So, it’s been quite a couple of weeks in the world of sports. I’m sure our boxing fans out there were shocked by that knockout of Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night didn’t see that one coming.
And, unfortunately, as we all know by now, there were two shocking NFL tragedies that folks may have seen coming.
Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher killed the mother of his three-month old daughter and then himself on Dec 1 and Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent was arrested this past weekend for intoxication manslaughter after his car flipped over, killing his best friend and teammate Jerry Brown..
Two horrific incidents, a week apart, involving the premature deaths of 25 year old football players, and an innocent mother.
I can’t stop thinking about the families affected. Belcher’s mother who was in the house when her son shot his girlfriend and who then suffered the loss of her son, the little girl who will now grow up without her parents.
There are a lot of opinions out there on who is to blame. Some have said guns or a lack of gun control is the problem, some suggest money, fame, youth and a culture of drugs and alcohol are at fault.
Others say the only ones at fault are the two men who committed these terrible crimes.
Whatever you may think, three young people are dead and we need to consider if there were ways of preventing these tragedies, and future ones like them, especially since there were telltale signs in both cases.
The Chiefs knew Belcher was having issues and, to their credit, they were reportedly working with him and Brent had been arrested for DWI while at the University of Illinois and spent time in county jail.
Michael Biello, a marketing agent who represents high-profile NFL players, recently suggested every team should have independent counselors that players can talk to 24/7 if they are going through a personal crisis, independent and confidential because many players won’t come forward out of concern for their employment and playing time.
Would it have made a difference for Brent who’d already been arrested for DWI before? for Belcher whose ongoing problems with his baby’s mother were well known? No one knows for sure.
Still, it may have, at least, created an environment where these players could have seen some way out.
Because—as we are reminded this holiday season—the game of life is much bigger than the game of football. In football, a loss means you can try again next week or next season. In life, a loss can be final.
I’ll end with these important words from Belcher teammate, Brady Quinn:
“The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people… When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?”