Football takes a back seat for Chiefs fans following tragedy

For one somber day, a bad football team meant little to Kansas City.

A tragedy meant more.

A rattled community reacted with shock and disbelief, and some responded with a new perspective on professional athletes Saturday after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before killing himself in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot.

“It’s sad that someone with such a high profile like that does something that messed up,” said Kansas City native Michael Groff. “When a guy’s a pro football player, you assume everything is going good in his life.

“This is a reminder that isn’t necessarily the case.”

Chiefs fans used social media to track the story — and take part in the discussion — after news broke Saturday. The discussion spilled over to the downtown Kansas City bar scene Saturday night.

For once, few talked about the Chiefs’ offensive woes, an ongoing quarterback controversy or the race for the No. 1 draft pick. The Chiefs’ 1-10 record — the worst in the NFL — is suddenly no longer the concern.

Two people are dead, and that fact wasn’t lost on this fan base.

“I don’t really care what their record is anymore,” said Alfonso Johnson, who spent the evening in the Power & Light District. “This is bigger than football. We (are) talking about people’s lives. Who cares about football?”

Others, though, saw the murder-suicide as the topper to a season that has become memorable for all the wrong reasons.

“You really thought not much more could go wrong for the Chiefs, and then this happens,” Brandon Eversgerd said. “It’s insane. It makes you realize how crazy of a world we live in and how things can change in an instant. You have to take a step back and enjoy the people around you.”

Fans who spoke with The Star said Saturday’s events will not deter them from attending any future Chiefs games, including Sunday’s home game against visiting Carolina, which will be played as scheduled at noon.

Joey Jackson, a Chiefs supporter who lives in downtown Kansas City, disagreed with the NFL’s decision to not postpone the game.

“I don’t know how the players could play,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t want to play if it was my teammate.”

A bigger question, it seems, is how the Chiefs can appropriately observe the tragedy during the game and in the future.

“You feel for the guy, It’s important to remember that he killed somebody else,” Groff said. “It he had been murdered or something, that would be a lot different, but when you kill someone, you lose respect in my eyes.

“It’s a tough call. I’m glad I don’t have to make it.”