Nationals

Belcher's mom says she loves son, slain girlfriend

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Belcher's mom says she loves son, slain girlfriend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The days since Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend then shot himself in the head have been very difficult for his mother, who said Wednesday that the slayings have not diminished her love for the couple.

Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, had been living with the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker and 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins to help care for their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, and was at the couple's home Saturday morning when Perkins was shot.

``That's my son, and I love him,'' Shepherd said in a brief telephone conversation Wednesday. ``She's my daughter-in-law, just like my daughter.''

Shepherd declined to say anything more about her son.

Belcher shot Perkins at their Kansas City home then drove with a handgun to Arrowhead Stadium, where he thanked Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel for all they had done for him. The men tried to persuade Belcher to put the gun down, but when police arrived, Belcher moved behind a vehicle in the practice facility's parking lot, knelt down and shot himself in the head, police said.

Shepherd, 54, said she was not happy about the release Wednesday of recordings of the emergency phone call she made Saturday after Perkins was shot.

``I just got a phone call that they did that, and I don't appreciate it,'' she said. ``Right now I don't want to talk about it.''

In the emergency call, Shepherd begs Perkins to ``stay with me'' while frantically asking for an ambulance. She tells the dispatcher that Perkins is ``still breathing but please hurry. ... They were arguing, please hurry.''

Shepherd also told dispatchers that Perkins was bleeding, ``just barely'' awake and that it looked as though she was wounded in the back. She said Perkins moved when she spoke to her.

When a police dispatcher asked about Belcher, Shepherd says only: ``He left.''

Police arrived at the home about 7:50 a.m. They said in an incident report that they found Perkins' body on the floor of the master bathroom. She had been shot multiple times.

Shepherd, who has temporary custody of the couple's baby, said she and Perkins were very close.

``She was a lovely, beautiful young woman. And we had a beautiful relationship,'' Shepherd said.

The estate or guardian of Belcher's 3-month-old daughter will receive more than $1 million under terms of the NFL's collective-bargaining agreement.

The child stands to receive $108,000 annually over the next four years, $48,000 in the fifth year and then $52,000 each year until age 18. She'll continue to receive that amount until age 23 if she attends college.

The beneficiary of Belcher, who was in his fourth season, also will receive $600,000 in life insurance, plus $200,000 for each credited season. There is also $100,000 in a retirement account that will go to his beneficiary or estate.

Players' beneficiaries are kept confidential.

Shepherd said family members have been helping her a great deal since the shootings, but that she had trouble eating and sleeping while working on her son's funeral arrangements.

Mourners, including several Chiefs players, attended an hourlong private memorial service for Belcher on Wednesday in Kansas City. Retired Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said afterward that Pioli and Belcher's uncle spoke during the service. He said it was ``rough'' on Pioli.

``This is a sad situation,'' Bell said. ``You never want to be put under those situations. Never. It's not good. You don't want to see things like that. I don't know how they got through it.''

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AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta and AP Writer Heather Hollingsworth contributed to this report.

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Familiarity makes Matt Adams’ return to the Nationals an easy call

Familiarity makes Matt Adams’ return to the Nationals an easy call

Comfort carries allure for most. That includes Matt Adams.

He knew when traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in August a chance for a return to Washington existed. Adams got along with all levels of staff while operating quietly at his locker and pulverizing right-handed pitching on the field. The hole he filled in 2018 would exist again in 2019, so why couldn’t he return?

It all seems so simple, and it turned out to be. Adams’ one-year deal for $4 million, which includes a mutual option for 2020, was announced Tuesday by the Nationals after first being reported during the weekend. The left-handed bench piece Washington needed is in place for this season. It could well be back in 2020 when the team’s first base personnel could undergo a large change if Ryan Zimmerman’s option is not picked up.

