Football is a sport in which brute strength and being able to control one’s fate through physicality and quick reactions are praised. It’s also a sport in which one has to be able to perform amid the kind of pain that a car crash survivor might experience.
It also requires that the pain be controlled by prescription drugs. And if painkillers don’t do the trick, aching players often add alcohol to the mix.
It’s such a problem that last year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and players’ union leader DeMaurice Smith met to discuss what to do about drinking and driving in the league; in 2010, there were 16 DUI arrests among players and around 19 in 2012.
Police investigators say that alcohol may have played a role in the argument between Belcher and Perkins that escalated into murder. Also, one of Belcher’s friends e-mailed Deadspin.com, a sports news website, and said that he “drank A LOT. On a nightly basis,” and that he was using medication heavily.
Belcher apparently went over that edge last Saturday morning, when, according to the Star, his mother said she heard him tell Perkins something to the effect of, “You can’t talk to me like that!”
Then she heard gunfire.
Belcher and Perkins had sought counseling through the Chief’s organization, but apparently it wasn’t enough. But I imagine that counseling football players can be tough when the very nature of the sport that consumes much of their life requires them to be tough and impulsive, and to cover their pain with machismo.
So here’s the love story that’ll end at a grave instead of an altar. Here’s the baby girl who was orphaned because her father killed her mother and himself.
All because he couldn’t get past his pain long enough to be there for her future.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist who is based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her at tonyaajw@twitter. Or visit her webpage and blog, “Tonyaa’s Take,” at www.tonyaajweathersbee.com.