I know the Bible. That's just someone trying to control people. It's a den of witches sitting up in there."

She declined to name the church but said she might take action against it.

Underwood had been attending Immanuel's Temple Community Church for about a year, the Lansing State Journal reported in August.

The Rev. Phillip Owens, told the State Journal in August that neither he nor his wife, Patricia, had ever counseled Underwood and that no one in the church told Underwood to leave football.

In a story in the State Journal on Wednesday, Owen dismissed the allegations by Underwood's mother that the church is a cult.

"Any mother would be distraught," he said. "She's grasping at straws. What she may not be facing here is that her son has some problems. The church is not a cult."

He also said he had not had contact with Underwood since he left for Miami.

Immanuel's Temple Community, which has more than 700 members, has been meeting in a union hall and is building a $7 million church.

Underwood's sister, Andrea Underwood, said one member of the church -- which she also did not name -- who recruited Underwood always seems to be around when Underwood acts in a bizarre manner.

Underwood was the Minnesota Vikings' second first-round draft pick in April. He left training camp after one day, saying he could not resolve the conflict between playing football and serving his faith.

Underwood gave football another chance in August when the Miami Dolphins claimed him on waivers, but attended only two practices before dislocating his left shoulder in an exhibition game. He had been expected to begin practicing again this week.

"We are 100 percent supportive of him," Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said. "Our No. 1 concern is his health and well-being, and the No. 1 thing we want to do is for him to get well."

On Saturday, Lansing police arrested Underwood on a warrant accusing him of nonpayment of child support. A $500 bond was posted for him about three hours later, but Underwood refused to leave the jail for another hour, spending the time talking to another inmate, police spokesman Lt. Ray Hall said.

"I think Dimitrius' behavior over a little bit of time here has been a little bit unusual," Michigan State coach Nick Saban said Monday. "We tried to help the guy last year; I know the Dolphins have tried to help him now, and I've talked to him on several occasions. ... Maybe now someone can help him and he can do well."

Hall said Underwood slashed his neck with a knife at the home of the mother of his twin 17-month-old children, where he was staying. No one in the home saw him cut himself, but several people in the neighborhood saw him running down the street afterward.

Hall said evidence at the scene and witnesses' statements convinced police Underwood used the knife on himself. The officer said the player used a common household knife. He declined to say if Underwood had written a suicide note.

Underwood, 22, cooperated with police when they found him about 12:45 p.m. Sunday and has spoken with police since, Hall said. He declined to say if Underwood gave them a reason for his actions, but said police are close to completing their investigation.

"Our attention is turned toward safeguarding his good mental health," Hall said.

Underwood played defensive end at Michigan State for three seasons before sitting out his senior year with a sprained ankle. The Minnesota Vikings made him the 29th pick in the first round of the draft.

He signed a five-year, $5.3 million contract Aug. 1 but walked out of training camp the next day. Underwood told coach Dennis Green he had no desire to play football.

The Vikings released him Aug. 11. Underwood sacrificed a $1.75 million signing bonus by leaving.

"Hopefully, he'll be fine and then find the kind of assistance, help that he needs to do a good job, and I'm not talking about football," Green said Monday.

Underwood was claimed on waivers by Miami after 23 teams passed on him. He is getting a base salary of $395,000 in the first season of a five-year contract with Miami.


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