Chiefs show character in first interviews since horrific murder/suicide

Published On December 3, 2012 | By Arielle Aronson

The Kansas City Chiefs had an incredibly difficult task on their hands Sunday. After the horrific murder/suicide of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher Saturday, the team had to find a way to take the field Sunday and focus solely on their game against the Carolina Panthers.

Many in the media and on social networks called for Sunday’s game to be canceled. It wouldn’t be fair to make devastated teammates play at the same place where a man killed himself the day before, they argued. This was not the time for football. After all, how do you play a game when your friend, a guy who you fought for on the field and embraced in the locker room, a guy who you spoke and laughed with every day, traveled with, ate with, lived with, murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself, leaving his infant daughter orphaned?

On the other hand, maybe the players and coaches needed to play Sunday. Maybe, for a few hours, football could soften the psychological pain of a devastating event. The players and coaches could focus on something they knew, something safe, something regular.

And so the Chiefs took the field and triumphed, winning just their second game of the season despite the distractions they faced and a national spotlight. After the game, it was back to reality, and the Chiefs showed their true character as they spoke to the media for the first time since their worlds were shattered Saturday.

When quarterback Brady Quinn took the podium after the game, he was asked about the emotion in the locker room after the game.

Quinn shook his head and cleared his throat, his eyes slightly glassy.

“It was tough,” Quinn said, his voice gravelly. “I think it was an eerie feeling after a win because you don’t think that you can win in this situation.The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people.

“I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?

“We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us.

“Hopefully people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”

Coach Romeo Crennel, who, along with general manager Scott Pioli and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs, tried to talk to Belcher at the stadium Saturday but unfortunately witnessed Belcher kill himself, appeared remarkably composed as he took the podium after the game Sunday.

“The experience will probably change me, but I’m not changing,” Crennel said. “I’m the same guy every day; that’s been one of my qualities, being the same guy every day. The thing that we have to understand, when any person has an issue or has problems, if they’re not totally honest with you about their issues or their problems, you cannot give them the correct help. I think people have to be honest about what problems they have and how they perceive them and know people perceive things differently.”

Crennel said the team will rely on friends, family and faith to get through this difficult time. He also said he would not comment on what he witnessed Saturday morning because “it was not a pretty sight, so I’m choosing not to talk about it.”

The Chiefs still have many difficult days ahead of them. They will have to endure the funeral of Kasandra Perkins, Belcher’s girlfriend and an active member of the Chiefs’ women’s organization, as well as the funeral for Belcher. They will have to find a way to help Perkins and Belcher’s infant daughter know what it’s like to have a family and be loved. They will have to reconcile themselves with the actions of a close friend and a team leader.

But the Chiefs will continue on — they have to — and as linebacker Derrick Johnson said, they will try to learn from this.

“This situation shows that we need to talk to each other more as men, not just as football players,” Johnson said. “Generally men don’t really show their feelings, we don’t talk about what’s going on and don’t show emotion. To have an act like this to go on that could have been avoided and as a teammate we need to do more making sure the teammate is okay. Jovan was a perfect teammate.”

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About The Author

Arielle Aronson is a sports writer and recent graduate from Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Print Journalism Magna Cum Laude. Arielle has a passion for sports cultivated from growing up with two older brothers. She also enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling.