NFL Plans To Play Chiefs-Panthers Game As Scheduled After Jovan Belcher Suicide

The NFL intends for the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Carolina Panthers to go on as scheduled, despite Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher’s suicide early Saturday at the team’s practice facility.

The 25-year-old Chiefs player fatally shot his girlfriend on Saturday morning, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide as his coach and general manager pleaded with him not to, police said. Jovan Belcher reportedly thanked Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel for all they had done for him before killing himself, a police representative said.

The initial killing happened in the presence of the mother of Jovan Belcher’s girlfriend, who had not been identified by police.

“When we arrived, a lady informed us that her daughter had been shot multiple times by her boyfriend, by the daughter’s boyfriend,” police spokesperson Darin Snapp told The Associated Press. “She identified him as a Chiefs player.”

When police found Jovan Belcher at the Chiefs practice facility, he was holding a gun to his head.

“And there were Pioli and Crennel and another coach or employee was standing outside and appeared to be talking to him. It appeared they were talking to the suspect,” 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.”

Crennel and Pioli told police they never felt in danger from Belcher.

Despite the player’s death just a little more than a day before the game, the NFL intends for the Chiefs-Panthers game to go on as scheduled, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports noted on Twitter.

The NFL’s decision not to cancel the game was seen as insensitive by some observers. The league has been known to delay games due to unforeseen circumstances. When the Metrodome’s roof collapsed in December 2010 due to a heavy snowstorm, the NFL shifted the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game from Sunday to Monday night. However, games for the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins went on as scheduled in recent years after the deaths of players Chris Henry and Sean Taylor.