I know I don't normally write about the NFL or American football (or as I like to call it, pointy-ball), but the events that unfolded in my hometown on Saturday compelled me to say something.
The murder-suicide involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher is no doubt a senseless tragedy. Family, friends, teammates, coaches and other team personnel will be feeling the pain from this for a long time to come.
I won't pretend that I can explain what happened better than anybody else can. As Mayor Sly James said on the local news after the shootings, there's only one person who really knows what happened and unfortunately, he can't tell us.
However, as someone who battles struggles with his mental health every day without the aid of the medication I can't afford, I can almost understand. Having been in that deep, dark place where suicide seems to be an option worth considering, it's a case of, "Been there, almost done that."
Living life while battling mental illness is hard enough, but add in the pressures of being a player in the NFL (or any other high pressure job), and it becomes easier for me to understand how this happened.
Now, before you say that I'm trying to make Belcher out to be the only victim here, I understand that he's not. He's one of many victims of this string of violent events.
His girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, and mother of his almost three-month old daughter, is the most obvious victim here. The baby girl having to grow up without knowing either of her parents is a victim.
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel (and other team personnel) are also victims, having watched Belcher shoot himself in the head.
Belcher's teammates are also victims, having lost one of their friends. According to the Kansas City Star, the wife of running back Jamaal Charles was Perkins' cousin, so she's also a victim.
The Belcher and Perkins families are also victims. My heart goes out to all of them.
I believe it was Charles Barkley who once said that athletes were not role models. Belcher's proof that they're all too human.
Most of the reaction that I've seen has been respectful, sending out prayers to the victims and their families, that kind of thing.
The Cauldron, the supporters group for Sporting Kansas City, tweeted this:
If you are hurting, please get help. National Suicide Prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)— The Cauldron (@KCCauldron) December 1, 2012
Now, some of the internet reaction, like it seems to be with every other thing online, was cold and heartless. Some people joked about having to cut Belcher from their fantasy teams and wondered who to replace him with.
My favorite reaction to that was from ESPN analyst Matthew Berry who tweeted:
Please stop asking me about fantasy implications of KC tragedy. I won't answer. Instead, go call someone you love & tell them you miss them.— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) December 1, 2012
As players often say after major injuries (the kind where games are stopped for several minutes while the injured is attended to), this puts things in perspective and that there are more important things than the games they play.
To echo that sentiment and the one from Matthew Berry, after you get done reading this, I would like to ask you to do something for me. Either call or email a good friend that you haven't spoken to in a while. Tell them how much you love them.
You never know when you might not get another chance.
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