It’s not always what it seems

My Saturday morning began rather ordinarily. I woke up, made a quick breakfast, and began my typical perusing of the various social media websites I frequent. As I was listening to some tunes, something befuddling appeared on my Twitter feed at 9:16 a.m. It was a tweet from NFL insider Jay Glazer reporting two individuals, a Kansas City Chiefs football player and another person, had been shot at the Chiefs’ practice facility.

Numerous reports from various NFL insiders and analysts I follow soon emerged, acting almost as pieces to a puzzle. 25-year-old Chiefs player. Shot himself in front of his coach and general manager. Murdered his girlfriend. Kansas City Police Department refuse to reveal his identity. The details provoked the eerie feeling that a murder-mystery was playing out right before my eyes. Finally, just a mere two hours after the initial tweet, a name was finally dropped: Jovan Belcher.

Kansas City Police Department reported Belcher had shot his girlfriend before driving to Arrowhead Stadium where he committed suicide before his coach Romeo Crennel and general manager. Something was wrong with Belcher mentally I thought, and my suspicions only grew when insider Jason La Canfora tweeted, “Chiefs are shocked, Belcher had no history of anything like this, seen as a good kid, close to Crennel. he recently had child w/girlfriend.”

The media began to sound off almost instantly. During halftime of the Sunday Night Football game the following day, Bob Costas went on a spiel that addressed gun control. Costas quoted columnist Jason Whitlock, whose column can be read here, “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Not only did the comment not pertain to the football game, it also contained no logic whatsoever. I could go off on a quasi-political rant about gun control, but politics have no reason to be brought into such a somber topic. Gun control may decrease the amount of gun-related crimes, but would it cut down on other violent crimes like, I don’t know, domestic violence? It’s doubtful that banning guns would stop someone mentally unhinged from finding other ways to murder their loved one and eventually kill themselves.

Of course the average Twitter user also had the opportunity to make their voice heard. While the majority of reactions could be described as straight confusion, others took a more hostile approach. It wasn’t uncommon to stumble upon tweets telling Belcher to “rest in hell” or affirming that “hell is nice and hot for Jovan Belcher,” among other more explicit and inappropriate statements. Alas, Belcher was not the only victim of these tweets, as those who tweeted “R.I.P. Jovan Belcher” were not spared.

Indeed, the circumstances of his death are extremely horrifying and even selfish, but I refuse to believe this was just an act of random violence. None of us can even fathom what could have been going through Belcher’s head at the time of the murder-suicide. Who knows his concussion history? Perhaps he had an underlying mental problem? This is only pure speculation of course, but to think that a 25 year old that had an entire life ahead of him and a newly born child would wake up, murder his girlfriend, and then kill himself for no apparent reason is both an ignorant and ludicrous assumption.

And that’s why some opted to pay their respects to the dead. Maybe those of us who are saying “R.I.P. Jovan Belcher” are saying it because the demons inside his head have finally been exorcised and he can now truly rest in peace. In no way is this a condonation of Belcher’s acts, not even in the slightest, but what people need to know is that this man may have been going through something we don’t understand.

The news hit me harder than I’d imagine because the situation reminded me of something familiar that occurred a little over five years ago: the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide. Benoit, who had been one of my beloved pro wrestlers as a child, had uncharacteristically murdered his wife and child before he killed himself. Benoit was known as being peaceful and kept to himself, which is why I believe Benoit was not all there. Like Belcher, Benoit was involved in a concussion-laden occupation, making head trauma a real possibility.

We can continue to play the guessing game all we want, but in the end, we may never fully understand why people like Benoit or Belcher would commit uncharacteristic and violent acts. This fact alone is why I have some level of understanding in these situations. Never would I even imagine Benoit killing his family, and I’m sure if I knew the man Belcher supposedly was I wouldn’t expect him to kill his girlfriend or himself, which leads me to believe something was wrong deep down inside these men.

There are a lot of things we can learn from this horrific and tragic event. As Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn said in his postgame press conference, “Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.” Is that smiling, happy-go-lucky friend really all that he seems? That’s why this situation has had such a profound effect on me; it has opened my eyes and shown me that people may be struggling with something we may never understand.

In the end, it is important not to forget about all those involved. I would like to send my deepest condolences to the Belcher family, the Perkins family, the Chiefs organization, and most of all, Belcher’s three month old child.

Rest in peace, Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins.