AFC West: Jovan Belcher

A Kansas City judge awarded guardianship of Zoey Belcher to the cousin of the infant’s late mother.

Last December, Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins and then later shot himself. The baby was three months old at the time.

Belcher’s mother also tried to get guardianship of the baby, but the judge gave the baby to Perkins’ cousin, Sophie Perkins, who lives in Texas. Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd will remain in the child’s life, however.

Now that the legal issues are cleared, hopefully some closure can be achieved in this horrible event. The Chiefs have setup a foundation to assist in Zoey Belcher’s upbringing.

New San Diego pass-rusher Dwight Freeney made headlines when he said NFL owners banded together to not give huge contracts this free agency. Big-money deals were fairly sparse this year.

Freeney ended up doing well for himself when the Chargers gave him a deal that can be as rich as $13 million over two years. That’s a pretty good haul for a 33-year-old who had five sacks last season. The Chargers were forced to give Freeney a good contract after Melvin Ingram tore an ACL during an organized team activity practice. So while many players had to settle for less, Freeney did well considering the market.

In other AFC West notes:

There is a family custody battle going on for the daughter of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra M. Perkins. Belcher, a starting linebacker in Kansas City, killed Perkins and then himself last December while their daughter was just three months old.

 

AFC West notes

January, 30, 2013
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On "The Dan Patrick Show" (via Arrowheadpride.com), former Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli talked publicly for the first time about witnessing Jovan Belcher kill himself at the team’s facility Dec. 1. Belcher killed himself after killing the mother of his infant daughter. Pioli’s words are chilling and a reminder of what a horrible thing he witnessed.

Never shy of sharing opinions on his former team, LaDainian Tomlinson gave his thoughts on what the Chargers need to do this offseason.

Former San Diego offensive line coach Hal Hunter has joined the Colts’ staff.
On Monday, hours after firing yet another unsuccessful head coach, Clark Hunt reached out to season-ticket holders of the Kansas City Chiefs with a personalized email.

In it, Hunt expressed his sorrow and embarrassment over what has become of the franchise that his father, the legendary Lamar Hunt, made one of the most respected franchises in NFL history. The young Hunt, who has always preferred to stay in the background, promised better days ahead.

By the end of the week, the franchise's CEO gave his fan base huge reason for optimism.

By hiring Andy Reid -- arguably the biggest and best name of the available coaches -- Hunt has shown he is serious about making his team a winner.

“This is instant credibility,” said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. “It’s much like Denver hiring John Fox and St. Louis hiring Jeff Fisher ... it’s great for the long haul.”

[+] EnlargeAndy Reid
Eric Hartline/USA TODAY SportsAndy Reid brings lots of playoff experience and professionalism to Kansas City.
It became clear early that Hunt’s plan to revive the Chiefs -- who went from an expected playoff contender to a 2-14 team that has earned the No. 1 pick in the April draft -- was to get a powerful coach.

Four years ago, Hunt tried to keep the same structure that the franchise held from 1989 to 2008 when Carl Peterson ran the organization. Hunt hired Scott Pioli as general manager, and the hire was met with high expectations because of Pioli’s success as part of the process in New England. The Chiefs parted ways with Pioli on Friday, shortly before finalizing the Reid hiring.

Pioli was the hot general manager candidate in 2009. Hiring him was a sign that Hunt was going for it. Now, after the Pioli experience didn’t work, Hunt is going with a different strategy. But he’s still going for it.

Hunt is giving the power of the team to a coach. Reid will report directly to Hunt. It is a sign to the fans that Hunt is really serious about fixing this issue. A look at Reid’s track record suggests it is a worthwhile endeavor.

He won 130 games in Philadelphia and was a fixture in the playoffs. He knows how to run a team and an organization.

Reid is known for being a good man and a fair coach. He needs to create a happier atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium. Pioli was known for being abrasive to some employees and it wasn’t always a pleasant work atmosphere, even though recently fired coach Romeo Crennel was well-liked by players and team employees.

The tone of the atmosphere is set by the man running the program, and Reid can change the feeling around the building. The importance of that cannot be underscored. In Denver (even before Peyton Manning arrived), players and employees raved about the atmosphere Fox created after the not-always fun regimes of Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels.

