November 12, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Jovan Belcher (59) on the field before playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 16-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Jovan Belcher's Mother Files Suit Against Kansas City Chiefs

Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher‘s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, has field a wrongful-death lawsuit against the team, according to the Kansas City Star.

The details from the report:

The suit alleges that Belcher was exposed to “repetitive head trauma” and “suffered multiple concussive and subconcussive blows to the head which caused or contributed to cause a a constellation of neurologic/brain harms.

The lawsuit alleges the Chiefs were aware, or should’ve been, that Belcher showed signs of cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment.

The suit also alleges that the team assumed a duty to provide competent healthcare for Belcher when it ordered him to see a counselor on at least two occasions in October and November 2012.

According to the suit, former Chiefs general manger Scott Pioli and other Chiefs officials “engaged in mental abuse to ‘motivate’” Belcher to play through his injuries. The suit alleges that Belcher was told “he was just an accident, and they would get rid of him” — treatment the suit labels “constant bullying pressure and stress”…

That’s a ton of stuff there, so lets sum it up a little bit.

Essentially, Belcher’s mother is claiming the Chiefs share responsibility for Belcher’s actions and death on December 1, 2012 when he murdered his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins in his home and then killed himself at the Truman Sports Complex. The suit is arguing the Chiefs withheld information about the dangers of his job (read: brain injuries and CTE), did not inform him of the influence of his injuries towards his mental-health, and did not create a safe working environment (“engaged in mental abuse to ‘motivate’” and “constant bullying pressure and stress”), which contributed to the mental state that caused him to become insane.

The suit notes two different concussions Belcher suffered in 2009 and 2012 against Jacksonville and Cincinnati respectively. It is alleged Belcher was knocked unconscious for his first concussion, but was not treated for a concussion, and was not given time to recover before being forced to return to practice. Belcher suffered his second concussion two weeks before the murder-suicide.

It is not specified when Belcher was “bullied” into returning to practice and play through his injury. If it is found to be true that Pioli and other Chiefs officials bullied Belcher into playing through his injuries then one would have to think there will be a lot of changes happening in the way front offices are allowed to interact with players in the future.

Also in the report, it is alleged the Chiefs on two separate occasions told Belcher to seek counseling in the months leading up to the murder-suicide. Those actions, the suit suggests, placed a duty on the organization to provide mental healthcare for Belcher.

This is a fascinating case that could result in several ripple effects across the NFL and football. Should the court rule against the Chiefs on all accounts, it will set a legal precedent that the NFL did know of the dangers of the sport to the human brain and that football does indeed cause damage to one’s brain. This could lead other players to sue the NFL, or even the NCAA, for their brain-related injuries. One would have to think the NFL would encourage the Chiefs to settle the case out of court.

It should be noted that the suit is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, so money is involved with the lawsuit.

No one from the Chiefs has commented about the suit as of this writing.


Tags: Jovan Belcher Kansas City Chiefs

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