Jovan Belcher

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Jovan Belcher
refer to caption
Belcher with the Chiefs in November 2010
No. 59
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1987-07-24)July 24, 1987
West Babylon, New York
Died: December 1, 2012(2012-12-01) (aged 25)
Kansas City, Missouri
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 228 lb (103 kg)
Career information
High school: West Babylon (NY)
College: Maine
Undrafted: 2009
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles: 256
Sacks: 1.0
Forced fumbles: 1
Fumble recoveries: 0
Interceptions: 0
Player stats at NFL.com

Jovan Henry Allen Belcher (July 24, 1987 – December 1, 2012) was an American football linebacker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He grew up in West Babylon, New York and was a standout high school athlete before attending and graduating from the University of Maine, where he played for the Maine Black Bears football team. Belcher was named an All-American twice in college after switching in his junior year from linebacker to defensive end.

Belcher was considered a strong small-school NFL prospect, but was not selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. He was later signed as a free agent by the Chiefs and became a regular starter at inside linebacker in 2010. His most productive season was in 2011, when he had 61 tackles and 26 assists. He was re-signed by Kansas City before the 2012 season and played in the team's first 11 games.

Belcher died on December 1, 2012, in a murder-suicide, murdering his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, before driving to the Chiefs' training facility and shooting himself in the head with a handgun.

Early years[edit]

The son of John Belcher and Cheryl Shepard, Belcher grew up on Long Island, New York, and attended West Babylon High School in West Babylon, New York.[1] He wrestled and played football there under head coach Albert Ritacco between 2001 and 2004.[2] He was a three-time All-American as a wrestler, and played as a linebacker, offensive tackle, nose guard and fullback on the football team.[1] He was captain of the football team for two seasons and led West Babylon to two Long Island Football Championships playoff appearances, although the team did not reach the title game.[1] The team had its first-ever undefeated regular season in 2004, when Belcher was a senior, but lost in the Suffolk County Championship game.[1][3] The school retired his number 52 jersey, and he returned to the school frequently later in his career to give pregame speeches to the team.[4]

Though he had an accomplished high school career – Belcher was a second-team All-Long Island selection in 2004 and was named to Newsday's list of the best players of the decade for the 2000s – he was not heavily recruited by major college football programs.[5]

College career[edit]

Belcher attended the University of Maine, a Division I FCS school, and played on its Black Bears football team.[1][6] Playing as an outside linebacker, he was fourth on the team in tackles in his first two seasons, registering 58 as a freshman in 2005 and 52 as a sophomore in 2006.[1]

Belcher had a standout season as a junior after he was switched from linebacker to defensive end.[1] The Associated Press named him a second-team All-American, while Sports Network named him a third-team All-American.[1] He led Maine's collegiate conference, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), with 10 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss.[1] His sacks total was seventh-highest in the nation.[1]

Belcher was named a second-team preseason All-American by Lindy's Publications before his senior season in 2008, when he also served as a team co-captain.[1] He led the CAA again with 17.5 tackles for losses. He also had 7.5 sacks and was the association's defensive player of the year.[1][7] After the season, Belcher was named by the American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Foundation as a first-team All-American in the Football Championship Subdivision, a grouping of smaller schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I.[8] He was the fourth multiple-time All-American in Black Bears history, following John Huard, Aaron Dashiell and Stephen Cooper.[8]

Belcher, who was a strong student in high school and college, graduated from Maine with a degree in child development and family relations.[5] "He always did his work, sat right up front," Ritacco, Belcher's high school coach and 10th-grade biology teacher, said later.[5] After graduating from college, he won an Academic Momentum Award from the National Consortium for Academics and Sports' Scholar-Baller Program.[7]

Professional career[edit]

2009 NFL Draft[edit]

Prior to the 2009 NFL Draft, Belcher was considered one of the best small-school prospects and was expected to move to outside linebacker in the NFL.[9] He was projected by Sports Illustrated as a sixth-round draft pick.[10]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 1 38 in
(1.86 m)
243 lb
(110 kg)
4.88 s 1.64 s 2.89 s 4.25 s 7.07 s 30 in
(0.76 m)
9 ft 0 in
(2.74 m)
19 reps
All values from Maine Pro Day[11]