The hiring of Reid and the departure of Pioli pushes the restart button for everyone involved.

In addition to the losing, the Chiefs had to deal with a December murder-suicide. Starting linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins, and then took his own life in front of Pioli and Crennel in the team’s parking lot.

Reid also is coming off a terribly painful season. His son, Garrett, died at the team’s training camp before a terrible on-field season commenced.

This is a fresh start for everyone. Still, there is plenty of work to be done.

Reid needs to find a quarterback and find a way to get success out of a talented but underachieving roster.

But Reid picked this job instead of talking to the Cardinals and the Chargers, for many reasons. He likes the stability of the Hunt family. He likes the roster. He likes having the No. 1 draft pick. He likes the passion of Chiefs fans. He probably also likes the fact that coaching in Kansas City will be less of a fish bowl than in Philadelphia.

He likes the idea of making Arrowhead Stadium a dreadful place for opponents to visit again.

And Hunt likes the idea of Reid's getting the job done. Will it work? That is yet to be seen. But there is no doubt Reid is equipped to handle the job, and give Hunt credit for quickly recognizing that in an attempt to end the misery in Kansas City.

Jets switch gears for Chargers

December, 18, 2012
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It will not be the Turnover Bowl.

It will not be return of Tebow Time in the AFC West.

It will just be the 5-9 San Diego Chargers against Greg McElroy and the similarly-playoff eliminated New York Jets on Sunday.

That’s no fun.

After a disastrous performance by Mark Sanchez on Monday night, the Jets have announced McElroy, the No. 3 quarterback, will start against the Chargers on Sunday. We were hoping for sexier storylines.

Had Sanchez kept his job, it would be a battle of the two players who have committed the most turnovers in the NFL since the start of last season. Sanchez has 50 turnovers since then and San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has 47.

This is Tebow’s only game against an AFC West opponent in his first season since being traded from Denver. Watching Tebow scurrying around the field against the Chargers would have brought back memories for everybody.

But instead, we get McElroy. Yep, this game has gotten even more meaningless.

In other AFC West news:

In an Insider piece, former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards writes how to stop a Peyton Manning-led offense.

More disturbing details have emerged from the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide case in Kansas City.

In another sad story, ESPN.com looks at the death of former Denver receiver Kenny McKinley. He killed himself two years ago while on the injured reserve.

Kansas CIty Chiefs: Moving On

December, 10, 2012
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Here are some areas the Kansas City Chiefs need to focus on after a 30-7 road loss at Cleveland on Sunday:

Recap: The Chiefs could not find the strength for second a straight win after the Jovan Belcher tragedy. The Chiefs took a 7-0 lead and then saw the Browns take over. The Chiefs are 2-11 and are on pace for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Biggest area to fix: Competition. Once again, the Chiefs were blown out. It was the seventh time the Chiefs have lost by at least 16 points. They just can’t keep in games on a regular basis.

Biggest area to build on: Jamaal Charles had 165 yards rushing, including an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. He has run for more than 100 yards in the past three games. He is the best player on this offense and he needs to be utilized.

What to watch for: The Chiefs play at the 3-10 Raiders in Week 15 in a game between two teams that will pick very high in the first round of the draft.

Wrap-up: Browns 30, Chiefs 7

December, 9, 2012
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A look at another Kansas City Chiefs loss:

What it means: The Chiefs couldn’t find a way to win their second straight game after a horrific tragedy that has affected the team. The Chiefs beat Carolina last week a day after starting linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins, and then killed himself in front of key figures of the team's brass. Belcher's memorial service was Wednesday and many in the organization attended Perkins’ funeral in Austin, Texas, on Saturday and then flew to Cleveland. The Chiefs were flat Sunday and they fell to 2-11. They are on pace for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. It was a lousy return to Cleveland for several Chiefs including head coach Romeo Crennel, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, quarterback Brady Quinn and running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis was booed loudly because of the rocky ending of his time in Cleveland last year.

