Sports Column: Tragedy in Kansas City: Chiefs try to recuperate after heartbreaking loss of life


By James Russell

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The clouds pass, the moon rises, and the clock moves on.

The cold sets in but soon dissipates within an oddly warm darkness.

The night slips by in a moment, a brief flit of smoky fog, and a new day dawns.

Nov. 30, 2012 has become the first of December and the planet we call Earth continues to revolve around the sun. Another day, another month.

But as the hours pass and people here in these United States pull themselves from their beds and go about their early morning routines, something else is taking place in Kansas City that will rock not only the Chiefs Kingdom, but the nation itself.

This has never happened quite like this. Not in the NFL.

A woman, a mother, has left her life here upon this planet. A man, a father, is soon to take his own life in apparent recompense for his deeds. A child is about to be left without her parents.

And it will all end at Arrowhead Stadium.

By the time this article sees publication the events that took place Saturday will have been rehashed innumerable times by both local and national media. By the time this sees print much more will be known about the ‘why’s which surround the incomprehensible tragedy that has occurred on this otherwise normal morning.

But regardless of what information is to come, I have trouble believing that we’ll ever have any real answers. How can there be an answer for something like this?

There can be shock. There can be anger. There can be pain. There can be sorrow.

In time, there can be healing.

But answers? Real answers? I don’t think such things exist this side of the veiled curtain separating us from whatever comes after.

I cannot imagine the depths of emotion those closest to this situation are experiencing right now. The family on both sides of this who are left behind; the men who stood before him as he uttered his last words and ended his life; the infant daughter who will ever know her parents only in pictures and stories passed on to her…

I grieve for the grief that they share and for the burden they will always carry within themselves.

Football let loose its robes that day and what is hidden beneath them was revealed in this senseless and unthinkable tragedy: that it is merely a game.

I breathe Chiefs football – or at least I often seem to think I do. But at the end of the day, and at the end of life, not a single win or loss truly matters.

Family. Friends. Love. These things. They matter.

I have no answers for what happened. Many will condemn the man who did this as evil. I can’t agree with that. I don’t think those close to him would agree with that.

Something occurred that day for which I have no frame of reference. I cannot imagine what was going through his head as he committed the acts that he did. I know that whatever demons existed there drove him to end his own life as well, and until I’ve been in that place I’ll reserve my damning of a man who faced the darkness and was lost within it.

The loss of life is tragic in almost any circumstance. I don’t see this as an exception to that.

Rest in peace, Kasandra Perkins. And while I don’t know that anyone else will write these words for print, rest in peace, Jovan Belcher.

Contact James Russell, sports columnist, at


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