KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt offered his condolences Sunday to the families affected by the murder-suicide involving one of his players.
Speaking to the media from the field before kickoff, he said it has been a difficult 24 hours for the team following Saturday’s murder-suicide involving linebacker Jovan Belcher and his 22-year-old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins.
“We have a lot of guys who are hurting on the coaching staff, as well as on the team,” Hunt said.
Hunt said that while he was having discussions Saturday with the league office about whether they should go forward with the game, he decided the right thing to do was leave it up to Head Coach Romeo Crennel and the team.
“Coach Crennel called the six team captains and asked them what they thought. They had heard a lot from their teammates, and they all wanted to go forward with the game,” Hunt said. “So that's how the decision was made.”
At the team hotel Saturday night, many players were still trying to cope with what happened, according to Hunt.
"We lost two members of the Chiefs family," Hunt said. "Kasandra was part of our Chiefs women's organization, and had done things in the community with the CWO group. They have a daughter now, who is an orphan. I can't imagine how difficult that's going to be for her."
The Chiefs had several counselors on hand at the team hotel Saturday night. The NFL and the players' association have also pledged their support to the team.
Crennel, general manager Scott Pioli and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs were in the parking lot of the Chiefs' practice facility Saturday morning when linebacker Jovan Belcher shot himself in the head. Belcher had shot his girlfriend multiple times at a nearby residence minutes earlier.
Hunt said Pioli called him from the parking lot immediately after the shooting, and that he flew from his home in the Dallas area to Kansas City on Saturday afternoon.
"I spent the evening last night at the team hotel with them," Hunt said. "I wanted to be there with the team, with the coaches, to let them know I love them and support them and know what they're going through, and particularly the guys who were present in the parking lot when Jovan took his life. I know this has to be incredibly difficult."
Some of the Chiefs huddled together in prayer in the tunnel leading to the field prior to pregame stretching. The Chiefs had a moment of silence for all victims of domestic abuse before the national anthem on Sunday.
After running back Peyton Hillis scored a touchdown on the opening possession, he ran to the sideline and gave the ball to Crennel along with a hug.
The Chiefs family has dealt before with murder-suicide. Retired tackle Jim Tyrer, a mainstay on the Super Bowl champion team of 1969, was reportedly despondent over not finding a job when he shot his wife and himself in their Kansas City home on the morning of Sept. 15, 1980.
There have been other tragedies that have struck close to home.
Mack Lee Hill, an undrafted fullback who went on to star for the Chiefs in 1965, died of complications following surgery on an injured right knee. The Chiefs later inaugurated the Mack Lee Hill Award given every year to the outstanding rookie.
On Feb. 8, 2000, eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Thomas died of a massive blood clot two weeks after he was paralyzed in a traffic accident. He had been thrown onto the pavement when the vehicle he was driving flipped on a slick, snow-covered highway.
On June 29, 1983, popular running back Joe Delaney drowned in his native Louisiana while saving three children from drowning. He had rushed for 1,121 yards his rookie year in 1981, and set four team records, helping the Chiefs post their first winning record since 1973.
"I've spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the other losses the organization has suffered, and no two of them were the same," Hunt said. "Every situation is different, but it's still a loss, a tremendous loss."
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