Scott Pioli discusses Jovan Belcher murder-suicide on Dan Patrick Show
The 2012 Chiefs season was one of the worst in NFL history, and it wasn’t just because that team finished with a 2-14 record.
On Dec. 1, 2012, the day before the Chiefs were set to face the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and killed himself.
It was the darkest day in franchise history.
General manager Scott Pioli was fired weeks later, but the incident remains fresh in his memory. He recounted that event and his time with the team last Friday during a commencement speech at Central Connecticut University.
During his address on Friday, Pioli recalled the Belcher incident as well as his ups and downs as the Chiefs general manager. Pioli had taken over following a 2-14 season in 2008 and the Chiefs were the AFC West champions in 2010. But two years after that title, Pioli was gone.
While talking to the graduates, Pioli said they should be a servant, be resilient and be loving and graceful. He expounded on all three points, and used his time with the Chiefs when talking about resiliency.
“I know this sounds cliche. You’re going to hear it. You’ve probably heard it,” Pioli said. “Failure is coming one day. You just don’t know when and you’ll never be prepared. Sometimes it will be small failure. Sometimes it will be epic. Several years ago, I experienced epic failure.
“There was a time in my career, I started out and things went well. I became a lead partner with my good friend Bill Belichick up in New England. We were able to create this really cool dynasty. And at some point in time, we all get the opportunity to ride the wave. A couple of years later, I took another job to be the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I went there and at the time, the Chiefs were one of the worst franchises in the NFL. (After) being there for two years, the group of people I worked with and myself brought the team to a division championship and we were on our way.
“Two years later, I was fired. We failed epically. And I was leading the ship. We failed on the field. We failed off the field. We ended up having the worst record in all of football that year. I was fired. Compounding that, making matters even worse, during my last month with the Kansas City Chiefs, a player that I loved dearly, that I thought I knew very well, murdered his girlfriend one Saturday morning before a game. He came to the office after murdering her. He came to the office to speak to me. I talked to him in the parking lot. Minutes later, I watched him shoot himself in the head.”
It appeared as though Pioli might break down, but he remained composed and continued his story.
“A month later, I was fired. I earned that firing, just like I had earned the success I had before,” Pioli said. “My point in telling that story is not for sympathy. It’s not for anything. I remember after that happened, because I was the person in the parking lot with him, trying to talk him out of it, people were trying to victimize me in the sense that they felt so sorry for me. It’s horrible — a horrible tragedy.”
“But in that moment, and even today,it was a tragic thing that I watched happen in front of me. But I wasn’t a victim. The victims were the parents of the young lady that was murdered. The victims were his parents. The victim was the small child that was left alone in this world without any parents. I saw something horrible, but I was not a victim. I was not going to allow myself to be victimized.
“It was in that moment I learned about real resiliency. And it was at that moment when I was fired, that I had to figure things out. I looked to the people that I loved and the people who loved me and looked to me. And they helped me. We’re all going to have tragedies in our life. We’re all going to have failures. Some of them will be small failures. Some of them will be epic failure. I encourage you: when that happens, be still, listen, pray and move forward.”
Pioli later was hired as the Falcons’ assistant general manager, a job he quit last week.
Here is the entire commencement speech, and Pioli talks about his time with the Chiefs around the 11:30 mark: