2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Column: Chiefs got past game, but still must heal

    2012-12-05 02:48

(Eds: Sports Columnist Jim Litke is on vacation. This is a replacement column. With AP Photos.)
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP National Writer

They played a football game in Kansas City the other day.

Even as the headlines fade, the question remains.

Was it the right thing to do given the tragedy that happened 24 hours earlier?

There's no playbook for this sort of grieving. A Chiefs player killed his girlfriend - the mother of their infant child - then turned the gun on himself in front of the head coach and the general manager. The second half of the murder-suicide took place at the team's training complex, right next door to Arrowhead Stadium.

The next day, the Chiefs reported for work in that very stadium for a game against Carolina. Won it, too, for just their second victory of the season. Afterward, everyone talked about the cathartic effect of taking the field - as a team, as a family - in the face of such a heinous act.

But, really, was it proper to play on?

I was downright adamant on the day of the game. No way they should've kicked off. Even got into a spirited debate on social media with some friends.

Now, with a couple of days to reflect, time spent talking to several experts on grieving, I can see the value of playing what was a meaningless game in the standings between two teams going nowhere.

With one big caveat: Please recognize that lasting peace can't be found between the lines.

All those who felt it was necessary to play, from GM Scott Pioli to coach Romeo Crennel to the 53rd man on the roster, need to man up in a different way in the days, weeks and months to come. For the rest of their lives, really, because this is something that will remain with all of them to some degree until their time is up.

Be sure to address what are surely feelings of sadness and anger, maybe even a little guilt. Take time to deal with the questions running through your own mind about why Jovan Belcher did what he did, even if deep down you know the odds of uncovering a logical answer to a senseless crime are slim at best.

``It takes time,'' said Jay Wade, a psychology professor at Fordham University in New York, ``to deal with whatever feelings are associated with this major thing that happened. You can't just say, `Suck it up, go ahead and play the next game.' On the one hand, I think it's understandable they played the next day. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

``But,'' he added, ``later on down the line, if you don't take time to deal with that tragedy, that trauma you've experienced, it probably will affect you for a long time. No doubt.''

All athletes are taught to be strong, football players in particular. On every play, they are attempting to prove the guy across the line is weaker than they are.

But when it comes to dealing with Belcher's crime, a little vulnerability will go a long way for these large men.

``Our culture still creates the mentality that `big boys don't cry, big boys don't talk about sensitive things,''' said James Overholser, who teaches psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and has been doing research on suicides for 25 years. ``That's the real problem. That's what puts males at elevated risk of something like suicide.''

A couple of Atlanta Falcons players were asked Tuesday if they would've wanted to go ahead with the game under similar circumstances. There were no easy answers.

``That's a tough call,'' cornerback Dunta Robinson said. ``I can't even imagine that going on here and how I would respond as a player, but I think as players and as an organization, (the Chiefs) did what they thought was best for them. They went ahead and played the game. They won the football game, so hats off to them for the way they handled it.''

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan went through a double-tragedy during his previous job in Denver. Less than two months apart in 2007, cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting and Damien Nash collapsed and died during a charity basketball game.

``People say, `Hey, maybe you can occupy your mind for at least a few hours and kind of get away from that grieving process if you can,''' Shanahan said. ``But there's not an easy way to deal with it. I've dealt with it a couple of times, and it's as hard as it gets, especially when you're very close to somebody. But it's something you've got to work through, it's part of life. Nobody likes it, but sometimes I think it's therapeutic'' to go ahead and play the game.

But the shared experience of sport can't overshadow what the individual is going through. Todd Farchone, a research professor in the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University, said it's easy to understand how everyone got on board with taking the field in Kansas City, even if that wasn't necessarily the way every one of them would've handled it.

``I can imagine being a fly on the wall in that meeting and hearing all the different perspectives,'' Farchone said. ``Some people, as the decision was being made, probably wanted to do what's best for the team. But people deal with grief in different ways. Some want to get back to work immediately and throw themselves into things they need to do. Others might want to go through a lengthier process, to deal with the loss immediately.''

After thinking this out, I realize my feelings on what was appropriate this past Sunday aren't so cut and dried.

Really, there's no right or wrong when it comes to grieving.

All I can say to the Chiefs is this: You won the game as a team, just don't forget to take care of yourself.

Talk about it. Cry about it. Grieve about it.

That doesn't make you weak.

That makes you a man.

---

Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

---

AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Ashburn, Va., George Henry in Flowery Branch, Ga., and Arnie Stapleton in Englewood, Colo., contributed to this report.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dane FletcherMay 27 02:33a

Free-agent LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) has returned to the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

Devonta FreemanMay 26 09:53p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman worked with the first-team offense during organized team activities Tuesday, May 26.

Charles SimsMay 26 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims has a solid chance of beating out RB Doug Martin for Tampa Bay's starting running back gig, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

A.J. JenkinsMay 26 01:02p

Free-agent WR A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, May 26, according to a source. Jenkins was the 30th overall pick by the San [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 26 08:43a

Updating an ongoing story, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the idea of trading for Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, despite persistent rumors, according to The Dallas Morning [ More ]

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

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