KANSAS CITY, MO - Before the Kansas City Chiefs kicked off their game Sunday, fans at Arrowhead Stadium observed a moment of silence for the victims of domestic violence and their families.
Not mentioned was Javon Belcher, the Chiefs linebacker who killed his girlfriend and then himself a day earlier, across the parking lot from the stadium.
Barely more than 24 hours later, fans grilled, played catch and enjoyed beverages on an unseasonably warm and sunny day.
The festive atmosphere masked some of the pain Chiefs fans felt after hearing that Belcher had killed 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, then drove to the team practice facility and turned the gun on himself. The couple had an infant daughter.
Coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli had tried to stop Belcher, and watched powerless as he shot himself in the head after thanking both of them for giving him a chance in the NFL.
"To have to witness that, I don't think you would wish that on your worst enemy," Chiefs fan Ty Rowton said. "That memory will never, ever leave them."
Missing from the sky above Arrowhead Stadium was the small plane that had carried a banner during previous home games calling for Pioli's firing. Fans, many of whom had been wearing black Chiefs apparel in recent games to protest the team's performance, turned out in red again.
"Now everybody's just in shock," Rowton said.
Arrowhead was less than half full, and quieter than usual, though the fans made some noise when Peyton Hillis scored a touchdown. The big running back took the ball over to the sideline, where he handed it to Crennel and gave the coach a big hug.
Chiefs fan Ben Cunningham, a 32-year-old who has missed only one home game in 23 years, said he feels sorry for the families and friends who now must endure the aftermath of Saturday's shootings, but not for Belcher.
"I don't have much sympathy for him," Cunningham said. "He caused a lot of heartbreak for a lot of people."
Copyright Associated Press
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