In case you haven’t heard, there’s something going on with the Kansas City Chiefs to distract them from the playoffs. I’m sure it wasn’t designed that way, but that’s what’s happening. I’m sure the players aren’t too distracted, and I’m sure the coaching staff could give “two rips,” but the story is there nonetheless.
Cheryl Shepherd, mother of former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, has filed a lawsuit against the Kansas City Chiefs for “wrongful death” suit.
I don’t need to go into great detail, I’m sure, as just about every Addict will always remember the day December 1, 2012. It was the exclamation point to a horrible season, but it wasn’t anything having to do with football. Belcher, apparently distraught and upset, shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins nine times before driving to the Chiefs training facility and ending his life with a single gun shot to the head in front of then head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
It was a horrible day. Not only were two lives taken, but an infant girl was orphaned. It was a tragedy beyond description.
Now, Shepherd says the Chiefs are to blame because they didn’t treat his concussions and inform him of the risks of playing football. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
I have vocally opposed the “weakening of the sport” as I’ve seen it over the past ten years. The game we once loved filled with bone-jarring hits has really gone to the way side. Never again will we see a guy like Ronnie Lott lining up a receiver coming across the middle of the field, only to “tee him up” and try to take his head off. It’s just not the game any more. The NFL, led by commissioner Roger Goodell has made “player safety” his number one priority and done away with things like that.
So what’s my point?
I don’t think the Belcher tragedy was caused as much by head trauma and untreated concussions as it was by a “thug-life” culture and the ease to turn to violence.
Before we go any further, I’ll tell you this won’t be a Bob Costas-esque rant on gun control and the evils of owning a firearm. What I will tell you is that while chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE is very real and affects everyone from professional athletes to military personnel who survive improvised explosive device attacks, I think using it as an end-all, be-all excuse for why bad things happen is irresponsible and flat out wrong.
Going back to the players of old, in the days before collective bargaining agreements and so-called “player safety” rules, there were a lot of concussions and head injuries.
Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers and Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana suffered a total of eight concussions during his storied career. Eight. Never once did we hear about Joe beating his wife Jennifer or picking up a gun and shooting her nine times. The guy who replaced Montana in the City by the Bay had seven diagnosed concussions during his career and he appears well enough to talk football every Monday as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football team.
Why didn’t these guys take a gun and shoot their wives or girlfriends or baby mommas? If concussions and head trauma are the causes of all the evil in the world, why didn’t these guy who have repeatedly been hit in the head, and suffered the injuries to prove it, done evil things?
I’ll tell you why. Because they’re not evil people.
Does that mean I think Belcher was an evil person? That’s not what I’m saying necessarily, but a bump on the head or not, people don’t just go pick up a gun and start killing people. The seed for that has to already be there.
Belcher had a violent past. Didn’t know that? I hadn’t really heard it reported much either. It seemed nobody wanted to “speak ill of the dead.” I can respect that, but I also think people should have the whole story to be able to make up their minds.
But it’s been a year, so I’ll say it now. Belcher had a violent past. He was particularly violent when it came to women.
Multiple sources have reported on a 2006 incident at the University of Maine where Belcher played his college football involving the late linebacker and a window. More precisely, Belcher nearly lost his thumb when he put his hand through the window over a fight with a girlfriend. Doesn’t quite sound like the man described by his mother who is blaming the murder suicide wholly on football and the Kansas City Chiefs.
There were two other incidents in Belcher’s early life that involved women and violence leading up to last December 1st. And that’s my point.
You can get a concussion and it can do things to you. As I said earlier, I’m not discounting CTE or the effects it has on the human brain. But it’s not mind control and this isn’t a Hollywood movie. CTE doesn’t unlock a whole different personality. It’s not the key to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The propensity for violence has to be there.
It’s why people with CTE who kill others and/or themselves do it. It’s why WWE Superstar Chris Benoit killed his son and his wife and then himself. Do you think he wasn’t a violent person? How about Junior Seau, the late San Diego Chargers linebacker who killed himself in May of 2012? Chiefs fans know all too well how violent that man could be.
Montana and Young haven’t killed their wives because they’re not
violent people. Countless others haven’t done it because they’re not violent people. Does CTE exist? Absolutely it does and it’s a terrible thing, that when recognized should be treated to prevent further brain trauma. However, as Cheryl Sheppard indicates in her suit, it’s not the reason Jovan Belcher took Kassandra Perkins’ and his own life last December.
There is nobody to blame for that but Jovan Belcher.