Big day for Charles: Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles had 165 yards on 18 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. Charles was among those at Perkins’ funeral. Charles has had at least 107 yards rushing in the past three games. He has 1,220 rushing yards this season.

New streak: Last week the Chiefs scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game for the first time since Dec. 2010. Charles' touchdown made it two straight games that the Chiefs have scored a touchdown on their first drive.

Quinn not effective: A week after being the AFC Offensive Player of the Week, Quinn struggled. He completed 10 of 21 passes for 159 yards and tossed an interception.

Bowe hurt: Star Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe left the game with an injury to his ribs and did not return.

Turnover problem getting better: Quinn wasn’t good, but the Chiefs are more careful with the ball than when Matt Cassel was the starter. The Chiefs have committed four turnovers in the past five games after committing 29 turnovers in the first eight games. Cassel was a big reason for the turnovers.

What’s next: The Chiefs play at 3-10 Oakland in a game that will have draft-choice implications.
Saturday, Jamaal Charles was in Austin, Texas for the funeral of a family member, ending an incredibly sad and confusing week.

Sunday, in Cleveland, Charles did what he does best. He ran 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead over the Browns.

Charles and several other members of the Chiefs’ team flew to Cleveland on Saturday after attending the funeral of Kansandra M. Perkins. Perkins, 22, was murdered by her boyfriend Jovan Belcher, a starting linebacker on the Chiefs, last Saturday. Belcher then went to the team’s facility and killed himself. The team went to a memorial service for Belcher on Wednesday.

The tragedy was especially difficult for Charles. Perkins was the cousin of Charles’ wife, Whitney. Charles and his wife introduced Belcher and Perkins.

For Charles to be able to even suit up in the past two games is an accomplishment. For him to excel, is special.

In other AFC West news:

CBS Sports reports the Raiders won’t suffer financial issues if they cut linebacker Rolando McClain, He is eligible to return to the team Monday. If he is not cut, the belief is McClain may be inactive for the final three games of the season and then cut in the offseason.

The Chiefs released offensive lineman Hayworth Hicks and promoted wide receiver Josh Bellamy from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
The Kansas City Chiefs just announced they have formed a trust for the 3-month-old daughter of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra M. Perkins.

The trust has been established through contributions from the Hunt family as well as from players, coaches and staff to help Zoey Michelle Belcher. Jovan Belcher killed Perkins at their home and then killed himself at the team’s facility last Saturday.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and everyone affected by the heartbreaking events of last Saturday,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. ”As we continue to struggle with the emotional pain from the tragedy, the Chiefs family is focused on helping 3-month-old Zoey Michelle Belcher as she faces the challenge of growing up without the support of her parents. Zoey will always be a part of the Chiefs family, and we hope that this trust will help to ensure she has the resources necessary as she grows up.”

According to the team, contributions may be sent to:

Zoey Belcher Trust

UMB Bank – Attn: Trust Division

P.O. Box 419226

Kansas City, MO 64179

Any checks should be made payable to:

UMB Bank, N.A., Trustee of the Zoey Michelle Belcher Irrevocable Trust.

Final Word: AFC West

December, 7, 2012
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Three nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

[+] EnlargeRomeo Crennel, Clark Hunt
Zumapress/Icon SMIThen-Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel gets a hug from team CEO Clark Hunt after an emotional win Dec. 2, 2012, the day after Belcher's murder-suicide.
Watching the Chiefs’ emotions: It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs react in this game. They got their second win of the season in Week 13, beating Carolina 27-21 at home in a contest charged with emotion. A day earlier, starting linebacker Jovan Belcher took his own life in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli after he killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. What will the Chiefs be like at Cleveland on Sunday? Will raw emotion still fuel this team? A week has passed, but the grief is still heavy -- and it will be that way for a long time. It might do the Chiefs good to go on the road, where they can further bond. It was important that they were home last week, but this could be the next part of the healing process.

Pittsburgh has not been kind to San Diego: The 4-8 Chargers have lost seven of eight games and are one defeat from securing their first losing record in nine years. If history is any indication, it won’t get easier Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Steelers are 14-0 all-time at home against the Chargers in the regular season.

