by Denis G. Campbell
We are not a sport publication but every so often a sports story captures everyone’s imagination because of the immenseness of the tragedy. Last Saturday an American football player with the Kansas City Chiefs, linebacker Jovan Belcher, snapped and, allegedly, shot his girlfriend 9 times killing her. Together they were the parents of a three month old baby. Belcher then drove himself to the Chief’s practice facility where, in sight of his coach, general manager and a few team mates, he turned that same gun on and killed himself.
Political opportunists on all sides were quick to blame sport violence, concussions sustained paying the game and the USA’s rampant gun culture for the tragedy.
I instead must blame the young man for taking another’s life. He then blamed himself and exited the situation. The team voted and decided despite the tragedy occurring the day before a big game, they would play it anyways.
What happened after the game, a rare victory for a side that has struggled, was a series of emotion filled uplifting speeches from coaches and managers and the release of a lot of tears and pent up emotion from giants of men.
Of those who spoke, it was a simple statement from 2nd string, now starting quarterback Brady Quinn, that summed up the emotions of this day. I’ll let his remarks speak for themselves:
“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 could I have done differently?
When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it?
When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?
“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.”
Dan Patrick of The Dan Patrick Show radio and television programme on NBCSports network on DirectTV called it “powerful, Aaron Sorkin-esque” during his programme Monday.
Mike Florio of NBC Sports Football Night in America and the blog Pro Football Talk though summed it up better than anyone:
“I don’t care about Quinn’s performance or the fact the Chiefs won. Quinn’s post-game remarks were eloquent and heartfelt and they captured perfectly one of the things we risk losing as a society that communicates primarily in snippets of misspelled words and emoticons.
These are words that we should all study, and heed. I’ll be printing them out, keeping a copy on my desk, and reminding my son of Quinn’s thoughts whenever I can.
It’s impossible to know whether greater sensitivity by those around Jovan Belcher could have prevented Saturday’s events. Chances are it wouldn’t have mattered. But the lesson is that we should all be more attentive to the people whose lives are intertwined with ours, through our families or our friends or our places of work. We enter and exit this world alone, but we are in between those moments part of a broad and complex fabric that both provides us with support and commands it from us.
Let’s remember that the next time — and every time — we’re more worried about interacting with someone who isn’t in the room than someone who is.”
We will Mike.
Coach Romeo Crennel said in his locker room speech: “You did something really good today, really good. You overcame a lot, stuck together as a team, helped each other. Family and friends, you relied on those people. You relied on your faith to help get you through this. We got through it in a grand way because everybody made a contribution, everybody helped. And that’s what a team is about. You did a very nice job about that. The win was a very good win.”
General Manager Clark Hunt added: “I want to tell you guys how proud I am of everybody in this room. What you guys fought through in the last day and a half is just unbelievable. I’m just so proud of you. I’m so proud of the coaching staff they did in the job leading you guys. Truthfully, every man in here deserves a game ball today but we’re a family so we’re going to have one game ball that’s going to the entire team. I’m going to give it to coach Crennel to hang onto for the team because he did a fantastic job.”
Let’s also remember that when this publication pulls off the sport desk cover? It is usually for something we all need to learn.