Kansas City Chiefs[edit]

After going undrafted, Belcher signed a free agent contract with the Chiefs in March 2009.[6][12] At 228 pounds, he was considered small for an inside linebacker, but made three starts as a rookie and played in all of the team's games.[7][13] He had 33 tackles and two assists as Kansas City finished with a 4–12 win-loss record for last place in the AFC West division.[14] Belcher became a regular starter in the 2010 season, registering 53 tackles and 31 assists.[15] The Chiefs finished with a 10–6 record and reached the playoffs.[15] Kansas City lost 30–7 to the Baltimore Ravens in the wildcard round; Belcher had one and a half sacks and nine tackles in the game.[15][16]

Belcher continued as a starter in the 2011 NFL season, recording 61 tackles and 26 assists.[13] Kansas City finished last in the AFC West with a 7–9 record, and head coach Todd Haley was replaced by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel with three games remaining in the season.[17] Belcher was involved in community activities in Kansas City in 2011, visiting a nearby military base and a local elementary school to promote an NFL program for children.[7] He also traveled back to West Babylon every year and gave motivational speeches to students.[2]

The Chiefs re-signed Belcher in March 2012 to a one-year contract worth around $1.9 million.[7] Prior to his death, Belcher played in 11 games during the 2012 season, including 10 starts.[7] He had 33 tackles and five assists as the Chiefs started with a 1–10 record.[18][19]

Death[edit]

The Chiefs' practice facility near Arrowhead Stadium where Belcher killed himself

By late 2012, Belcher was living with his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and their three-month-old baby, Zoey, at 5401 Crysler Avenue in Kansas City.[20][21] Belcher and Perkins had been introduced through Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, whose wife was a first cousin of Perkins.[22] Perkins had also done volunteer work in the community, and with the Chiefs as part of its Women's Organization, a group of players' wives and significant others who do charity work and run awareness campaigns.[23][24] Friends said that the couple argued frequently, including after Perkins returned home at 1:00 A.M. from a Trey Songz concert at the Midland Theatre on the night of November 30, 2012. After the argument, Perkins went to the Power and Light District, an entertainment area by the Midland and Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City.[25] Belcher was also in the Power and Light District with a different woman.[26] After losing the woman in the crowd, Belcher drove to her apartment, but she was not home at the time.[26] Police found him there at 2:50 A.M., after receiving a 911 call about a suspicious person in a car parked on Armour Boulevard.[27][28] He told police he was waiting for his girlfriend, and forgot the code to her apartment. The police discussed the temporary tags on the car and urged him to go inside the building, saying they were "trying to cut [him] a break here."[29] Belcher did not smell of alcohol and was not slurring his words, police said.[29] He was later buzzed into the building by neighbors and allowed to stay for the night.[26]

Belcher returned home between 6:30 A.M. and 7:00 A.M., and had another argument with Perkins. In the ensuing argument, Belcher pulled out a handgun, shot and murdered Perkins right in front of his mother, Cheryl Shepherd.[20][21][26] Police arrived at the house at around 7:50 A.M., following a call from Shepherd, who had recently moved there from West Babylon, New York, to help the couple care for Zoey.[20][30] The baby was heard crying in the background when Belcher's mother called.[27] Perkins, who was 22 years of age, had been shot in the neck, chest, abdomen, hip, back, leg, and hand, a total of 9 times.[31][32][33]

