Linebacker Jovan Belcher's uniform hung in his locker inside Arrowhead Stadium, but the moment of silence before Sunday's game was not for him.
It was for victims of domestic violence, for Kassandra Perkins, the girlfriend and of mother of his 3-month-old child.
Belcher shot and killed Perkins Saturday morning at their home before killing himself in front of Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and head coach Romeo Crennel.
Many have wondered how Crennel could coach a game so soon after seeing tragedy unfold in front of him.
"Our prayers go out to the family of Kassandra Perkins. They are grieving and we send our condolences to that family. Our prayers and condolences go out to the family of Jovan Belcher; they are also grieving," Crennel said. "Our prayers and hopes go out to 3-month-old Zoey, a little girl who will never get to know her mother and father. So, we're grieving for all involved."
The Chiefs played their best game of the year Sunday at Arrowhead after their worst day in franchise history.
Less than 36 hours after Crennel witnessed the suicide of linebacker Jovan Belcher in the parking lot of the Chiefs practice facility, his team beat the Carolina Panthers in a game he and his captains insisted on playing.
"As far as playing the game, I felt that was the best thing for us to do because that's what we do – we are football players, we are football coaches and we play and coach on Sunday. That's why I wanted to play the game. After talking with the captains, they 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," Crennel said.
Crennel chose not to answer any questions about what he saw Saturday.
"I think you will understand that and, hopefully, you will respect my wishes on that, because it wasn't a pretty sight, so I'm choosing not to talk about it," he said.
Crennel said the experience will probably change him, but he is not changing.
"I'm the same guy every day; that's been one of my qualities, being the same guy every day. The thing that we have to understand, when any person has an issue or has problems, if they're not totally honest with you about their issues or their problems, you cannot give them the correct help," he said.
Crennel believes people have to be honest about what problems they have, and how they perceive them and know people perceive things differently.
"The thing that helped me the most was talking to them yesterday morning and telling them about the circumstance. We were all able to lean on each other a little bit and let a little bit out. By letting a little bit out, that helped us all get through what we had to get through," he said.
The basic plan, Crennel said, was for the team to rely on each other, to rely their our family and friends, and to rely on their faith because that is what will get them through.
"We know there are going to be funerals. We're going to have to deal with and those kinds of things, so it's not over yet. It might not be over for a long time for some of the guys," he said.
Crennel gathered his players in locker room after the game Sunday and left them with one final message.
"Without each other, we would have never been able to get it done. So keep fighting for each other," he said joining hands in solidarity with his team.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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