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Police: Chiefs' Belcher kills girlfriend, self

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Police: Chiefs' Belcher kills girlfriend, self

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) It began like any other Saturday for the Kansas City Chiefs during the NFL season, their general manager and coach at work early to put final touches on this weekend's gameplan. Then they got a call to hurry to the parking lot.

The two men rushed through the glass doors of Chiefs headquarters and came face-to-face with linebacker Jovan Belcher, holding a handgun to his head.

Belcher had already killed his girlfriend and sped the short distance to Arrowhead Stadium, right past a security checkpoint guarding the entrance. Upon finding his bosses, Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel for giving him a chance in the NFL. Then he turned away and pulled the trigger.

The murder-suicide shocked a franchise that has been dealing with controversies now made trivial by comparison: eight consecutive losses, injuries too numerous to count, discontent among fans and the prospect that Pioli and Crennel could be fired at season's end.

Authorities did not release a possible motive while piecing together the case, other than to note that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing frequently.

The two of them left behind a 3-month-old girl. She was being cared for by family.

The Chiefs issued a statement that said their game Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers would go on as scheduled, even as the franchise tried to come to grips with the awfulness of Belcher's death.

``The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy,'' Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in brief a statement.

A spokesman for the team told The Associated Press that Crennel plans to coach on Sunday.

``I can tell you that you have absolutely no idea what it's like to see someone kill themselves,'' said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who spoke to Pioli shortly after the shootings.

``You can take your worst nightmare and put someone you know and love in that situation, and give them a gun and stand three feet away and watch them kill themselves. That's what it's like,'' James said. ``It's unfathomable.''

Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn told The Kansas City Star that when the team met later Saturday morning, Crennel broke the news to them.

``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.''

But Quinn said the team was so stunned, it was hard to digest what had happened.

``It's hard mostly because I keep thinking about what I could have done to stop this,'' he said. ``I think everyone is wondering whether we would have done something to prevent this from happening.''

The 25-year-old Belcher was from West Babylon, N.Y., and played college football at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, made the team and hung around the past four years, eventually moving into the starting lineup. He played in all 11 games this season.

The NFL released a statement expressing sympathy and pledging ``to provide assistance in any way that we can.'' The players' association has also been in touch with members of the Chiefs.

``We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted,'' Hunt said. ``We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.''

The drama unfolded early Saturday when authorities received a call from a woman who said her daughter had been shot multiple times at a residence about five miles from the Arrowhead complex. The call came from Belcher's mother, who referred to the victim as her daughter.

``She treated Kasandra like a daughter,'' Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp said, adding that the woman had recently moved in with the couple, ``probably to help out with the baby.''

Police then got a phone call from the Chiefs' training facility, and Belcher's description matched the suspect description from the initial address. Snapp said officers pulled into the practice facility parking lot in a matter of minutes, in time to witness the suicide.

``Pioli and Crennel and another coach or employee was standing outside and appeared to be talking to him,'' Snapp said. ``The suspect began to walk in the opposite direction of the coaches and the officers and that's when they heard the gunshot. It appears he took his own life.''

The coaches told police they never felt in any danger.

``They said the player was actually thanking them for everything they'd done for him,'' Snapp said. ``He was thanking them and everything. That's when he walked away and shot himself.''

Members of the Chiefs mostly laid low Saturday, but a few reacted on Twitter.

``I am devastated by this mornings events,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali wrote. ``I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everyone effected by this tragedy.''

A large group of Belcher's friends and relatives gathered Saturday at his boyhood home on Long Island.

His family turned the front yard into a shrine, with a large poster of Belcher, an array of his trophies, and jerseys and jackets from Kansas City, Maine and West Babylon High.

``He was a good, good person ... a family man. A loving guy,'' said family friend Ruben Marshall, who said he coached Belcher in youth football. ``You couldn't be around a better person.''

At least 20 people gathered for a large group hug in the driveway.

``He was a tremendous player and all those things, and his accolades speak for themselves, but he lit up when he spoke about his mom, or when he hugged his family after games,'' said Dwayne Wilmot, who was Belcher's position coach at Maine and is now an assistant coach at Yale.

``It's difficult to talk about Jovan in the past tense,'' he told the AP. ``There's going to be unanswered questions, the why's of this tragedy. It'll never be truly known to us.''

Wilmot said he'd stayed in touch with Belcher the past few years through social media.

``He was someone who took genuine pleasure in bringing happiness to others,'' Wilmot said. ``I was so excited when he became a father, because I knew he'd be a great father.''

His girlfriend's Facebook page shows the couple smiling and holding the baby.

Belcher is the latest among several players and NFL retirees to die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds during the past few years. The death of star linebacker Junior Seau, who shot himself in the chest in at his California home last May, sent shockwaves around the league.

Seau's family, like those of other suicide victims, donated his brain tissue to medical authorities to determine if head injuries he sustained playing football might be linked to his death. That report has not been released, although an autopsy showed no underlying hemorrhaging or bruises on Seau's brain.

Belcher did not have an extensive injury history, though he was listed as having a head injury on a report from Nov. 11, 2009. Belcher played four days later against the Oakland Raiders.

Earlier this year, the NFL provided a grant to help establish an independently operated phone service that connects players, coaches, team officials and other staff with counselors trained to work through personal and emotional crises. The NFL Life Line is available 24 hours a day.

The season has been a massive disappointment for the Chiefs, who were expected to contend for the AFC West title. They're 1-10 and mired in an eight-game skid marked by injuries, poor play and fan upheaval. During the past few weeks there have been constant calls for Pioli and Crennel to be fired.

It's unknown how the Chiefs plan to pay tribute to Belcher during Sunday's game.

``His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams,'' said Jack Cosgrove, who coached Belcher at Maine. ``This is an indescribably horrible tragedy.''

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Associated Press Writers Heather Hollingsworth and Frank Eltman contributed to this report.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed the making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

More Redskins

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

With a thrilling double-overtime victory in Game 3, the Capitals are right back in the series. Trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1, the Caps will look to even up the series at 2-games apiece before returning to Washington for Game 5.

As the Caps take the ice for Game 4, you can be certain that Braden Holtby will be the man to lead the team in net. His stellar performance in Game 3 resolidified him as the team' starter and ended whatever goalie tandem there was between him and Philipp Grubauer.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 4

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Columbus currently leads the series 2-1.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE