2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Portrait emerges of Chiefs player's tragic end

    2012-12-03 17:24

(Eds: AP Video. With AP Photos.)
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Jovan Belcher walked off the field after his final practice, laughing and joking with Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith about who would get into the game the most on Sunday afternoon.

The two walked down the half-dozen steps and into the training complex, past the inspirational signs that coach Romeo Crennel regularly posts on the wall, and through locker-room doors.

Never could anybody imagine it would be Belcher's last time.

``We was joking, having fun,'' Smith recalled quietly. ``I'm going to miss him.''

Friends and family of Belcher and his slain girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, tried to come to grips Monday with the horrible events of the weekend. As they did, a portrait of the 25-year-old player began to emerge, that of a man devoted to his family, who cherished his daughter and loved football after making it to the NFL against long odds. Still, the question remained: What would drive him to gun down the mother of his baby girl and then take his own life?

``I didn't see anything at all,'' said his close friend and fellow Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who couldn't bring himself to refer to Belcher in the past tense.

``Jovan is the definition of a teammate. He's going to give 100 percent every time,'' Johnson said. ``He and I have grown really close since he's been on the team, and this is devastating.''

Investigators were still searching for a motive behind Saturday's shootings.

Belcher shot the 22-year-old Perkins multiple times in a home not far from where he played, and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, where he was confronted by Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli. The two of them said they never felt in danger, and that Belcher thanked them for all they'd done for him. As police arrived, Belcher slipped behind a car and put the gun to his head.

Nobody from the Chiefs said that Belcher showed any signs of depression or other personal problems. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt spoke to team doctors and coaches and, according to him, they said Belcher had no history of concussions.

He was listed on a November 2009 injury report as limited in practice with a head injury, but he returned to the field a few days later against Oakland.

The NFL has put more emphasis on diagnosing and treating head injuries in recent years. Part of it stems from high-profile suicides involving players such as Junior Seau, and part is a response to numerous lawsuits filed against the league on behalf of players who blame head trauma for depression and other problems.

Autopsy and toxicology reports may indicate whether drugs or alcohol was involved. Those results are expected in six to eight weeks.

Belcher was never a star on the Chiefs though he played enough so that he was well known around town. He was seen at concerts, and both he and Perkins did volunteer work in the community.

He was an accomplished wrestler who played offense and defense at West Babylon (N.Y.) High School, and chose to attend the University of Maine. The university said Belcher bloodied an arm after ``reportedly'' putting it through a window in 2006, an incident referred to school officials for "disorderly conduct and restitution.'' A former teammate, Mike Brusko, told the Bangor Daily News he blamed the incident on alcohol.

Family was of the utmost importance to Belcher, friends and former teammates said, and it was little surprise to anyone that he graduated with a degree in childhood development.

``I used to ask him questions about everything, and he always told me the funniest things,'' said Jerron McMillian, a safety for the Green Bay Packers and Belcher's teammate at Maine.

``He laughed a lot,'' McMillian said, ``but he was always serious about his work. He'll play with you, but when it's time to work, he's tuned in, he's focused, and he's really emotional about how he does things.''

Only a small percentage of undrafted players make it in the NFL, but Belcher managed to beat the odds. At one point during his initial training camp, Pioli told members of the Chiefs' front office, ``I really like this guy. I really think this guy can be a player.''

He wound up playing in all 16 games as a rookie, even starting three times at linebacker. He became a full-time starter in 2010, when the Chiefs won a surprising AFC West championship.

His base salary this past season was more than $1.9 million.

``He overcame a lot of things - position changes, small school. He overcame all those things through the force of his indomitable spirit,'' said Dwayne Wilmot, who coached Belcher at Maine and remained in touch over the years. ``He lit up when he spoke about his mom, or hugged his family after games. His love for them fueled him to reach the heights he was able to reach.''

Belcher met Perkins through Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and his wife, Whitney, a cousin of the slain woman. Perkins was active in the Chiefs' women's organization, and the two of them recently had a baby girl.

``I was so excited when he became a father,'' Wilmot told the AP in a phone interview, ``because he would be a great father.''

Kansas City police said Belcher and Perkins had been arguing recently, and a friend of the couple, Brianne York, said the root of the argument was that Belcher ``sometimes he would just be down in his man cave or whatever,'' and Perkins wanted to spend more time as a family.

Other friends said Perkins was out late at a concert before their final argument took place.

``It doesn't seem that that would be the end of their story,'' York said. ``It just seems like if things didn't work out, they would have gone their separate ways.''

The reality is that nobody may ever know exactly what happened in those final hours, minutes, seconds.

