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The Times
  • Bill Althaus: Jovan Belcher incident shows value of life

  • I'm still trying to grasp what happened Saturday morning when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then turned the gun on himself.

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  • I'm still trying to grasp what happened Saturday morning when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then turned the gun on himself.
    After Belcher shot Perkins several times with his mother in the house the couple shared on Crysler Avenue, he then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger after thanking Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs for the chance to play with the NFL team.
    This unimaginable murder-suicide left many victims, including the couple’s 3-month-old daughter, Zoey.
    Less than 24 hours after the shootings, I tuned into NFL pregame shows and listened to local call-in radio programs, and I was amazed at how Belcher was often portrayed as the victim.
    They talked about the pressure that comes from playing in the NFL and hinted at personal problems between Belcher and Perkins that had allegedly been escalating over the past few weeks.
    I don't know if any of that speculation is true, but I do know that Belcher is a murderer who chose to make his daughter an orphan and his girlfriend a victim rather than stand up and seek help.
    What a cowardly exit for a man who teammates – past and present – spoke of with such reverence.
    I didn’t personally know Jovan Belcher and only spoke with him in postgame interview sessions.
    However, a friend of mine spoke with someone who not only knew Belcher, but was at the site of Saturday morning’s suicide.
    He said that Belcher was a quiet overachiever who worked his way into the starting lineup after being signed as an undrafted free agent four years ago.
    Belcher pulled into the parking lot Saturday morning, and those on hand believed that he was there to pick up something, perhaps tickets for Sunday's game against Carolina.
    He exited his car, and was met by Pioli. The Chiefs general manager then summoned Crennel and Gibbs to the parking lot. Belcher had a gun in his hand throughout the short conversation with the three men.
    Chiefs color analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson said that Pioli told him that he never felt threatened. After the brief conversation, Belcher stepped back from the three men and took his own life as police cars began to arrive on the scene.
    There was talk that the Chiefs game might be postponed, but Crennel met with his team captains and they decided that the best way to begin the healing process would be playing the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
    At first I thought that was a bad decision; but after giving it some thought, it seemed like the right thing to do.
    Page 2 of 2 - I wondered if the team would have a moment of silence for the player who murdered his girlfriend and orphaned his daughter, and I am thankful to say that did not happen.
    Instead, the Chiefs held a silent vigil for all victims of domestic violence – a bold and classy move.
    “It was a tough line to walk considering the circumstances,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said after Sunday’s 27-21 victory over the Panthers. “We talked about it yesterday afternoon. Obviously, a lot of the players were hurting because they lost a teammate and lost a friend. They were interested in doing something to honor his memory.
    “Truthfully, the Chiefs lost two members of our family yesterday. Kasandra had been part of our Chiefs Women's Organization and had done things in the community. My family knew her, all the wives knew her. We wanted to make sure we honored both families. It also brought some attention to the fact that they've got an orphaned daughter, Zoey, who's going to need looking after.”
    Like so many of his teammates, Hunt said there were no signs that Belcher might commit such a heinous act.
    “There really wasn't,” Hunt said. “I've had a chance to visit with our doctors and coaches. He's not someone we've ever had an issue with, in any regard.”
    The one glimmer of good news that comes from this tragedy is that the Chiefs will establish a fund for Zoey, who will never know her mom or dad.
    And that might be the greatest tragedy of all.
    As I write this column, a 10-year-old girl I love like a daughter is defying the odds as she wages her own personal war against a rare form of cancer.
    Ryan Christian, the daughter of former Missouri Mavericks captain Jeff Christian, has never asked “Why me?” and wants to know “if God will know me when I go to heaven.”
    She has undergone countless surgical procedures at St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and is now at her grandma's house in Columbus, Ohio, hoping to celebrate one more Christmas with her mom and dad and her first Christmas with her new baby sister, Tyler.
    She knows that life is too precious to snuff out in a moment of rage.
    I wish Jovan Belcher could have spent a few moments with Ryan Christian, and he might have sensed that life is the most valuable gift any of us will ever receive. While she battles for her life, I can only wonder went wrong with his.
    Contact Bill Althaus at bill.althaus@examiner.net.
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