Saturday, December 1, 2012
Utter sadness in Kansas City
By Bill Williamson
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?
Chiefs 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.