Donnelly: Jovan Belcher Was No Hero, So Why the Tributes?

It’s tough to predict how anyone will react in the face of unexpected tragedy…

That’s a given.

But most of the reactions from Kansas City Chiefs players and staff following the horrific Jovan Belcher murder-suicide left me a little confused.

“I don’t think anyone ever imagines waking up the day before a game, and getting informed that a player, a leader on your team, has something so tragic happen like that,” said Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn after the team won its second game of the year barely 24 hours removed from Belcher’s alleged heinous acts.

Let’s be clear – Belcher didn’t have something tragic happen to him. 

His girlfriend and all the other people he affected did.    

“We wanted to make sure we honored both families,” said Chiefs owner Clark Hunt of the pre-game moment of silence – that did not include any mention of Belcher specifically.

While I get the sentiment, I wonder how the murder victim’s family feels about honoring Belcher’s family at this time.

“You just can imagine what (the two families) are going through right now, and as a team, we lost a brother,” said Chiefs player Derrick Johnson.  “It’s going to take time and life goes on, but we lost a good one.”

I’m just asking here – but should someone who did what Belcher did, ever again be considered “a good one?”

I understand that everyone in the Chiefs organization is saying they didn’t see any warning signs, that Belcher was a great teammate, always on time and always a hard worker.

But where is the condemnation of his brutal crime?

Some of his teammates wore tee shirts honoring him.

How high does the body count need to go before the locker room code gives way to reality?
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14 Responses to Donnelly: Jovan Belcher Was No Hero, So Why the Tributes?

  1. mike says:

    Put yourself in the player’s shoes. Imagine if you had a close friend do something like that. He was part of their family and they loved him. They have to go through a greiving process. They may feel anger toward him for what he did later on down the road after it all sinks in. I wouldn’t be too quick to judge the players for this. This would not be an easy thing to deal with. In a way, they were also victims of what Belcher did.

    • HARLEY says:

      deadspin has a report that belchar drank…drugs…short term memory loss..rx pills..
      ..problems with the girlfriend….problems withcustody of the child..
      the usuall things in a murder suicide.
      i think we’ll see another side to this story real soon…as the two sides
      battle it out…the girl versus the football player.
      i’m sure there will lots of gossip

  2. Jim says:

    I’m not defending ANYTHING about this act of violence. It’s murder, plain and simple. But, I think most people just can’t rap their heads around the “why” part. I personally think the guy snapped in a moment of rage. He wouldn’t be the first person to do that. I’ve not heard anything (to date) that indicates any other incidents of domestic violence in his past. That is always subject to change as things progress. Realizing what he had done and knowing his life was over, he turned the gun on himself. To me, that’s the most logical explanation. My guess is this happens everyday in America, but not involving an NFL player.

    • Markus Aurelius says:

      Agreed. If the article at Deadspin is accurate — add this single, horrible life-changing mistake to ongoing use of painkillers and prior head trauma and in some ways you wonder how it doesn’t happen more often.

      I’ve no anecdotal or empirical evidence to support this but I would imagine that most murder-suicides are the result of an act of rage that went too far immediately followed by the combination of an overwhelming sense of regret and fear, which when combined makes suicide seem like the best, if not only, remaining option.

  3. Orphan of the Road says:

    So many of the first reports I read online stated, Chiefs’ player commits suicide. No mention of the murder which started the whole chain of events.

    To this point, not one of us ham-and-eggers knows the whole story. The facts are the first casualties as the media rushes to be first to report — something. And we all follow along like chickens picking the corn from the hog dung.

    Ray Lewis was part of a conspiracy which led to the death of Rae Carruth’s wife. Today he is honored as if he cured cancer rather than being someone who wanted to help his friend get away with murder. For making a fortune due to superior hand-to-eye coordination.

    I thought Quinn’s statement was heartfelt and not honoring his teammate. Rather expressing the shock of waking up to find a friend and coworker had committed murder and taken his own life after doing the terrible deed.

    A baby girl will grow up without a mommy or daddy and that is what I take out of this horrible incident. Someday she will want to know about them and when she searches, she will find some very hateful and unknowing comments from folks who have no clue about the incidents facts or what led up to this unthinkable crime.

