Sunday, December 2, 2012

What to do about the Jovan Belcher shooting

So, if you read this blog, you know two things about me...
I am an endurance sport junkie, and I live in Kansas City.  You have probably read some remarks about the Chiefs here and there, but lately they have not done anything noteworthy, so I haven't really written anything about them.

I have been staying up with the Chiefs since I was 10 years old.  I grew up in the Kansas City suburbs on the Kansas side (there is a Kansas City, Kansas, and a Kansas City, Missouri - if you didn't know).  I've watched them win their conference, go to playoffs, play in the AFC title game, but always fall short.  In Jr High and High School, I was so invested in watching the Chiefs that I would take it pretty personal when they lost or were knocked out of the playoffs.  Like kids at Christmas, I looked forward to every Chiefs Sunday.  Tickets were hard to come by when I was a kid.  Every game was full and sold out.  My first game in person was Joe Montana's first year.  Never mind the ticket was outrageously priced for a high school kid, in nose bleed and cold.  It didn't matter.  My high school buddies and I were on top of the world being at the game live watching the Montana magic.  Kind of like Leonardo on Titanic... "king of the world".

Fast forward 17 years and the Chiefs are far from a playoff contender.  They are looking down the barrel at a 1 win season and fans are actually hoping for the worst record to get the first overall draft choice.  The general manager and head coach are on watch to get fired by season's end.  It's just not looking good when your team is 1-10.  The past 10ish years have provided two playoff years where the Chiefs were one and done.  The team changes coaches every 2 to 3 years.  The players with talent don't seem to have the passion for the game.  It's easy to be an apathetic Chiefs fan these days.

I actually have been to one game this year (Chiefs got hammered by the Bengals) and plan to go to 2 more.  Did I find some new found inspiration to support the team?  Not really.  It's partly a gift to my mom for birthday and Christmas (tradition more than interest in watching bad football), partly the ease of access to the event and the price is right.  You can wonder into the game for $10 in nose bleed and find a 50 yard line seat in the lower level to move into with no problem.  You just have to get over paying $27 to park and $30 for hot dogs and drinks.  Normally weather is in the 40's and 30's, but right now we're looking at 60' and 70's.  If it wasn't for the pathetic showing on the field, going to a Chief's game wouldn't be a bad way to spend a Sunday.

That was until yesterday morning (12/1/12) when Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Chiefs for the past 4 seasons, shot himself in the practice facility parking lot around 8am.

Inside linebacker Jovan Belcher #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs watches from the sidelines during his final game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

By all accounts, it's a tragic series of events.  Jovan apparently shot his girlfriend, mother if his 3 month old daughter, drove to the practice facility, spoke with the coach and general manager, and then shot himself in the head.

The game is scheduled to go on as planned today, 12/2/12.  We have tickets.  I plan on going.

As I eat breakfast and type this up, I'm conflicted and filled with so many thoughts.  How tragic is this?  What would possess him to do that?  Will they pay some sort of tribute at the game?  How can the head coach still coach after seeing that?  How can we as fans show support?

And then the bigger questions came up.  Does Jovan deserve any sort of tribute?  Questions immediately popped up about head trauma, depression, mental illness.  Did Belcher have any of these issues that drove him to this end?  When you read the articles surfacing, personally I start coming up with a picture of a domestic violence case that went very wrong.  It doesn't appear per-meditated.  By all accounts, they were a normal couple that had their issues.  For some reason, Belcher used a gun to end it.  Driving to the practice facility and speaking to the head coach and GM, which it appears he requested them when he arrived, to say thank you good bye.  It doesn't seem consistent with a depressed person, mental illness or severe depression.  It appears to be the act of someone that perpetrated such a horrific act, that the only out was to take his own life.

I would like to think that murdering his girlfriend was just a horrendous mistake, but reports say he shot her multiple times.  His mother who was at the house knows for sure, and it's still being investigated, and more facts are coming out, but it's just sad.

The real victims are his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, his 3 month old daughter and his mother.  If anything, they should get the shrines and prayers.  It's a struggle to figure out what Jovan should get, if anything.  The fact is his murdered his girlfriend.

It in instant of turning on my radio yesterday morning, who really cares about a 1-10 season.  Who cares if the GM and head coach should be fired.  This in the end, is a game.  The head coach and GM just witnessed a player they cared about kill himself.  No one should have to deal with that, but it happens probably more than it should in this country.  But, what NFL team has had to deal with this?  Players have committed suicide from mental illness linked to head injuries from playing, but Jovan last had a head injury in 2009.  That round peg doesn't fit into this square hole.  Suicide shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as professional football, but here we are.  Life and death in something that's purely entertainment.

It's a sobering day.  It'll be interesting to see how the game goes, how the players and coaches handle it, how the head coach handles it, what the public reaction will be and just to see how things play out.

Mainly it's just sad and tragic.
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