No matter what the circumstance or who the victim, murder is one of the most vile crimes and Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide brings to question how sporting organisations stand on issues of violence and crime.
The reactions from the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs and general sporting community have varied across internet forums after Belcher took his own life by shooting himself in the head while Chiefs’ head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli pleaded with their starting linebacker not to do so.
Hours earlier, Belcher murdered his girlfriend.
Violence is a major issue across all professional sporting codes with a volatile concoction of money and masculinity infused together. The NFL has long had a history of player violence.
Condolences have been issued worldwide towards the Belcher family and members of the Chiefs organisation.
The usual “counselling” services have also been made readily to all members of the Chiefs organisation. After witnessing Belcher’s suicide, Crennel and Pioli’s lives will never be the same.
The use of the word “tragedy” has been intriguing to follow and one which has arguably been used inappropriately.
Tragedies occur when bad things happen to good people. No matter how good of a person Belcher was throughout his 25 years of life, it was all undone when he took someone else’s. Taking his own life in front of witnesses makes him in absolute disgrace if he wasn’t already one.
Joe Linta, Belcher’s agent was one of the first to defend his client’s character.
“Never until four hours ago did I think Jovan was anything but a model citizen,” Linta said.
“Jovan was a happy, proud father, with pictures of his baby on his Facebook page.”
The NFL and Chiefs have been quick to dismiss any ideas of delaying Monday’s (Australian time) game against the Carolina Panthers.
This firm decision sends the message that the NFL will not acknowledge Belcher’s crimes with sympathy. Instead they will move past it rather than dwelling on the issue and will not accept any of the responsibility associated with the handling of Belcher’s psyche.
The murder-suicide is eerily similar to the Chris Benoit murder-suicide in 2007 when the WWE wrestler committed suicide after murdering his wife and son. The WWE reacted by removing all mention of Benoit from their record books.
The industry he had dedicated his life to turned their back on him.
In recent years, the NFL has had to handle the fallout of both Ray Lewis and OJ Simpson murder trials. Although Lewis was never charged under dubious circumstances, the NFL levied a $250,000 fine and allowed him to become one of the greatest linebackers in history. He is considered a near certainty to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 1995 murder trial of OJ Simpson is one which has been cemented into the history books of the United States for many of the wrong reasons.
Considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Almost two decades on from the incident, speculation is still rampant.
If the NFL is to committed to their stance against violence, they and the Kansas City Chiefs will do everything possible to distance themselves from Jovan Belcher.