I’m not sure what the convention is for things like this on a website or publication, but at the moment there are more important things than how AP Style tells me to mention a tragedy. If you’re into to praying – to whomever you pray – stop and say a few words for Kasandra Perkins’ family, her murderer Javon Belcher’s family and for the lifetime of questions that their three month old daughter Zoey will never be able to answer.
Also for the family of Eric Eucker, the Cleveland Browns employee who committed suicide at the team’s practice facility.
And if you’re not the praying type, just take a second. Not only in regard to these incidents, but for the friends and families of more than 100 suicides in the United States each day. These two incidents were illuminated because they took place in the sports world, just as these things are illuminated when they take place in any high profile industry, or to any high profile person. But the cold, hard truth is mental illness, bullying or just plain craziness can strike any person at any time. These things could happen to you or me tomorrow. Maybe we’re taking more precautions than most or maybe we’re saner than most, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing if you happen to walk into the wrong coffee shop in the morning, or be on the road when someone who’s being affected by these issues is coming the other direction.
My point isn’t to scare you, it’s to be honest about all of us being a blink away from being in the news; whether it’s a purposeful act or a random tragedy. There’s nothing we can do except help the people around us if they’re in need. If you need someone to talk to and don’t know who, or if you have a friend or family member who’s reaching out but you don’t know how to help, tell them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
The Kansas City Chiefs Were NOT Wrong
I’m going to spare this column from being a news recap of what happened in Kansas City on Saturday. If you’re reading this, you already know. The day after Javon Belcher’s terrible act, the Chiefs played a football game and had Belcher’s uniform hanging in his locker before the game.
I want to be very clear about what I’m about to say. The Chiefs were NOT WRONG for either one of those things.
Yes. There were very compelling arguments for cancelling that football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday. None of those arguments were wrong, either. They just weren’t right for that particular group of men in that particular moment in time. Head Coach Romeo Crennel said it himself, “They [his players] 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.” In every situation of this magnitude, I always vote to leave it up to the people affected to choose whether they go on or take time off. It’s not fair to them for me to assume that I know what’s best for them.
Having Javon Belcher’s jersey hanging in remembrance in the Chiefs’ locker room is a more touchy subject for many people. Here are two things that I know about Javon Belcher; that he is a murderer and that his teammates, friends and family were not going to be able to put that into context about the man that they knew and loved the next day.
I cannot begin to imagine what those men were feeling that day. I cannot imagine being Romeo Crennel or Scott Pioli the moment that they watched someone that they have coached, mentored and cared for kill himself. What I can imagine is that, in that moment, there was more than just one emotion happening in that room. There was anger, confusion, anguish and vulnerability. Maybe if the Chiefs are honoring Belcher before next week’s game against the Cleveland Browns I’ll be inclined to criticize their decision to do so, but not Sunday.
I don’t think that I would have played that football game and I certainly don’t think that I would have hung Javon Belcher’s jersey in the locker room. But that doesn’t make the Chiefs wrong.
The San Francisco 49ers ARE Wrong
Alex Smith 2012 Game Log
Colin Kaepernick 2012 Game Log
I offer these two sets of stats largely without comment specific to them. My argument for going back to Alex Smith as the starting quarterback in San Francisco isn’t purely stat based. I’ve been interested by the 49ers and their coach Jim Harbaugh for the last two seasons. I’m not entirely sure why the 49ers interest me so much. Maybe it’s their history. Maybe it’s my jealousy that the West Coast always gets better stuff than the East Coast, even when it comes to Harbaugh brothers.
But because of this interest, I’ve watched a lot of San Francisco football lately. I can tell you one thing that I’ve learned during this weird gold-miner based obsession is that Alex Smith found his mojo last year. He’s unlocked the mystery of “it”. That thing that some quarterbacks eventually find that helps them lead their teams to victory.
Colin Kaepernick is a talented young quarterback, but I don’t think it’s a great idea by Jim Harbaugh to give him the reigns when the only thing I can prove he’s figured out is how to look cool with tattoos.
Without the veteran leadership that Alex Smith provides, San Francisco is no longer one of the heavies to make the Super Bowl.