I hear the swell and crescendo of violin strings. I smell the stench of the concussionista conspiracists trying to make a murderer who subsequently committed suicide into the newest poster boy for pro-football players who commit acts of violence because of head injuries.
It’s a 24-hour journalism cycle now. The Web is stuffed with idle innuendo, stories that pose ominous questions to whet readers’ appetites but never answer them because there are no facts to answer them.
Victims are hot, even one who kills a woman friend with nine bullets, then kills himself to leave their 3-month-old daughter an orphan. Those facts are something of an impediment perhaps, but not enough of one to kill the oil slick of stories in which a pro football player is depicted as a faltering saint.
The sportswriters take their leap over the facile cliff, predictably churning out predictable mush in the group grope of making the act of Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher into one that doesn’t reflect the act itself but a reflection of our fractured society in which you-name-it-and-it’s-to-blame: lack of gun control, skewed perceptions of manliness, the violence of football turning a person uncontrollably violent in his own personal life. Or maybe it was the alignment of the stars last Saturday morning, or too much after-shave and not enough cologne, or a Q with no U in Words With Friends.
From Derek Flood in Tuesday’s Huffington Post:
“Did football injuries turn Belcher into a killer? If so, what needs to change in the NFL to avoid such tragedies in the future?”
I have no answer. Neither does Derek Flood, which is why he writes in questions. Not to mention that there isn’t a doctor alive, at least a credible one, who will say there is a positive causal link between brain disease from repetitive head trauma and murder.
From former Democratic congressional candidate Kevin Powell on CNN.com, trying to link the shootings to Belcher’s concept of manliness “in the supersized macho world of football.” As Powell sees it, the nine bullets pumped into Kasandra Perkins had less to do with Belcher’s inherent violence and more to do with what the 25-year-old thought it meant to be a man. In other words, talk is for punks. Or as Powell writes: “The lives of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins will have been in vain completely if we do not go deeper within ourselves to teach and show our sons, our husbands, our fathers, our men and boys, that there is another way.”
You can’t make this shit up.
From my friend Jason Whitlock in his column written the night of the shootings for FoxSports.Com:
“In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
This is my own pop psychology 101, but I will hazard a guess that Belcher would have beaten her to death instead, or stabbed her.
On and on it goes, writer after writer, until we might as well face it, folks:
We were the ones who made Belcher a murderer. It was our fault, or his coaches’ fault, or his teammates’ fault, or the scoreboard operator’s fault, or somebody’s goddam fault, not caring about him enough, not seeing the signs, not preventing him from owning a gun, not sitting down to have a heart-to-heart with him and explain that killing someone in cold blood is not a good thing.
So we should all be ashamed of ourselves. We should be offering prayers for the dearly departed Jovan Belcher, hoping that he will forgive us for making him a killer.
The only thing that might mitigate our culpability are the facts as the police have released them thus far. They depict Belcher not as what writers want him to be, but as he actually was.
The police account shows that Belcher owned several guns, which in my mind indicates that he was prone to violent tendencies far beyond football. (According to Sports Illustrated, Belcher owned eight of them, ranging from handguns to assault rifles).
It shows that he had been partying at clubs and drinking the night of the shooting and was found asleep in his car roughly five hours before he murdered Kasandra Perkins. His presence prompted a 911 call, which prompted the police to come, which also revealed that Belcher was outside the apartment complex of another woman.
The account shows that he stayed with the woman until about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday before he went back to where he lived with Perkins and their daughter and his mother. It shows that he got into an argument with Perkins and shot her at 7:50 a.m., then kissed her on the forehead as she lay dying and also had the good manners to apologize to his mother. Then he rode in style in his new Bentley to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice facility to say a final farewell to his coaches.
The account also shows that the Chiefs, contrary to the stereotype of NFL heartlessness, had arranged counseling for Belcher to help him deal with relationship and financial problems. “They bent over backwards,” in the words of Kansas City police Sgt. Darin Snapp.
Perhaps we should also consider this:
According to a study by the Violence Policy Center (PDF), there were an estimated 1,300 murder-suicides in the United States in 2011—more than 90 percent involving women killed by men before killing themselves. I doubt the perpetrators in any of these cases either suffered from repetitive head injuries or had anyone trying to excuse their actions by saying they suffered from repetitive head injuries. I doubt you could have prevented the killing of their female partners by redefining their sense of manliness.
The perpetrators were impulsively violent and willing to kill. Jovan Belcher was exactly the same, except for the fact that he was a pro football player and subject to more notoriety. Because he was young, and because he had a nice backstory of being an undrafted player making his way to become a starting linebacker for the Chiefs, his hideous actions have received unseemly sympathy.
He wasn’t a victim of anything, regardless of all the attempts by the media to find a deeper message. It is absurd to blame the NFL; I don’t care if he had a hundred concussions. He was a monster, and who cares whether he was quiet or loud or happy or sad. He shot Kasandra Perkins nine times. He left his tiny daughter with no parents. Then he went to the Chiefs’ practice facility and forced head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli to be there when he killed himself, subjecting them to permanent psychic scars and the guilt of not saving him.
Trying to find some underlying explanation for the acts of this monster only further glorifies him. He is gone, and it is good he is gone, and there is nothing more that needs to be said about him.