During his four years with the Kansas City Chiefs, linebacker Jovan Belcher, along with his teammates, attended dozens of National Football League-sponsored meetings devoted to personal issues outside of football, reports the Kansas City Star. The sessions included handling personal and family relationships, depression, finances, drug and alcohol use, proper use of firearms, and where to find help and counsel for anything that might be bothering them.
Programs offered by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, not to mention individual counseling sessions with the Chiefs after the team became aware of problems, failed to connect with a troubled player such as Belcher. On Saturday, Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, at home and then shot himself to death outside the Chiefs’ practice facility. “Men in general, we don’t talk about our feelings or things we’re dealing with,” said former Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson. “Especially for athletes, we want to be big, strong and think we have everything under control. Then this situation happens, and you don’t have everything under control, and you make a terrible decision that not only ends your life, but ends the life of the mother of your child.” Kansas City police said two handguns were used in the killings: one at the home and another at the stadium parking lot.