``I think what we try to do is explain the unexplainable,'' said Chiefs linebacker Andy Studebaker, who was close to Perkins as well. ``This is such an unexplainable event that I don't think we could easily get through it with a single-sentence explanation.''

Unexplainable, and with devastated families left behind.

``I was once told the hardest thing a person can go through is burying their child, so my heart goes out to their families - Kasandra's and Jovan's families,'' Johnson said. ``You can just imagine what they're going through right now, and as a team, we lost a brother. It's going to take time, but life goes on.''

---

Associated Press Writers Heather Hollingsworth and Nancy Armour contributed to this report.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Justin HoustonMar 2 09:52a

Kansas City Chiefs LB Justin Houston had the franchise tag placed on him Monday, March 2, according to a source.

Ndamukong SuhMar 2 09:43a

Detroit Lions impending free-agent DT Ndamukong Suh will not receive the franchise tag Monday, March 2.

LaMarr WoodleyMar 1 07:12p

The Oakland Raiders plan to release DE LaMarr Woodley, a league source said Sunday, March 1. He made just five tackles in six games before his season ended due [ More ]

DeMarco MurrayMar 1 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent RB DeMarco Murray probably will hit the free-agent market since contract talks with him have gone slow, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones. Jones [ More ]

Dez BryantFeb 28 10:12p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is expected to receive the franchise tag by Monday, March 2, but during the NFL Scouting Combine, team owner Jerry Jones said that he [ More ]

DeMarco MurrayFeb 28 09:02p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray could give the team a chance to match any offer he receives during free agency, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones. 'There is [ More ]

Dez BryantFeb 28 08:52p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant will receive the franchise tag by the deadline Monday, March 2, executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed Saturday, Feb. 28. The move will guarantee [ More ]

EJ ManuelFeb 28 02:22p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel still seems to be the No. 1 option at quarterback, for now, with Josh McCown heading to the Cleveland Browns. Buffalo could still add [ More ]

Josh McCownFeb 27 07:52p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown signed a three-year deal Friday, Feb. 27, according to a source. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. McCown completed [ More ]

Josh McCownFeb 27 06:32p

Free-agent QB Josh McCown (Buccaneers) has signed with the Cleveland Browns, according to his agent. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Reggie WayneFeb 27 04:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne (triceps) recently underwent surgery on his triceps and has started his rehab. Wayne still has not decided if he will play in 2015.

Darnell DockettFeb 27 04:22p

Arizona Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett was released Friday, Feb. 27. The Cardinals would like to re-sign Dockett if he is not able to find a better offer from another team.

Brandon GibsonFeb 27 03:42p

Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Gibson was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Stephen BowenFeb 27 03:22p

Washington Redskins DE Stephen Bowen was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 27 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson could be a trade target for the Indianapolis Colts. QB Andrew Luck hasn't had a successful running game behind him so far in Indianapolis. [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 27 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson could be a trade option for the Arizona Cardinals with QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald nearing the end of their careers in [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 27 02:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson could be an option to be traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Peterson is from Palestine, Texas, which is between Dallas and Houston, and he's [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 27 02:12p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman could be the full-time back in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme next season, according tot general manager Thomas Dimitroff. 'My first impression of [ More ]

Robert GeathersFeb 27 01:32p

Cincinnati Bengals DE Robert Geathers was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Greg LittleFeb 27 01:32p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Greg Little was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Chris CantyFeb 27 11:32a

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty was released Friday, Feb. 27. The move saved the team around $2.7 million on the salary cap.

Brian HartlineFeb 27 10:32a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Harry DouglasFeb 27 10:32a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Matt HasselbeckFeb 26 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steven JacksonFeb 26 07:32p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, [ More ]

Travis KelceFeb 26 05:42p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, who led the team with 67 catches and 862 receiving yards in 2014, is expected to be a more prominent part of the [ More ]

Kendall LangfordFeb 26 04:12p

St. Louis Rams DT Kendall Langford was released Thursday, Feb. 26, saving the team $6 million in salary cap space.

Greg HardyFeb 26 02:32p

Carolina Panthers impending free-agent DE Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement after a judge overturned Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension, according to a source.

Theo RiddickFeb 26 02:22p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick likely will be given the chance to earn a bigger role in the offense next season after the team released RB Reggie Bush.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 12:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned after a judge granted a motion from the NFL Players Association to vacate the suspension.

Michael RoosFeb 26 12:02p

Free-agent OT Michael Roos (Titans) has announced his retirement from professional football.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group