A commentator at CNN on Sunday suggested the Kansas City Chiefs’ uncommon victory over the Carolina Panthers Saturday was a tribute to linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins and himself the previous day.
That made me gag. This murderer, who left his child an orphan and then took the coward’s way out rather than face justice, needs a tribute like Bin Laden needs a holiday.
Fortunately, the team saw it differently. Coach Romeo Crenell, who witnessed Belcher’s suicide, made an admirable decision not only for the team to play the scheduled game but to push past his own traumatic stress to lead the team. The victory sends the message that the team will go on just fine without Belcher.
“It’s tough when circumstances happen, you can’t undo them, and so you have to rely on each other, you have to rely on your family, your friends and rely on your faith,” Crennel told CBS News, which also reported that team members are starting a fund for the couple’s three-year-old daughter.
But the most fitting gesture was by the team management and owners to hold a moment of silence before Saturday’s game dedicated to domestic violence victims and their families everywhere. Privately, team members will have to deal with their mixed emotions about the fate of their friend. “He was a player on this team,” offensive tackle Eric Winston told USA Today. “We’re all struggling to reconcile the conflicting emotions we have about a family member, a teammate and the tragic events that took place yesterday. It’s hard.”
But as far as the public display goes, it reminded me of the aftermath of the far deadlier Dr. Baruch Goldstein in 1994, after gunning down 29 Muslims at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Israel took great pains to avoid his being treated as a martyr. In 1999, after the Knesset passed a law banning monuments to terrorists, the army actually bulldozed a prayer area and shrine at his gravesite in Kiryat Arba.
Because sympathy and prayer in such cases should be directed only toward the victims.