Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos is from Brazil, and his thoughts of home were tinged with grief on Wednesday as he considered the plane crash that on Monday killed 71 people on the charter flight of the Chapecoense soccer team.
“It’s a devastating day for Brazil and the world, really,” Santos said.
His eyes moistened as he spoke both of the loss and the “beautiful gesture” of Colombia’s Atletico Nacional team. Chapecoense’s scheduled opponent in the Copa Sudamerica resolved to award the trophy to Chapecoense as an homage to the victims.
“I got emotional from those two things: losing a lot of good people but also the world coming together just to make everything better,” Santos said.
Santos has his own experience with a similar tragedy. During his senior year at Tulane in 2013, his father, Cairo, died while performing an airplane stunt in Brazil.
“Aerobatics is what he loved to do,” he told The Star in 2014, adding, “People said there was a sudden sound in the engine, and the airplane started to go down …”
Santos made a 56-yarder the week after his father’s death and game-winning field goals against North Texas and East Carolina. But it was constantly on his mind.
“If I missed a kick, it was harder for me to come back, to clear my mind and worry about the next kick,” he said then. “I go out on the field and I’m thinking about my family … my mom and sister are there without a husband and dad. So there were a lot of worries. My teammates were good about it, and the coaching staff was good.”