Chargers need to stop the run: When the defense struggles, San Diego has a difficult time winning. That will be a key Sunday at Pittsburgh. The Chargers are 0-5 this season when they allow more than 115 rush yards.

D.J. Williams might get start

December, 5, 2012
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It looks like D.J. Williams might get his first start of the season.

His outstanding replacement, Wesley Woodyard, is doubtful to play Thursday at Oakland. Woodyard, who leads the division with 100 tackles, was hurt Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Williams has been active for the past three games after serving a nine-game NFL suspension. Williams was a mainstay of the Denver defense until this season. Also, receiver Brandon Stokley is questionable with hip and wrist injuries. He missed the Tampa Bay game.

Update: The Broncos have ruled Woodyard out of the game.

For Oakland, defensive tackle Richard Seymour will miss his fifth straight game with knee and hamstring problems. As expected, Oakland coach Dennis Allen returned to the team Wednesday. He left the tem Sunday night to be say his final goodbyes to his father, Grady Allen. Grady died Tuesday at the age of 66.

In other AFC West news:

Here are the Chargers’ tackle options for Sunday at Pittsburgh: Reggie Wells, Kevin Haslam and practice squadder Kevin Hughes. Two will start with starters Jeromey Clary and Mike Harris out. I’d guess Haslam at left tackle, Wells (who was signed Wednesday) at right tackle, and Hughes is promoted and is a backup. Yes, it is going to be a tough, tough situation at Pittsburgh.

In an Insider piece, Pro Football Focus has a look at the NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidacy of Denver linebacker Von Miller.

Elizabeth Merrill’s Hot Read on the tragedy in Kansas City is a must-read. Meanwhile, the Chiefs attended a memorial service for starting linebacker Jovan Belcher on Wednesday. He killed himself at the team facility after killing his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins on Saturday morning.

AFC West Stock Watch

December, 5, 2012
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FALLING

The run game in San Diego: The Chargers offense is lethargic, and a big reason why is the inability to run the ball successfully. In Sunday's loss to Cincinnati, the Chargers simply gave up. They ran the ball 11 times in 59 offensive plays. Wasn’t Ryan Mathews supposed to be a big part of this offense?

Oakland’s offense: The Raiders are strange offensively. They rack up the passing yards, but they don’t score much. Carson Palmer has thrown for the seventh-most yards in the league -- yet Oakland is tied for 23rd in scoring, at just 19.6 points per game. Obviously, the passing yardage means little.

The Chargers in general: The Chargers are simply floundering. They have lost seven of the past eight games and are one loss from registering their first losing season since 2003. They have blown four double-digit leads in the second half and just look incapable of winning.

RISING

Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs coach: Crennel might not be the Chiefs coach in a month. Right now, it doesn’t matter. Crennel deserves so much credit for leading his team to a victory Sunday over Carolina in an unfathomable situation. Arguably, no NFL coach has ever faced the emotional game-day challenge Crennel did Sunday. A day after he watched starting linebacker Jovan Belcher take his own life after killing his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, Crennel rallied his team for its second victory of the season. Crennel is a good man, a strong man, and it was on display Sunday.

The chance for help coming to the AFC West: Kansas City is on pace for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, the Raiders are pace for the No. 3 pick and the Chargers are on pace for No. 6. The Chiefs will look at quarterback (not a great class) first, Oakland will take the best defender available (in a strong defensive class) and the Chargers will likely look for offensive-line help first.

Peyton Manning’s influence in Denver: There is no doubting Manning’s importance to this team. It was on full display Sunday when the Broncos clinched the AFC West title in Manning’s first season in Denver. He does so much: He talked coaches into challenging a call, and they won the challenge. He successfully quieted the raucous crowd when it was doing the wave, and he hit defensive tackle Mitch Unrein for a touchdown pass after weeks of teaching the 291-pounder to beat safeties on pass routes.

Brady Quinn responded for Chiefs

December, 3, 2012
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Brady Quinn had the best Total QBR season of any Kansas City Chiefs quarterback in the past five seasons Sunday in an emotional 27-21 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Quinn was efficient, patient and timely in his first win as a starting quarterback in three years.

