Kansas City’s sports fans are getting ready tonight to celebrate the return of Monday Night Football to Arrowhead Stadium. It’s the kind of national attention we seek.
But explosive news about former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher also emerged Monday. It’s bringing the kind of scrutiny Kansas City doesn’t desire — and also exposes the very ugly reality of life in the National Football League.
A new report says Belcher — who killed his girlfriend and then himself in late 2012 — “was likely suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” The Star reported.
An ESPN report later tonight is expected to reveal more information about the issue.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Belcher finding legitimately rekindles many of the arguments that people inside and outside the NFL are having right now about the violence of the sport and how it affects players.
Given the recent attention focused on domestic violence — from Belcher’s case to more recent incidents involving Ray Rice and other current NFL players — the CTE diagnosis for Belcher could become a critical turning point in this discussion.
In short, as more is learned about the effects of concussions and other brain injuries suffered by men in the NFL, the more society is going to want to know what the NFL is doing to prevent that kind of damage.
We’re seeing increasingly that the damage inflicted by being an NFL player can have tremendously negative effects on the rest of society. Women can be beaten or, as in the case of Belcher’s girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, can be killed.
Other domestic violence incidents along with other violent acts by current and former players can impose a toll on society as well. How much of that behavior is linked to CTE and other brain injuries is unknown right now.
But as the Belcher investigation shows, the more evidence that is uncovered about this issue, the worse the NFL looks.
Sure, fans flock to watch NFL games at stadiums such as Arrowhead and often watch in record numbers on television.
Yet at what point do the stories about people such as Jovan Belcher, Ray Rice and others erode that enjoyment?