After murdering Perkins, Belcher drove his 2007 Bentley Continental GT about five miles to a parking lot at the Chiefs' practice facility next to Arrowhead Stadium.[34] He stepped out of the car with a gun pointed to his head when he encountered Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli. Belcher told Pioli that he murdered his girlfriend, and thanked him before asking for Pioli and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt to take care of his daughter.[34] Pioli tried to persuade Belcher to drop the gun. Then, Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel, along with linebackers coach Gary Gibbs, arrived and joined the effort.[34] Police had been dispatched to the scene at 8:01 A.M.[21] As the sound of sirens approached, Belcher told the men that he had to kill himself and "can't be here."[34] He knelt down by a car, made a sign of the cross, and fatally shot himself in the head.[34] A photograph from the scene showed Perkins' blood smeared over the chrome gearshift of Belcher's vehicle, as well as broken glass on the dashboard.[35]

On January 14, 2013, the Jackson County Medical Examiner's office released autopsy reports, showing that Belcher had a blood alcohol content of 170 mg/dL in his system, double the legal driving limit in Missouri.[36]

The Chiefs had a game scheduled at Arrowhead against the also-struggling Carolina Panthers the day after the murder-suicide. The game went on as scheduled, following discussions between the NFL, Crennel, and the Chiefs' team captains.[37] No formal mention was made of the shooting at the game, although there was a moment of silence for "victims of domestic violence and their families".[38] The Chiefs defeated the Panthers 27–21.[18]

A service for Belcher was held on December 5 at the Landmark International Deliverance and Worship Center just southwest of Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs' practice was scheduled around the event. Pioli and one of Belcher's uncles spoke at the closed service.[39] A funeral for Perkins took place the following day at the Ridgeview Family Fellowship in Blue Ridge, Texas. Another service was held December 8 in Austin, Texas, where her father lives; Perkins was buried in Pflugerville, Texas.[40] Clark Hunt attended the service.[41] Perkins was born in McKinney, Texas, attended elementary and middle school in the Dallas suburb of Garland, and graduated from Anderson High School in Austin in 2009.[41]

Police revealed that the handgun Belcher used to kill his girlfriend was different from the one he used to kill himself. Belcher had other guns at his house, some of which he used to go to a shooting range.[42] All were legally owned. The day after the shooting, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas, quoting Jason Whitlock, said during a segment of Sunday Night Football that "in the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."[43] The comments prompted criticism and support from both sides of the gun control issue.[44]

Wrongful death lawsuit[edit]

In December 2013, his body was exhumed from the North Babylon cemetery at the request of his family to conduct tests on whether he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).[45] On December 31, 2013, Belcher's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri state court against her son's former team, the Kansas City Chiefs.[46]

The lawsuit claimed that "In the months leading up to Decedent's death, Defendant was aware of Decedent's symptoms and signs of cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment. Defendant micromanaged virtually every aspect of Decedent's life when it came to his physical abilities to perform in the workplace, including analyzing his diet, speed, strength and body-mass index. Yet when it came to monitoring Decedent's mental health and neurological capacities, Defendant disregarded evidence of impairments and fostered an environment where Decedent was required to play through his injuries and become exposed to further neurological harm."[47]