Good for Quinn and it gives him momentum for the rest of the season. Still, it is a long shot that he'll be in the mix to be the starter next season. But if he keeps this up, he could make a case to at least stick around and compete.

Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles and his wife Whitney released a statement about the murder-suicide committed by linebacker Jovan Belcher. Belcher killed his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins and then killed himself Saturday. Whitney Charles and Perkins were cousins and Jamaal Charles and Whitney Charles introduced Perkins to Belcher.

In other AFC West news, catching up on a travel day:

An unnamed Denver Broncos player told CBS Sportsline that Tim Tebow is not an NFL quarterback. This is news? That’s why Denver traded him. That game is over.

Denver coach John Fox said Monday that he doesn’t think the ankle injury suffered by linebacker Wesley Woodyard on Sunday is serious. He may have a chance to play Thursday night at the Oakland Raiders.

Former Kansas City and Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt will reportedly work out for the Houston Texans after being cut by the Chiefs last month. He went from a starter to a player on the street for a month and counting.

The Buffalo Bills cut middle linebacker Kirk Morrison on Monday. He did not play at all this season. Morrison was traded to Jacksonville in 2010 after Oakland drafted Rolando McClain with the No. 8 pick.

Now with McClain having one game of a team suspension to serve and him possibly not playing for the team again, could Morrison be a possibility in Oakland for the rest of this season? The Raiders seem happy with Omar Gaither for the time being and Morrison did not play for this Oakland regime. Since he hasn't played yet thi season, I don’t see him as a priority.

 

Kansas City Chiefs: Moving on

December, 3, 2012
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Here are some areas the Kansas City Chiefs need to focus on after a 27-21 home win over Carolina on Sunday:

Recap: The Chiefs won their second game of the season, just a day after a horrific tragedy. Saturday, starting linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins in front of his mother and then he went to the team’s facility (adjacent to Arrowhead Stadium) and killed himself in front of general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs. The emotional win was the Chiefs’ first home victory of the season after an 0-6 start at Arrowhead. They snapped an eight-game losing streak, which was the longest current losing streak in the league.

Biggest area to fix: Third-down defense. Carolina converted on third down 6-of-10 times. Few things undo a defense like surrendering on third down.

Biggest area to build on: Unity. The Chiefs clearly aren’t going anywhere this season, but perhaps this horrible situation will galvanize this team for a strong finish. Sunday’s effort certainly was impressive.

What to watch for: The Chiefs play at Cleveland. It will be a reunion for Crennel as he coached the Browns from 2005-08.

Wrap-up: Chiefs 27, Panthers 21

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
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A look at an emotional win for the Kansas City Chiefs.

What it means: Oh, it means so much. This has to be one of the most memorable, emotional days in franchise history. The Chiefs won their second game of the season, just a day after a horrific tragedy. Saturday, starting linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins, and then he went to the team’s facility (adjacent to Arrowhead Stadium) and killed himself in front of general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs. There was a lot of talk that the game shouldn’t be played. But the Chiefs decided they wanted to play. This is just a game and it doesn’t change anything, but for three hours, it did help in some way. It was the Chiefs’ first home win of the season after starting 0-6 there. They snapped an eight-game losing streak, which was the longest current losing streak in the league.

Charles has big game despite major sadness: The tragedy had to hit Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles especially hard. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Perkins was a cousin of Charles’ wife and they introduced Perkins to Belcher, who Charles was close with. Despite the incredible grief, Charles had 127 yards on 27 carries.

Quinn is effective: Kansas City quarterback Brady Quinn was 19-of-23 for 201 yards. It was perfect game management and what the team wants from him. It was Quinn’s first win as a starting quarterback in three years.

Streak is over: The Chiefs scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game Sunday. That hadn’t happened since 2010.

Touchdown party: Peyton Hillis, Tony Moeaki and Jon Baldwin all scored their first touchdowns of the season for Kansas City.

Milestone for Bowe: Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe passed the great Otis Taylor for third on the Chiefs’ all-time receptions list. Bowe now has 412 career catches.

What’s next: Crennel goes back to Cleveland as the Chiefs meet the Browns.

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