The day began like every other Saturday for quarterback Brady Quinn. A shower, some breakfast and a morning ride to the Chiefs practice facility at the Truman Sports Complex.
His first hint that this would be no normal Saturday came when police had the parking lot blocked off and he was redirected up the hill to Arrowhead Stadium and, eventually, a 9:30 team meeting.
“That’s where we were told by coach Crennel what had happened,” Quinn said.
At that moment Romeo Crennel, stopping at various junctures to maintain his composure, told Quinn and his teammates that linebacker Jovan Belcher had shot and killed his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, before going to the practice facility and ending his own life.
“It was obviously tough for Coach to have to tell us that,” Quinn said. “He really wasn’t able to finish talking to us. We got together and prayed and then we moved on.”
Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium will be played as scheduled with a noon kickoff. A league official said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with both DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL Players Association, and Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt.
Neither the union nor the Chiefs, after Crennel spoke with team captains, objected to the game being played as scheduled. The possibility of a postponement was discussed, but none of the parties thought that to be appropriate.
Asked whether he and his teammates agreed that playing the game was appropriate, Quinn said, “I think everyone is just so shocked at what had taken place, being who it was and being what had happened. I think people are still trying to digest everything let alone think about playing a game. It’s tough to put into words.
“It’s hard mostly because I keep thinking about what I could have done to stop this. I think everyone is wondering whether we would have done something to prevent this from happening.
“And then we’re all thinking about his daughter, three or four months old and without a parent. It’s hard to not allow the emotions of the situation to creep into your head with the game this close. But we’re going to do the best we can to concentrate on the task at hand.”
But the Chiefs will play with heavy hearts. Belcher, 25, was in his fourth season with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs and the NFL said they would make grief counselors available to the players. On Saturday night, the players association dispatched former Chiefs player Brian Waters to the team hotel to counsel players.
“There’s always two ways of looking at things,” Quinn said. “You can look at the negative in it, at the loss that occurred. Or you can try to look at it and try to find whatever positives you can take from it. Jovan Belcher was a great guy, a great teammate, a great father. He hadn’t been a father for very long.
“As players and teammates, we need to do a better job of reaching out to people and trying to be more involved and more invested in their lives. You never really know what’s going on in someone life, what they’re struggling with or what they’re battling through.”
Quinn joined the Chiefs this season after spending two seasons with the Denver Broncos and he became the starting quarterback two months ago. While he was with the Broncos, teammate Kenny McKinley committed suicide during the 2010 season.
He said he had no words of comfort for his teammates.
“It’s hard to say a whole lot,” Quinn said. “Unfortunately I was on Denver when Kenny McKinley took his life, and there’s really not any words that can describe the emotions that are involved.
“The big thing is (Belcher’s) daughter. I know a bunch of the guys are going to try to set up a fund to try to take care of his daughter. Her parents are not in her life anymore.”
The day before a game begins early for some players who want medical treatment or extra film study, but not so early for others. Normally, there is a mandatory 9 a.m. meeting and an 11 a.m. walkthrough practice, but neither one happened on this Saturday.
Several players were, like Quinn, turned away from the practice facility by police. Other Chiefs employees were turned away as well until the building was opened for business later in the day.
“I went out there but I couldn’t get in,” said tight end DeMarco Cosby, a practice squad player. “The police wouldn’t let us in.”