KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The fog that hovered over much of the Kansas City area Sunday morning dissipated a few hours before the Chiefs and Panthers took the field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Under sunny skies and temperatures that surpassed 60 on the second day of December, children tossed footballs in the parking lots while tailgaters grilled burgers and music blared. Just prior to kickoff, the Chiefs’ mascot raced up and down the field on an ATV with fireworks shooting from the back, cheerleaders waved pom-poms and military jets zoomed overhead.
Other than a brief moment of silence dedicated to all the victims of domestic violence and their families, the game had the look and field of a typical NFL Sunday.
But for those affected by the events the previous morning, when Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher committed suicide by shooting himself in the head outside the team’s practice facility just minutes after he shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins—the mother of the couple’s 3-month-old daughter, Zoe—in a nearby neighborhood, it was anything but a typical football game.
The battle between the teams with a combined four wins entering the day went off on schedule after Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and the team’s captains decided to play the game instead of postponing it. Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli had been present when the 25-year-old Belcher took his life in a parking lot just outside the stadium.