With heavy hearts, the Kansas City Chiefs stood together on an emotional Sunday afternoon just one day following two tragic losses. Chiefs Inside Linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins after a verbal altercation early Saturday morning. Belcher would go on to the Arrowhead complex and speak with Scott Pioli, Romeo Crennel, and other coaches before killing himself. Before I go any further, I’m not here to proselytize on human dignity, suicide, or whether or not he deserves to be publicly honored by the team. Suffice it to say, I believe the loss of human life is lamentable under any set of circumstances.
Chiefs officials spoke with the league about whether or not they planned to proceed with Sunday’s scheduled game. Carolina was told by the league to keep their travel plans and it was eventually determined that a postponement was not in the best interest of the NFL. Wide Receiver Steve Breaston was none too happy about the news (commenting on Instagram):
There is no way we should be playing this game tomorrow…
I was invited by a friend to attend the Chiefs-Panthers matchup one week ago. Needless to say, I graciously accepted the invitation. I had been excited about returning to Arrowhead, for the first time since the opener, but Saturday’s tragic events almost made me reconsider going. As with any tragedy, getting back to your routine is a good way to begin the healing process. It was going to be business as usual at One Arrowhead Drive so I decided it would be business as usual for me, as a fan of this football team. My 15-year old son accompanied me to the stadium for his first NFL game experience. The circumstances surrounding the game weren’t exactly ideal for such an important moment, but we decided to go and try to enjoy ourselves anyway.
To my surprise, the team took a diplomatic approach to addressing Saturday’s events. The stadium announcer honored victims of domestic violence with a moment of silence, but promptly moved on with the rest of his pregame agenda (no mention of Belcher’s name). Kansas City won the opening toss and elected to receive the ball. Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll orchestrated a gem of an opening drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run by Peyton Hillis. It was the first touchdown scored on an opening drive all season. In fact, it was the first opening drive touchdown since late December 2010.
Conversely, the Chiefs’ defense didn’t fare as well on their opening series. Carolina made short work of the Chiefs’ defense and scored in just six plays on their first offensive series. Tight End Greg Olsen found a hole in leaky pass coverage and Cam Newton hooked up with him on a 47-yard touchdown pass. That tied the game at 7 and left the Arrowhead crowd wondering how the Chiefs would respond. Eleven plays later, Kansas City extended its lead (10-7). The two teams exchanged leads for most of the game, but the Chiefs were able to hang on to a slim 6-point lead to win.
Kansas City played with a sense of urgency on Sunday. Despite a season marred by penalties and turnovers, they were flagged just once and avoided turning the ball over for the first time this year. A team united by a nightmarish incident with one of their own banded together and played their best game of the season. When all is said and done, this won’t fix the troubled hearts inside the organization. Football is just a game. It could very well be months before members of this organization find peace. For one afternoon though, this team overcame the dark cloud that hung over Arrowhead Stadium. The 46 men active on gameday matured and played an inspired brand of football. With 4 games left to play, it’s unknown if this momentum will spill over into the last quarter of the season. I hope, for their sake, that it will. They need some momentum heading into 2013. More importantly, I pray for peace of mind and closure for everyone involved.
Tell someone you love them today.
Until next time, Addicts!