There are times as writers, reporters and analysts when the game doesn't matter. Today is one of those days.
Amid reports that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend and then himself in front of Chiefs personnel, the first reaction and priority should be a humbled prayer or thought for all those involved.
The tragedy supersedes football.
How the Kansas City Chiefs can heal from this terrible situation will be something the NFL and the organization must unfortunately deal with. The Chiefs are scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers at home tomorrow, a game to which the Panthers say they've been told to travel to as normal. The status of the game remains very much up in the air as of this writing.
There is no precedent in the NFL for playing a game the day after team personnel witness the end of a murder-suicide. General manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel can reach out to NFL coaches who have gone through similar situations. Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was murdered in-season, and the Redskins played the following Sunday. Head coach Joe Gibbs can be a valuable resource to the Chiefs as they struggle in this moment.
This story hits closer to home for me, and I would encourage any readers to please think of the families involved and not the game of football at this time. On October 9, 2012, a longtime friend of mine shot his wife and then himself. It was a tragedy that shook our community to its core.
In the moments, days, weeks and now months since, the loss of those two lives echoes daily. He wasn't an NFL player, but I can relate to the feeling of loss and how dark of a cloud I was in after the news was shared with me. Having to walk into a locker room, where Belcher won't be, and suit up to play a game that Belcher won't play in may be the right way for some players to grieve his loss, but there will be others who simply won't be able to deal with the many emotions surrounding the team.
Much remains unknown at this time, and out of respect for all those involved, it's important to not rush to report news. Whether or not the Chiefs play Sunday seems trivial, as this tragic end to two lives is much bigger than a game. Helping the players and team staff grieve should be the priority of all involved. Whether or not there is a football game played Sunday should be a decision that Pioli and Crennel make, not one the league hands them.
Whether you or someone you know should ever feel hopeless, or are thinking of hurting yourself or another, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
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