NFL Network Danyelle Sargent: Tragedy in KC and How Violence Against Women Must Stop

While many of us were moving through our normal Saturday morning routines, things were far from normal in Kansas City. Those routines would be interrupted abruptly as we learned about the murder-suicide involving 25 year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Javon Belcher, how he took the life of 22 year-old Kasandra Perkins (his girlfriend and mother of their three month-old daughter, Zoey Michelle Belcher), and then proceeded to take his own life in the parking lot of the Chiefs’ practice facility, we struggled to comprehend the enormous tragedy that was unfolding.

Where do you begin and how do you make sense of it?

I worked in Kansas City from 2004-2006 and covered the Chiefs, so when I heard about this terrible news, I knew the Chiefs organization and the greater Kansas City community would be reeling. This is a franchise that has been suffered a lot of tragedy in recent years, including the death of Hall of Fame linebacker, Derrick Thomas. There are no words to express how sad and unbelievable this horrific event that has been framed by the game of football is. I say framed by the game of football, because Belcher was a professional athlete, played for an NFL franchise, and ultimately took his own life after killing his girlfriend. All in the shadow of one of the most storied venues in pro football, Arrowhead Stadium, and just one day before the Chiefs were scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers. Were Belcher not a pro football player, you would have to wonder if anyone outside the Kansas City metropolitan would have heard about this murder-suicide.

Thirteen years ago, Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver, Rae Carruth, hired a friend to shoot Cherica Adams, a woman whom Carruth had been dating at the time. When Cherica Adams was shot and killed, she was also eight months pregnant at the time. Her child was saved and Carruth was found hiding in the trunk of a car in Tennessee. Carruth would be ultimately be found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes, but spared the death penalty. Adams is dead at the hands of her former boyfriend, but Carruth is somehow scheduled for release from prison in 2018.

Cherica Adams and Kasandra Perkins were both girlfriends to pro football players and both lost their lives to violent acts committed against them by their significant others. There is no reason Adams, Perkins – or any other woman – should ever lose her life to violent acts committed against her by the man who is supposedly closest to her.

We hear about the high-profile cases but rarely about the every-day cases, like the one Mike Lupica pointed out in his NY Daily News article yesterday, referring to an incident where 53 year-old Peter Jones shot and killed his wife, 39 year-old Elsie Jones, then shot and killed himself. Peter Jones’ actions left behind an eight year-old child who will have to grow up without either of them. The same way three month-old, Zoey Michelle Belcher, will grow up without having either of her parents around.

Unfortunately, situations like this occur all too often in our world and the violence against women has to stop. This is not the first incident. But it needs to be the last.

The remarks Chiefs’ quarterback Brady Quinn made in his post-game press conference were poignant.  Quinn stated, “The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people. I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently. When you ask someone how you are doing, do they really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?”

Quinn continued, “We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us.  Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”

There is no telling whether it would have made a difference with what happened with Belcher. Nonetheless, we need to value human interaction more and really work toward preventing these tragedies from happening.