Redskins

Murder-suicide involving Chiefs' player stuns team

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Murder-suicide involving Chiefs' player stuns team

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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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After a fight-filled start to joint practices between the Redskins and Jets, the Skins' 2018 NFL preseason schedule continues Thursday night at Fed Ex Field against New York. 

Week 2 of the NFL preseason still doesn't provide a lot of answers to questions about team performance, but it begins to reveal the depth the Redskins could have this season.

One storyline that won't be taking place, is the return of former Redskin Terrelle Pryor, who told reporters after Monday's practice he won't be playing in the game.

The Redskins have bigger things to worry about though, like who will replace rookie Derrius Guice, who's now out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Redskins also have one less name in the fight for receiver depth as well, after Robert Davis suffered a season-ending leg injury as well. 

Ahead of Thursday's preseason matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

REDSKINS vs. JETS, PRESEASON WEEK 2

Who: Washington Redskins vs. New York Jets

What: Game 2 of the 2018 NFL Preseason

When: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Fed Ex Field, Landover, MD

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Point Spread: Washington, -3

Over/Under: 39.5

Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy

REDSKINS vs. PATRIOTS TV SCHEDULE:

5:00 PM: Redskins 100
5:30 PM: Redskins Nation
6:00 PM: Best of the Sports Junkies
7:00 PM: Redskins Kickoff Live

REDSKINS 2018 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. New England Patriots, 7:30 p.m. (L, 26-17)

Week 2: Thurs., 8/16, vs. New York Jets, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

Week 3: Fri., 8/24, vs. Denver Broncos, 7:30 p.m. 

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 p.m. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

 

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Need to Know: How many Redskins starters will take the field against the Jets?

Need to Know: How many Redskins starters will take the field against the Jets?

Here is what you need to know on Thursday, August 16, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to play everybody’s favorite game, "Who the Heck is Going to Play in Tonight’s Preseason Game?

Jay Gruden has been able to play the game well, at least from his point of view. His goal is to tell the media as little as possible about his playing time plans. 

"I think defensively we will probably go that route,” Gruden said when asked if the starters will play against the Jets. “We’ll see offensively. We will wait and see who’s available to us due to injury and we’ll make that decision soon."

Let’s look at what this means for the defense first. We are likely to see first-round pick Daron Payne get his first game action in a Redskins uniform. He was still recovering from an ankle injury when the Redskins played the Patriots a week ago, although only a handful of starters participated so he may not have played anyway. Jonathan Allen sat last week as well, and he should get some snaps tonight. 

On the other hand, Matt Ioannidis suffered knee and ankle injuries against the Patriots and probably will sit this one out. 

All four starting linebackers are healthy and could play. Ryan Kerrigan (14 snaps) and Preston Smith (18) played a few series in the second preseason game against the Packers last year. Zach Brown and Mason Foster both stuck around for 20 snaps. 

In the secondary, Josh Norman has been healthy and may play. D.J. Swearinger said earlier this week that he would like to play, but he has been sitting out some practices with a minor ailment, so he may be out. I would look for significant snaps to be played by Quinton Dunbar and, especially, new top nickel cornerback Fabian Moreau. 

On offense, the rehab schedule probably says that Jordan Reed, Trent Williams, and Morgan Moses are out. If the two starting tackles are out, you have to wonder if Gruden will put Alex Smith out there. I think that it’s likely that Smith will make his debut in a Redskins uniform, especially after he sat out last week, but it’s no sure thing. 

We should see the starting interior line of Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, and Brandon Scherff as well as running back Rob Kelley. Paul Richardson is a good bet to line up at wide receiver, but Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson may sit due to minor injuries

So, out of the currently anticipated 22 Week 1 starters, 15 should see action if Smith plays. That may not make the game worth the price of regular-season admission but we could have a quarter or so of reasonably good football. 

Bureau of statistics

Last year, 19 of the players who started in Week 1 against the Eagles started the second preseason game. 

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The agenda

Today: Redskins vs. Jets 8 p.m. ESPN

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 8 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 16 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 24 days

In case you missed it

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