On September 29, 2014, ESPN released a report completed by a medical examiner, who determined that Belcher had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "9 – Jovan Belcher". University of Maine. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Abramson, Mitch; Schapiro, Rich (December 1, 2012). "Kansas City Chiefs' Jovan Belcher, who murdered his girlfriend and himself, was 'natural-born leader' from West Babylon High School". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Long Island football champions". Newsday. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ Rohan, Tim; Duggan, Dan (December 3, 2012). "Crennel Says He Tried in Vain to Talk Belcher Out of Suicide". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Herzog, Bob (December 1, 2012). "Jovan Belcher's former coaches are in shock". Newsday. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Gay, Nancy (December 1, 2012). "Tragedy leaves more questions". Fox Sports. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Mihoces, Gary (December 2, 2012). "Background: Who was Jovan Belcher?". USA Today. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Menendez, Jenn. "Belcher an All-American". Portland Press Herald. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ Pauline, Tony (February 16, 2009). "Small-school prospects high on the list of NFL draft decision makers". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Jovan Belcher". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Jovan Belcher, Maine OLB: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile". NFL Draft Scout. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  12. ^ Menendez, Jenn (March 16, 2010). "Black Bears signwith Chiefs, Lions". Morning Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Jovan Belcher NFL Football Statistics". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ "2009 Kansas City Chiefs Statistics & Players". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "2010 Kansas City Chiefs Statistics & Players". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs – January 9th, 2011". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  17. ^ "2011 Kansas City Chiefs Statistics & Players". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "2012 Kansas City Chiefs Statistics & Players". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Jovan Belcher, ILB for the Kansas City Chiefs at NFL.com". National Football League. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c "Jovan Belcher 911 Call: Cheryl Shepherd, Chiefs Player's Mom, Begs Kasandra Perkins To Live". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. December 5, 2012. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b c "Kansas City Police Incident Report" (PDF). Kansas City Police. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  22. ^ Kryk, John (December 3, 2012). "Chiefs teammate Jamaal Charles introduced Jovan Belcher to Kasandra Perkins". Toronto Sun. QMI Agency. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  23. ^ Rice, Glenn E. (December 6, 2012). "Kasandra Perkins funeral today in Texas". The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Players Outreach". Kansas City Chiefs. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  25. ^ Rice, Glenn (December 1, 2012). "Source: Belcher murder-suicide followed argument over Trey Songz concert". The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  26. ^ a b c d Evans, Thayer (December 3, 2012). "Source: Belcher was out with 2nd woman prior to murder-suicide". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b George, Rachel (December 5, 2012). "Jovan Belcher's mother frantic on 911 call as woman died". USA Today. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Chiefs' Belcher Spent Night Out Before Murder-Suicide". The New York Times. Reuters. December 4, 2012. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  29. ^ a b Campbell, Matt (December 7, 2012). "No hint of trouble in Jovan Belcher video". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  30. ^ Epstein, David (December 10, 2012). "Belcher case makes clear it's hard to fully illumine the human heart". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  31. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20130116032448/http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/new_details_drunk_belcher_shot_girlfriend_vRRIhcKK5CBP4nrB48kKKP. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "Belcher's girlfriend shot in chest, neck, abdomen, according to audio". USA Today. December 4, 2012. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  33. ^ Satriano, David (December 18, 2012). "Chiefs' Belcher texted secret girlfriend with Perkins threat: report". New York Post. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  34. ^ a b c d e Vendel, Christine (December 4, 2012). "Exclusive: Police reports detail Belcher, Perkins' last hours". Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Jovan Belcher leaves grisly car evidence of mayhem that preceded his shocking suicide". New York Daily News. December 3, 2012. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Autopsy: Jovan Belcher drunk when he shot girlfriend, self". KMPC. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  37. ^ Loumena, Dan (December 1, 2012). "Chiefs-Panthers game to be played in wake of murder-suicide". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  38. ^ Draper, Bill (December 2, 2012). "KC fans observe moment for violence victims". The Washington Times. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  39. ^ Hollingsworth, Heather (December 5, 2012). "Jovan Belcher Memorial Service: Chiefs Players Attend Service For Teammate". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Jovan Belcher's slain girlfriend's memorial held Thursday". NFL.com. Associated Press. December 6, 2012. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  41. ^ a b Stengle, Jamie (December 7, 2012). "Jovan Belcher case: Relatives at memorial say Kasandra Perkins brought joy". The Grio. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  42. ^ George, Rachel; Jones, Lindsay H. (December 4, 2012). "Jovan Belcher used two separate guns in murder-suicide". USA Today. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Bob Costas Gun Control Speech: Jovan Belcher Murder-Suicide Inspires Halftime Segment". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. December 2, 2012. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Jovan Belcher laid to rest near his L.I. hometown following emotional funeral". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  45. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  46. ^ http://media.kansascity.com/smedia/2013/12/31/15/38/14zjc0.So.81.pdf[permanent dead link]
  47. ^ Kalaf, Samer. "Jovan Belcher's Mother Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Chiefs". 
  48. ^ "OTL: Belcher's brain had CTE signs". ESPN.com. September 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]