Kansas City Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt said players were “really suffering” as they played at the stadium where teammate Jovan Belcher killed himself after police say he fatally shot his girlfriend.
The Chiefs hosted the Carolina Panthers in a National Football League game today at Arrowhead Stadium, where Belcher took his own life in a parking lot yesterday about 10 yards from General Manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.
Before the game, fans observed a moment of silence for all victims of domestic violence.
Hunt said he left it to Crennel and players to decide whether the game should be played as scheduled. The coach consulted with team captains before deciding to play, Hunt said in a series of on-field interviews before the game.
“We do have a lot of guys who are really hurting,” he said. “They’re going to come out here and give it their best today, but I don’t think anyone could fault them for being distracted.”
The NFL historically has been reluctant to postpone games.
It stayed with the schedule in November 2007 after Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was fatally shot by an intruder in his Miami home. In 2010, the Denver Broncos played a game scheduled six days after the suicide of wide receiver Kenny McKinley.
The NFL also went ahead with games in November 1963, just 48 hours after the assassination of President Kennedy, a move that then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle later said was the biggest mistake of his career.
In 1978, the 49ers hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in a “Monday Night Football” game hours after San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot to death by another city supervisor, Dan White.
The Kansas City Star yesterday quoted an unidentified person saying Belcher had argued with Kasandra Perkins after she attended a concert by rhythm-and-blues artist Trey Songz. The newspaper said the person was a friend of Perkins, 22.
Perkins and Belcher had a 3-month-old daughter. Belcher’s mother, who lives at the home where the shooting occurred, called police.
The Chiefs are in last place in the American Football Conference’s West division, entering today’s game with a 1-10 record.
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