It’s not fun playing a meaningless game in December. At best it’s high-paying manual labor. It’s hard work and it’s emotionally draining on its own. Playing the game after a great tragedy seems unimaginable, and that’s just what the Chiefs will do on Sunday.
No one would have blamed the Chiefs if they wanted to postpone the game a day or longer, but they chose to play (via Dan Hanzus of NFL.com) and we should honor that decision. The only people who know the right thing to do are the Chiefs. Not the media or the league, but the team.
Perhaps the Chiefs realized that postponing the game a day, a week or a month isn't going to make it any easier for them to look over and see an empty locker. It’s an empty locker that will remind them of Jovan Belcher’s infant daughter who will grow up knowing that her father shot and killed her mother before turning the gun on himself.
There will be players that regret the decision to play the game and there will be players that begin to heal through it—we all grieve differently. There is no right or wrong, but a decision had to be made and the Chiefs made the only one that made sense to them.
When I was a teenager my grandmother passed away. I was very close to her and she was a very important person in my young life. When she was in the intensive care unit my family urged me to go on a pre-planned school ski trip.
Amidst a family tragedy I had to make a decision. Like the NFL, there were logistical nightmares if I didn’t go. I went, and it’s a decision I still regret. I’d never get to talk to my grandmother again.
What I have come to realize is that the decision to go on that trip was not right or wrong. My family wanted to get me out of the hospital waiting room and my grandmother’s condition seemed to be improving. My family had good intentions and I made the decision to go, but I’ll never forget that decision for the rest of my life.
The Chiefs will play the game, but it’s not good, bad, right or wrong—it just is. Sometimes a decision is just a decision and what happens after that is going to happen. So the decision to play the game is irrelevant because it’s a problem without an answer.
The Chiefs will never forget the events of Saturday or the game Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they can’t heal. Playing a game on Sunday isn’t going to make things worse and it’s also not going to make things better—at least not right away.
What the game will do is start the grieving process. The Chiefs will play with heavy heart this Sunday and every Sunday for the rest of the year, doing what many of us can’t imagine doing after such a tragedy—playing a meaningless football game.