Kansas end losing streak one day after horror double death
KANSAS City Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel praised the character of his players after they snapped an eight-game losing streak only a day after team-mate Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide at the team's practice facility.
Belcher, who was 25, shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his three month old daughter, and then drove to the team's base and turned his gun on himself in front of both Crennel and the team's general manager Scott Pioli.
Crennel declined to address what he saw, but was proud of his players after their 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers, a win that ended an eight-game losing streak but still produced little in the way of celebrations.
"I want to start with yesterday's tragedy and remind everybody that it involved two families," Crennel said.
"Our prayers go out to the family of (Belcher's girlfriend) Kasandra Perkins. They are grieving and we send our condolences to that family.
"Our prayers and condolences go out to the family of Jovan Belcher; they are also grieving. Our prayers and hopes go out to three month old, Zoey, a little girl who will never get to know her mother and father.
"So, we're grieving for all involved. It's tough when circumstances happen that you can't undo, so you have to rely on each other, rely on your family, your friends and your faith.
"That's what, as a team, we tried to do today, try to work our way through the tragedy, knowing that it's not over today, it will still go on the next day and the next day. But life is going to go on as well, so we have to work through it. That's what we're going to try to do."
The Chiefs had made the decision that Sunday's game should go ahead only hours after the incident occurred, a decision made jointly by the coaches and team captains in consultation with the NFL.
"As far as playing the game, I felt that was the best thing for us to do because that's what we do - we are football players, we are football coaches and we play and coach on Sunday," Crennel said.
"That's why I wanted to play the game. After talking with the captains, they also felt like it was best that we played, if for no other reason, it takes our mind off our misery for a few hours...
"As far as today went, it was a total team victory today. I'm proud of the guys in that locker room, proud of the coaches, proud of the organisation for having to deal with what we had to deal with and be able to pull through it and show some character."
Of Belcher, Crennel said: "Jovan was a good team-mate, a hard worker, sat in the front of the room all the time, so you don't expect anything like what happened."
Quarterback Brady Quinn, who led the team to victory with two touchdown passes, described Belcher as a leader and expressed his shock at what had happened.
"I don't think anyone ever imagines waking up the day before a game, and getting informed that a player, a leader on you team, has something so tragic happen like that," he said.
"I think in moments, in tragedies like this, they can either define you or redefine you and I think this team was able to take an event and allow it to redefine us as a team."
Belcher's defensive team-mate Derrick Johnson said he had seen no warning signs of what was coming.
"I didn't see anything at all," he said.
"Jovan is the definition of a team-mate. He's going to give 100 per cent every time; he's one of the most consistent players I've played with.
"He and I have grown really close since he's been on the team, and this is devastating."
Quinn added that the Chiefs players now plan to raise money for Belcher's daughter.
"We are going to try to put together a fund for her," he said.
"Obviously, without having either parent in her life now I think it is important that she understands what type of love that she should get from a family, and Jovan was part of our family."