Yesterday, Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend (Kasandra Perkins), drove to the Chiefs practice facility, thanked GM Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel for allowing him to be a Chief, and then shot himself in the head. The couple’s 3 month old daughter is now parentless.
Today, yards away from the site of Belcher’s suicide, the 1-10 Chiefs will play host to the 3-8 Panthers in a football game that now doubles down on the term “meaningless”.
Why are they playing? Well, some will say that both the team and the city need a distraction from this tragedy. They’ll say that the team captains wanted to play and that there was no dissent among the players — though Steve Breaston’s instagram account begs to differ. Those people will say that the league is simply respecting the player’s wishes, and maybe they are, but it still feels like the wrong move.
Football is the last thing that matters in the aftermath of something like this, especially when the game could simply be moved to Monday or Tuesday with little real difficulty.
We hear all about the hazards of players playing through pain and injury, and how the league and the Commissioner take player health seriously and then Goodell sits on his hands here and lets the warrior mentality prevail? This is a moment that begs for intervention from an un-shy Commissioner in the name of the players mental well being, a moment that the Chiefs cannot play through and a tragedy that will take some time to work through. The show must not go on today, but sadly it seems like it will.