“I don’t follow too much of the media stuff in the offseason,” Adams said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

“But the way that everything was left when I was traded, we were on good communication, up until that point. Everything that was said leading up to that trade, if the opportunity presented itself [to return] I would be on their list. I’m kind of lost for words, because I’m excited for this opportunity. But I think the team is definitely going to be better than it was last year, with the acquisitions that [Mike Rizzo] has made so far this offseason.”

Adams is pleased he’s not hunting a job until late into February. More frequently role players are without homes for most of, if not all of, the pre-spring training portion of the offseason. Adams is settled a week before Christmas.

“For me, the way my brain and myself works, the later I sign, the more freaked out I'm going to be,” Adams said. “Because it's the unknown that's out there. Not knowing where you're going to go, how many people you're going to know on that team you're going to sign with...For me, I was lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to sign back with the Nats where I know everybody and I get along with absolutely everybody from front office to coaches and all the players. For me, it felt like the right opportunity and I was just fortunate to get the deal done when we got it done.”

Adams’ value lays in his potency against right-handed pitching. He hit 20 of his 21 home runs last season against right-handers. This is in line with his career arc that includes 83 of his 96 home runs against right-handed throwers. Adams also slugged .538 against right-handed pitchers while with the Nationals last season. 

He’s again positioned to platoon at first base and be summoned to hit late in games. Adams played much more often than anticipated last season following Zimmerman’s languishing oblique injury. 

“I think it’s just coming up with that mindset of being ready whether your name’s called or not,” Adams said. “Whether it’s on an everyday basis or, like you said, sporadic, here and there, pinch-hitting off the bench, filling in and giving Zim a blow when he needs it. But I think going into spring training in the best shape I can possibly be in, going in ready to get better, ready to work. And wherever the season takes me playing-time wise, I’m just excited to be on a winning club with a good chance to get back to the postseason.”

Bringing Adams back reduces the Nationals’ offseason list. They need a fourth starter. They are considering a full-time second baseman. Another bench option is also part of the hunt, though it’s reliant on what happens at second base (Wilmer Difo/Howie Kendrick could fill that spot if an every day second baseman is signed). Left-handed bench bat is spoken for.

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What’s Christmas like in North Pole, Alaska? Cold, says Pheonix Copley of his hometown

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What’s Christmas like in North Pole, Alaska? Cold, says Pheonix Copley of his hometown

Ever wonder what Christmas at the North Pole is like? Just ask someone who’s been there like Capitals goalie Pheonix Copley.

Copley calls the North Pole home. North Pole, Alaska that is.

North Pole is a small town outside of Fairbanks (population of 2,232). Copley wears two candy canes on the bottom of his goalie mask in tribute to his hometown.

As you would expect, Christmas is a big deal back home, not just in December but year round. Santa Claus Lane cuts through the center of town and visitors can see the Santa Claus House located on St. Nicholas Drive.

“They definitely try and make it a theme in the town,” Copley said. “Light poles and stuff are candy canes, Christmas lights year round at places, businesses.”

Christmas itself, however, is more low-key for the people there than you would expect, according to Copley. As fun as the town name may be, there is one big drawback to December in North Pole: the weather.

“It's so cold up there, it's like not much really to do outside [at Christmas],” Copley said. “They do do ice sculptures and stuff so they go a little bit with it, but it's so cold and dark that not a whole lot going on up there.”

According to The Weather Channel, the forecast for Christmas day calls for a high of -8 degrees. That is a veritable heat-wave considering it is not supposed to get above -13 degrees in the five days leading up to Christmas. You can also expect there to be less than four hours of daylight.

That may sound miserable to some, but Copley always enjoyed making the trip home for the holidays.

“Especially growing up when I first started leaving, I was going home at Christmas and it was nice to see the whole family again and get to celebrate the holidays and stuff,” he said. “For myself, Christmas has always been a fun time. Just being from North Pole, I always get a lot of jokes and stuff about it.”

Now on the other side of the country and with only a few days between games, Copley will not make the long trip back home during the team’s Christmas break. Instead, he will remain in D.C. and, as he admitted, will enjoy a warmer Christmas.

But he still wouldn’t mind a little snow.

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