December 03, 2012 at 01:42pm by Scott • 3 Comments »
I’ve had a day (okay, a couple days — I started this entry yesterday but didn’t get to finish it) to think about the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide and the reactions from teammates and the rest of the NFL. Most players are just sending out thoughts and prayers to the families and people involved, and that’s all very nice. Some of the Chiefs players are doing the same thing while also giving Belcher some extra love, saying things like “Brothers for life!” and “Love you bro” and “Forever in our heart” and that’s the part that offends me. You can’t tell someone how to feel, so if that’s really their genuine reaction to this, so be it. But my first reaction was anger.
First off, I don’t get suicide. Or, more to the point, I can’t relate to it, and I know that’s a blessing for me. And I resent a lot of different aspects about it — the people who are hurt by their death, the senseless loss of everything that they could have contributed, the mythologizing of it as some hero’s end when it is anything but that. All that said, if a grown adult who is of sound mind has weighed all the options and decides that suicide is the best thing they can do for themselves, well, okay I guess. I don’t agree with it, and I think it’s even a stretch for me to say I respect the decision, but I can get past it. It’s their decision. If it were a friend of mine, I would still show up to the funeral or raise a glass in his memory at the wake or whatever, and I would remember the good times. But for Belcher to first shoot his girlfriend — the mother of his three-month old child — nine times IN FRONT OF HER OWN MOTHER, then go to the Chiefs facility so he can traumatize Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel by shooting himself in front of them? No. No remembering the good times, no keeping you in my heart, no “love you bro”. I didn’t know Belcher, but I don’t know anybody that is so good that I can look past murder in order to remember them fondly.
After someone dies, there’s a natural tendency to forget the bad stuff and just remember the good. And that’s fine and I’m totally okay with it. Men we revere with an almost football sainthood — Reggie White, Walter Payton, Derrick Thomas, and a bunch of others — all had well-publicized human faults that seem less important now that they’re gone. But you don’t get a pass for murder and you especially don’t get a pass for it in the way Belcher did his. He doesn’t get the memorialization or the tribute with the soft lens on your photograph. Belcher gets shit. His exit was weak and cowardly and victimizes a child who bears no fault in this at all.