While no one will quite understand how or why the Chiefs-Colts playoff game ended quite how it did, it’s time to move forward – Kansas City had a huge comeback in 2013, and hopefully can progress even more as NFL free agency and the draft approach. Unfortunately, despite optimism, the Chiefs must look back to last season’s murder-suicide by former player Jovan Belcher, following his mother’s filing of a wrongful-death lawsuit against the team.
After nine players came forth over the past month regarding faulty care of head injuries by Chiefs’ physicians and trainers, Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepard, was the latest to take legal action against the team.
According to Shepard’s lawsuit, her son suffered unpredictable mood swings as his career with the Chiefs progressed, and he historically had been a “loving father, son, teammate and advocate for victims of domestic violence.” While the lawsuit filed by former Chiefs players cites careless treatment of concussions and other major head injuries, Shepard believes that her son’s time with the Chiefs caused him to endure negativity and harassment from high-level Chiefs management.
Perhaps the combination of this intense environment, coupled with Belcher’s potential neurological damage (research will be done on his exhumed body and brain) caused him to snap on that December day last year. According to Shepard, Belcher was so involved with the Male Athletes Against Violence organization that such drastic actions were wildly out of character for her son, and his disposition prior to his time with the Chiefs would’ve never warranted this homicidal behavior.
Shepard’s lawsuit, along with the lawsuit from late November and December, are definitely cause for alarm for Kansas City. While players seemingly bounced back after hearing of their teammate’s horrendous actions, the franchise itself might not be so lucky. Should Shepard’s lawsuit be successful on her (and her son’s) behalf, high level management will suffer.
However, the exposure of Belcher’s serious mental issues in connection to the Chiefs could signal major fallacies in the NFL system. Chances are, the injuries swept under the rug by league teams are numerous and aren’t limited to Kansas City. If Shepard’s lawsuit is successful, which unfortunately may not be known for at least a year as evidence is collected, major changes to Chiefs’ policies could cause sweeping changes across the nation.
Kansas City has a lot to focus on in 2014: The fate of the draft, renewed strategies against dynamic teams and continuing momentum off a great year. However, the well-being of Chiefs players has become a major concern, and watching the outcome of the Belcher trial will have a huge impact on the team overall moving forward.
People on Twitter last night compared the Chiefs to Auburn, and it wasn’t very nice.