Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher played football at the University of Maine, where he graduated with a degree in child development and family relations. We now know that he also joined the Male Athletes Against Violence initiative on campus. He was not drafted by the NFL, but was signed as a free agent by the Chiefs.
He worked hard, played with heart, and started 41 of 43 games under head coach Romeo Crennel. A Chiefs player called him “one of everyone’s favorite teammates.” Last offseason he signed a one-year contract for $1.927 million, bought a Bentley, leased a home in a prestigious neighborhood, and invited Kasandra Perkins to live with him. They had a daughter together three months ago, Zoey Michelle.
Saturday morning, Belcher and Perkins began arguing. Around 7:50 AM, Belcher shot Perkins nine times. He then drove 15 minutes to Arrowhead Stadium, where he stood in the parking lot and spoke with general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel, and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. According to his agent, he wanted to thank them “for helping his dream of being an NFL player come true.” He then turned his back to them, put his gun to his head, and pulled the trigger.
Do you know a Jovan Belcher? How would you know? What could you do to help?
Chiefs Quarterback Brady Quinn: “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.”
Quinn is right, of course, but how do we help people if we have no idea they are hurting so deeply? Consider Jesus’ invitation: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from him” (John 7:37-38). John explains: “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (v. 39).
If we start every day by going to the Spirit’s well for the water and wisdom we need, the omniscient God of the universe will empower and use us as his instruments of grace in a grieving world. Before you meet a potential Jovan Belcher today, would you meet first with your King and Lord?