    I appreciate you post. It covered your thoughts without bringing any personal agendas or misbegotten “facts” about the people involved. Thanks for your clarity and your expression of your thoughts.

  4. Markus Aurelius says:

    I understand your point but for those of us that never knew Jovan Belcher, it’s easy to sit here and act as if everything is so black and white and suggest that his heinous act negates the validity of the feelings his friends, teammates, co-workers, family have towards him after a lifetime of friendship and love.

    I’ve heard no one make excuses for what he did or attempt to justify it, but the act immediately preceding his own death – namely, the murder of his girlfriend – doesn’t auto-magically erase the care and concern that those who knew and loved him feel about him.

    You say, “I’m just asking here – but should someone who did what Belcher did, ever again be considered “a good one?””

    I’ll respond to your question with a question. Take the moment in your life when you were at your absolute worst as a human being — whatever is the meanest, vilest, cruelest, most insensitive, hateful, hurtful thing that you’ve ever done – would you want your life defined by that 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes of your entire life? Do you think it’s fair for others to do so? Answer that question and you’ve answered your own as well.

    There are no black hats and white hats in the real world. The last and only white hat was nailed to a tree 2000+ years ago.

    • admin says:

      Well said Markus, but allow me to answer your question.

      While most people wouldn’t want their life defined by their single lowest moment, when that moment rises to the level of what Belcher did, that’s exactly what is going to happen.

      And I don’t think many people – if any – would give him a pass based upon his football play or being a nice guy and good friend for several years prior to that act.

      Infamy plays no favorites

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        Perhaps if your darkest deeds are followed by act which attempt to makeup for your behavior.

        JJ Maloney is an example. Serving four-life sentences in Jeff City, he was pardoned by the governor. Went on to uncover the corruption and mob involvement in the River Quay, exposed the Freeway Killer as preying on gay men and writing about the firemen’s death which exposed the FBI & local law enforcement for their mishandling and abuse in the case (sadly, he died before authorities acknowledged he was correct).

        We exchanged emails a few times concerning a KC murder in the late 50s which was never solved. He expressed an interest in the story but we were never able to really delve into it.

        He told me his redemption never erased all the pain and suffering he brought upon others.

      • Markus Aurelius says:

        There’s no question that others are going to define him by the actions of his final hour or so — that’s already happening all across the country.

        I took Matt’s italicized question as not asking whether he would be considered a good one (clearly not). but rather should (or could) someone who did what Belcher did, ever again be considered “a good one”?

        In truth, I think the underlying premise of the question is mostly false because I think it’s nearly impossible to reduce the value of any person’s life to that of a single act, be it awe-inspiring or despicable. In either case such an act dismisses those other acts in the person’s life that had meaning, real meaning, to those they impacted either positively or negatively.

        For example, the heroism and selflessness of some guy that pulls a child from a burning building is lost on the family of the young girl he raped years before. Likewise, the murder of someone in a fit of rage late in life doesn’t negate the impact a prior act of generosity had on a formerly homeless family when the killer saved the family from a life on the streets.

        If people are willing to be honest and to spend the time, I think most can see both the good and the bad. It’s just that most of the time we’re too lazy to do so – it’s far easier to label someone that it is to actually consider who they really were and the impact they had, both good and bad, on the people they crossed during their life.

  5. the dude says:

    Murderer and coward.

  6. Rick Nichols says:

    Condemning Belcher for what he did only adds insult to injury with respect to what the families are going through at this difficult time. Hey, anyone old enough to know right from wrong knows that what he did was wrong, but calling him a murderer, a coward and what have you isn’t going to change the outcome: two people are still dead and a baby girl is now an orphan. So what do you want Clark Hunt, the NFL, Mayor Sly James and the talking heads in the media to do – criticize a dead man for his actions as if that will somehow prevent the next guy who gets upset with his wife or girlfriend from doing the same thing? Get real.

    • Matt says:

      But he was a murderer, Rick. That’s the truth. I’m not trying to pile on, but can’t we call it like it is? Instead, it seemed that many wanted to actually praise the guy, which seemed inappropriate to me.

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