Many sports fans may be celebrating the 27-21 win that the Kansas City Chiefs claimed over the Carolina Panthers, but the team and its community are reeling from the recent tragedy that left two young people dead.
Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher made headlines Saturday after word broke that the 25-year-old NFL player shot and killed his girlfriend before committing suicide in front of his coach and general manager.
The emotional victory was dampened by the overwhelming loss, as Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel made the game-time decision to hit the field. Police have yet to release any additional information about the murder-suicide, but what’s known is that Belcher shot 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins multiple times Saturday morning before driving about five miles to Arrowhead Stadium to thank Pioli and Crennel for all they’d done for him.
Shortly afterwards, Belcher fatally shot himself in the practice facility’s parking lot.
The Kansas City Police have not released a motive for the shooting of Belcher’s girlfriend, other than to say the couple had been arguing in recent days. The devastating news was made worse when word broke that the two left behind a 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, who, according to FOX News, is being cared for by family.
Sunday, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt offered his condolences to the families affected by the murder-suicide, calling it “an incredibly difficult 24 hours for our family and for our organization.” The decision to hit the field against the Carolina Panthers was left up to coach Romeo Crennel and the team captains to decide.
Hunt said that Pioli called him from that same parking lot immediately after the shooting, commenting that he flew from his home in the Dallas area to Kansas City on Saturday afternoon.
“I spent the evening last night at the team hotel with them,” Hunt said. “I wanted to be there with the team, with the coaches, to let them know I love them and support them and know what they’re going through, and particularly the guys who were present in the parking lot when Jovan took his life. I know this has to be incredibly difficult.” At the root of it all is Belcher’s mother, who recently had moved in with the couple to help raise Zoey. According to the Huffington Post, she called 911 after her son shot Kasandra Perkins. (911 recordings are not public records in Missouri.)
The NFL tried to set a precedent for such situations earlier this year by providing a grant to help establish the NFL Life Line, an independently operated phone service that connects players, coaches, team officials and other staff with counselors trained to work through personal and emotional crises. The NFL Life Line is available 24 hours a day.