Perhaps you’ve noticed but I’ve been rather silent regarding the actions of Jovan Belcher on Saturday morning. It’s also entirely possible that you haven’t noticed my silence on the topic given that the topic has been covered ad nauseam by countless sources. The following meanders a bit but there is a point so bear with me.
Our own Arrowhead Addict has been with the story since it broke – and has done an exceptional job as always with their coverage. Beyond the Chiefs community the news was quickly picked up by national sources and has continued to be a talking point throughout the day.
A football player in his mid-20s shoots his girlfriend at home and then drives to the team’s facilities to take his own life in front of the general manager, head coach and other employees? Yeah, that’s going to move the needle nationally – and rightly so. NBC’s Pro Football Talk alone has published 18 articles in the last several days on the topic and I’m sure they will have a couple more to come as more information comes out and more angles present themselves.
Given the plethora of coverage, I’m not here to report on the incident. There are more than a few sources out there doing that. If you’re still not fully up to speed on the nuts and bolts of what took place, at least as we understand them so far, go back up and click on the link I provided or do a quick Google search.
We’re getting to the point where the shock of the initial news is wearing off and now the debate and discussions about Belcher’s motivations, mental state, character and personal relationships shift to the forefront.
It’s only natural.
We have become obsessed – and perhaps we always were – with needing to know why someone acted in a certain way. We have to have an explanation to why something, anything upsetting happens. It helps put things in perspective and it helps some people cope with tragedy to know the ins and outs of what took place.
In this case, as in so many others, obtaining that level of knowledge and insight is simply not possible. The only two people capable of providing the two perspectives that really matter in this series of tragic events, Kasandra Perkins and Jovan Belcher, are no longer with us. Of course, that won’t stop people from trying and that’s okay.
It’s only natural.
I generally don’t spend too much time contemplating the underlying factors in tragedies like this, at least not as much as the majority of people out there. For me the events have already taken place and we can’t change them. Whether Belcher was an alcoholic, on pain medication, suffering from head trauma, stressed out or all of the above, it doesn’t change the fact that he killed another human being. It doesn’t change the fact that he then took his own life in front of people who knew and cared about him.
Sure, if we could truly know and understand exactly what was going through his head leading up to and during the events of Saturday morning we could probably apply that knowledge in a manner that would allow us to prevent another individual dealing with similar circumstances from acting in a similar fashion. I get that, but we can’t truly know can we?
As much as we may want it to be otherwise, the world is a tapestry of shades of gray. It doesn’t exist solely in black and white.
For me, what is important is what happens next. Who steps forward and provides the insight and profound thought that allows us to refocus, move on and (hopefully) improve? What is that message and how deeply do people take it to heart?
While others may come in the days and weeks that follow, Brady Quinn has already delivered one such message after the Chiefs victory over the Panthers Sunday afternoon:
“I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what could I have done different. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a society of social networks, and Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine and stuff, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have in front of us. Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they may be revealing on a day-to-day basis.”
I can’t speak for anyone else out there, but damn, that hits home on a lot of levels for me.
Belcher snuffed out two lives on Saturday morning and he certainly put his 3-month old daughter’s life on a different path. Those that simply knew or were truly close to Perkins or Belcher have also had their lives forever altered by this. My heart goes out to them though I can’t even begin to fathom what they are dealing with.
From Jovan Belcher’s actions and Brady Quinn’s words, we are reminded that all too often we spend our days just going through the motions while only partially paying attention to those around us.
If you need to spend time trying to understand the motivations and underlying causes of this weekend’s tragic events, I certainly hope you will do so. We all cope in different ways after all. But I hope Quinn’s message will stick with you as well. Don’t focus solely on Jovan Belcher’s character but also on your own.
It’s time to refocus and it’s time to take more of an interest in the lives of others.