AFC West: Kasandra M. Perkins

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.


Kansas CIty Chiefs: Moving On

December, 10, 2012
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

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.

Final Word: AFC West

December, 7, 2012
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
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

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.


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
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
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

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.

Clark Hunt discusses tragedy

December, 2, 2012

The Kansas City Chiefs released a transcript of a media briefing with team owner Clark Hunt on Sunday as he discussed the murder-suicide involving starting linebacker Jovan Belcher and his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins:

Opening statement: “It's been a rough 24 hours for our family and the entire organization. We have so many guys on the team and the coaching staff who are really, really hurting.”

On the state of mind of head coach Romeo Crennel, general manager Scott Pioli and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs: “I spent the evening last night at the team hotel with them. I wanted to be there with the team, with the coaches, to let them know that I love them and that I know what they are going through. Particularly for the guys in the parking lot when Jovan took his life -- I know this has to be incredibly difficult. We have a lot of players that are really struggling, people who have spent countless hours with Jovan for several years, the linebacking group in particular. I just know it is going to be a very difficult day. I told them all we can do in a situation like this is pull together as a family and support each other.”

Where were you yesterday when the incident occurred? Were you in town? “Scott called me from the parking lot shortly after the incident took place, and I was informed at that time. I flew up in the afternoon to be with the team last night.”

On this tragedy compared to other losses suffered by the organization: “I spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the other losses the organization has suffered and no two of them are the same. Yesterday there were two victims; we lost two members of the Chiefs family. Kasandra was part of our Chiefs Women’s Organization and had done things in the community with the CWO group. They have a daughter now, Zoey, who is an orphan, and I just imagine how difficult that is going to be.”

Did the team give any thought to not playing this game? Did you talk to the league about postponing? “I had a number of conversations yesterday with Commissioner [Roger] Goodell, and at the end of the day, I decided to leave it up to Coach Crennel and the team. I asked Romeo to call the captains and ask the captains whether or not they felt we should go through with the game. Of course, the captains had been in conversation with their teammates, and they unanimously believed that the right thing to do was to play the game. So, that's how the decision was made.”

How eerie is this day today? “It's just different. I think you mentioned earlier, there's really nothing you can do to prepare for this. It's tough and, again, I come back to the fact that the guys rally around each other to make it through the day.”

What do you expect from the team today? “Honestly, I don't know. There are not a lot of examples like this that you can point to. I know they'll be out there battling for each other, but beyond that, I really can't say.”

Wholesale changes in San Diego?

December, 2, 2012
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Sunday morning that San Diego general manager A.J. Smith and Norv Turner’s futures are likely connected.

Thus, there very well could be wholesale changes after the season. Both men were given a reprieve last year. That likely won’t happen this year, barring a major turnaround.

Mortensen reported a likely replacement for Smith would be San Diego director of player personnel Jimmy Raye. Then, Mortensen reported, college scouting director John Spanos likely would become the director of player personnel.

These moves all sound plausible as it appears major change is on the horizon in San Diego.

In other AFC West news:

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Kasandra M. Perkins was a cousin of the wife of Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles and she was introduced to Jovan Belcher through her cousin. Belcher shot and killed Perkins and then killed himself Saturday morning.

The Oakland Tribune reported Oakland owner Mark Davis told coach Dennis Allen the current state of the 3-8 “is not good enough” on the team flight home from Cincinnati last week. It is another sign of Davis losing patience. Last month, Davis expressed frustrations to reporters after a loss. If the losing continues in Oakland, we just might see some changes in Oakland again.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the NFLPA and the Chiefs are talking about starting a fund for the 3-month-old child of Perkins and Belcher.

Schefter is reporting that Oakland starting running back Darren McFadden is not likely to play Sunday against Cleveland. McFadden has been out the past three games with an ankle sprain. He started to practice last week and he should be ready to play next week if he doesn’t play Sunday.

Donald Stephenson is expected to start the second straight game at left tackle for the Chiefs in place of Branden Albert, who has a back injury.

Video: Chiefs prepare to play Panthers

December, 2, 2012

Ed Werder reports from Kansas City where the Panthers are set to take on the Chiefs.

Utter sadness in Kansas City

December, 1, 2012

This has been on my mind all day.

Still, after traveling 1,000 miles, I have yet to reach any comprehension. I have nothing profound to say about the horrible tragedy this morning in Kansas City that has galvanized the NFL world, other than to say I have the same feeling you probably have -- utter sadness.

I awoke this morning to a text saying a Kansas City Chiefs player had killed his girlfriend and then shot himself at the team’s facility. The text said the player involved was linebacker Jovan Belcher.

Like so many at ESPN, I immediately worked the phones in search of more details of this mind-numbing event. As I traveled to Denver, I thought about what I was going to write in this story.

What could I say about this event that no one else is feeling or saying?

[+] EnlargeChiefs fans
John Rieger/US PresswireChiefs fans place a sign outside the team's practice facility, site of Jovan Belcher's suicide.
Thus, I want to join the masses, and express my thoughts and grief for the family of Belcher’s victim, Kasandra M. Perkins, who died at 22, and the couple's infant daughter. Lives were ended; others were ruined. So terrible.

I also feel bad for Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel. The Chiefs' general manager and coach were talking to Belcher, according to police, just before the player walked away and shot himself.

What a terrible and emotional event to witness. This day will be with these men for the rest of their lives; they will never be able to shake it. Pioli and Crennel went to work Saturday morning to put the finishing touches on another game week in a miserable season. Then they were thrust into the middle of a crisis involving a young man they had grown to care for.

I know Pioli and Crennel are not popular figures in Kansas City these days because of the team’s 1-10 season. There is a strong chance Chiefs ownership will make wholesale changes in a month.

What happens professionally will take its course.

I expect Kansas City fans to loudly support their hurting team Sunday when the Chiefs host Carolina at Arrowhead Stadium. It should go without saying that I hope there are no airplane flyovers imploring that people be fired, no fan “blackouts” at the game. The voice of the understandably angry Chiefs fan has been heard, and it has been noted.

Sunday will be about beginning the healing process and honoring those left behind from this senseless crime. Be a Chiefs fan Sunday. At the core, that’s what you are.

I know some people don’t understand why or how the game can be played. But the Chiefs’ coaches and team captains reportedly played a major role in the decision to go ahead with it. If the Chiefs want to play, I think we all can support that choice.

I’ve been asked a lot Saturday about what Belcher was like. I didn’t know him. I never met him or interviewed him. I knew he was an overachieving player who ended up starting 44 career games after going undrafted.

I know his agent, Joe Linta, very well. He has a well-deserved reputation for representing solid-citizen types. He had always spoken highly of Belcher to me. Linta expressed disbelief Saturday.

Disbelief. That’s all you can feel when something so unspeakable happens.