By Danny Cox
The somber mood at Jovan Belcher‘s memorial service on Wednesday came from Kansas City Chiefs players of the past and present. Over the weekend, the former Chiefs linebacker killed his girlfriend and then shot himself, and it has led to much controversy and great sadness.
Practice was moved up on Wednesday so that players could attend the afternoon service at the Landmark International Deliverance and Worship Center. That was where Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins worshiped.
Media was not allowed inside.
Bobby Bell, retired Chief and Hall of Famer, said that Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and Belcher’s uncle spoke during the service.
“It’s done and over with and people need to get on with their lives, and the team needed to try to get forward,” Bell said. “It’s tough on them. When you see somebody and play with them, you’re buddies, friends.”
A number of other players including Ryan Succop, Derrick Johnson, Ropatisp Pitoitua were all there, but did not want to be interviewed after the service. Offensive lineman Ryan Lilja did speak to the press and hopes that this will bring some closure to the team, Belcher’s family, and his friends.
“You got to try to deal with it however you deal with it, and grieve the best way for the individual,” he said, “and I think this is the best way for us as a team to get closure and move on and focus on football.”
With all this sadness and grief, there also comes controversy.
On the same day as Belcher’s memorial service, the 911 tapes from the morning he shot his girlfriend were also released. Many people are extremely unhappy that the tapes were released to the press and public. Among those upset at their release is the mother of Jovan Belcher, Cheryl Shepherd.
“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 call made by Shepherd, she can be heard begging with Perkins, the mother of Belcher’s three-month-old daughter, to stay alive. She tries to explain what may have happened to a 911 dispatcher, but then is heard trying to get Perkins to stay with her and not go away.
“She’s still breathing but please hurry,” Cheryl Shepherd says on the recording of her call with Kansas City emergency dispatchers. “I don’t know how he (inaudible), they were arguing, please hurry.”
“Stay with me, the ambulance is on the way. Stay with me Kasandra, stay with me,” Shepherd yells.
Numerous friends and others have said that Belcher and Perkins had a strained relationship in the weeks leading up to the tragic incident. They even had split up recently, but had gotten back together by Thanksgiving.
No matter what has happened though and whatever the reasons may be, Shepherd let it be known that she still cares deeply for them both.
“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 refused to say anything else regarding her son, Perkins, or the 911 tapes. Nor should she even be asked to. With Belcher’s memorial service having happened on Wednesday, it is now time to let the family officially grieve and do whatever is possible for them to move forward.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.