I've now been in Kansas City for 24 years. Other than the Jayhawks, I haven’t adopted any of the sports teams as my own. In fact, I've often gone the other way, and cheered against them. That’s probably worth a post all its own, and maybe a session with a shrink. But after the tragedy this past weekend, I've gone through my own run of emotions. Like any other decent human being, I fully understand that this has nothing to do with sports. There’s countless people suffering in the wake of what transpired, and everyone should be concerned first and foremost with baby Zoe.
Now, I understand that Jovan Belcher is technically a “murderer,” as I heard him called on the radio this morning. And I’m not, in anyway, trying to lessen what he did. Belcher brutally took the life of another human. But I can’t help but wonder if he suffered from some sort of mental illness. Not that it would make him any less responsible. It’s just how my mind works. When someone does something so crazy, and so out of character, I can’t help but wonder why. Now, we’ll never know what happened in their relationship. Nor do we really have a right to. And there’s nothing, at all, that Kasandra Perkins could have done to deserve that fate. And I hate to make a statement and follow it up with a “but”, but…there are things that can happen in life, that cause a person to snap. Doesn't make the snapping right or just, and it’s not an excuse. But there is a difference between someone snapping and a homicidal maniac.
I think, sadly, that anyone of us, if the circumstances are right (actually, wrong) are capable of snapping and taking a life. Like a perfect storm. Luckily, most of us are never in that situation. And even if we are, and do snap, it’s never okay. But it’s always, absolutely, worth trying to understand. Compassion, even for the unforgivable, is what separates us from being animals. It’s also the best line of defense against similar future incidents.
Anyway, when I first heard they were going to play the game, I was appalled. I understand life goes on, and in most cases, we’d all go to work the next day if it happened at our office. Although, I can’t imagine any boss being made to go in the day after one of his employees took their own life in front of said boss. But this isn't your typical office. There aren't 70,000 fans cheering, booing, drinking or giving even half a damn at my office. No cheerleaders, celebration dances or foam fingers either. What I do, while it isn't life or death, isn't called a “game.” And we don’t say we’re “playing” anything.
Turns out the players made the right call. They knew what was best for them. I've never been more proud of the Chiefs, or more impressed with any coach. I feel that the organization should donate all the revenue for the day to fight domestic violence, suicide prevention as well as set up a trust fund for Zoe. And while I understand some of the players still want to honor their teammate, who still did something completely evil, but just might have been a victim too, in his own way. Hate to speculate, but I can’t help but think he was suffering from some sort of mental illness. So wearing a patch with his number would be flat out wrong. Although a patch with “Zoe” would be fantastic.
It's just impossible to find any kind of silver lining in this story.