When I woke up this past Saturday morning, I turned on my television to hear the ever-disturbing news about Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Belcher, the father of a three-month-old daughter, murdered his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, just before 8 a.m. on Saturday. Shortly after, Belcher drove to the Chiefs practice facility where he turned the gun on himself in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
Since the tragedy, many have tried to figure out why Belcher would do something like this. As a student-athlete at the University of Maine, Belcher was part of a group named Male Athletes Against Violence and was described as “an unbelievable role model” by his former high school coach. However, reports surfaced that his friends claimed he had been taking painkillers and drinking everyday to help deal with the effects of football-related head injuries. In fact, some believe that Belcher was suffering from a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this.
On May 3 of this year, former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was only 43 years old. Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson committed suicide back in February of 2011, when he was only 50. Both were suspected of struggling to deal with debilitating brain injuries they received during their playing days.
To break it down quite simply, football, is just a sport. Sports, especially football are meant to be fun, entertaining and exciting. They’re not meant to be the middle-man towards death, especially suicide. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that’s exactly what the sport of football has become.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the sport. But as I say that, I do also believe that football has a ticking clock on its existence.
How many more suicides or murders can be committed before we realize the root of this problem? Football isn’t a contact sport, it’s a collision sport, and those same collisions are leading towards countless concussions, loss of memory and physical ability and, most importantly, the loss of lives.
Roger Goodell and the NFL can throw all the money they want at medical and safety research, but no amount of money can retract the violent, brain-jarring hits that NFL players sustain week-in and week-out. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: The sport of football will cease to exist by the end of my lifetime, because the loss of lives isn’t worth the excitement of full speed collisions.