Denver Broncos fans are no strangers to tragedy relating to their favorite team. The deaths of Darrent Williams and Kenny McKinley are fresh enough in our minds that the horrific events we are hearing about in the news this morning are somewhat relatable. I would argue, though, that, while tragedy is tragedy, what the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans are beginning to confront is something far more devastating than just death. What occurred this morning will take the franchise years to recover from.
As an NFL player, Jovan Belcher wasn't a household name. I had never even heard of the guy – and I watch a ton of football. But he is famous now – famous for murdering his girlfriend in cold blood, driving to the Chiefs practice facility, shooting himself in front of Romeo Crennel and Scott Paoli and leaving his three-month old daughter orphaned.
To think that some people are wishing him peace is mind boggling. Rot in hell, Jovan Belcher. The man is a murderer first and foremost. What may have led him to act out in this disgusting and unforgivable way will be the subject of much wasted speculation. It simply doesn't matter. That he was upset enough to take his own life, too, doesn't even begin to make Belcher a victim. Sadly, that's already where the National conversation on this killing is headed. Our culture will search for any explanation it can find that will allow people to feel sorry for him.
The Chiefs are supposed to suit up and play football tomorrow! According to Pro Football Talk, the Carolina Panthers have been instructed to make their travel plans as they normally would. The league simply must postpone that game. The Chiefs, and particularly their Head Coach and General Manager, cannot be expected to take the field barely more than twenty-four hours after this senseless tragedy. Hopefully, as the hours pass, the league will come to its senses where tomorrow’s scheduled contest in concerned. It's a meaningless game that doesn’t really even need to be played at all.
As a Broncos fan, I feel for Chiefs fans right now. It's tough enough trying to maintain a level of support for a crumbling franchise. To have something as sickening as this to cope with is more than any fan base deserves. Chiefs fans represent the good in all sports fans. They’ve always done it the right way. The atmosphere in Arrowhead, even when it isn’t full, is among the best anywhere. There’s a genuine 'family' feel to the place, and outsiders are always welcomed with surprising grace by the friendly residents of KC.
My hearts also breaks for Crennel and Paoli. I am assuming that the rumors are true – that they witnessed Belcher taking his own life. It only makes me angrier at him. If it's indeed true, Belcher selfishly foisted his own death onto two men who will never be able to erase the memory of it. Can you imagine watching a man shoot himself in the head? It has to be devastating – one more reason that there’s no way that the team should be expected to walk onto that field tomorrow.