The Kansas City Chiefs will still take to the field today at Arrowhead Stadium, despite the murder-suicide involving three-year starter Jovan Belcher, but his teammates are trying to make sense out of a crime that until Saturday was incomprehensible to them.
Belcher was a much-admired football player, who came to the team as a virtually unknown player from a small school and showed many people that even though the team wasn't winning on the field, he knew how to be a champion.
He worked hard to be on the team, and his fellow teammates were astounded by his strength and drive. According to the Kansas City Star, Belcher was known as the guy who beat his fellow linebackers down the field every time, whether it was calisthenics or sprints.
And his teammates are in shock after Belcher shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, the mother of their three-month-old daughter, at their Kansas City home before coming to the team's practice facility and shooting himself in front of his coach, Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
He was only 25 years old.
And as his career was growing, and he stared in 10 of the Chiefs' first 11 games this season, the people closest to Belcher were stunned as news of the deaths spread.
So when news of the murder-suicide spread across the country Saturday morning, those who knew Belcher the longest were in a state of shock.
Former college teammate Raibonne Charles, who played with Belcher at the University of Maine, said he was stunned because the linebacker gave no sign of the tragedy about to happen.
This wasn't forthcoming of his character. Jovan is a very passionate, very emotional person, and you could tell that by watching him play the game. But this is a shock to us all. I just crumbled inside. He was such an inspiration to me as a player. He was able to accomplish through his hard work and overcome so much.
Belcher's agent, Joe Linta, said his client was a "happy, proud father. This is shocking. Something went crazy wrong, and we'll probably never know what it was."
He came to my youth clinics in the offseason and worked with kids. He was a gracious, unselfish, hard-working, dedicated kid " very, very caring of some of the underprivileged kids who came to the clinics. I saw him in a real positive way.
And his fellow players on the Chiefs will take the field today with many questions in their mind. Quarterback Brady Quinn said he's stunned by the death of a guy he considered an inspiration and a friend.
Jovan was one of those guys who was friendly to everybody. It wasn't like he closed himself off or wasn't cordial. He was there every day in the stretch line, and he was always talking to the quarterbacks, talking trash to us sometimes, joking with us back and forth. He was one of the guys who was a leader on the team. He would step up and say something to us or try to motivate us no matter what it was, whether it was what he expected out of the offense or what he expected out of the defense. Even during the short period of time I was on the team, he was one of those guys who was able to reach out and be accessible to guys. He made me feel part of the team right away.
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