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Javon Belcher Is Not The Victim; He’s A Murderer

Is anyone on the Kansas City Chiefs mad at Jovan Belcher, murderer? He killed a 22-year-old woman, leaving a three-month old motherless. He did this in a house with his mother in a nearby room. And yet his jersey still hangs in the team’s locker room as some sort of twisted memorial.

Not cool.

If he died as former Chief running back Joe Delaney did in 1983, drowning while trying to rescue three children in a lake, or as former K.C. linebacker Derrick Thomas did tragically from a massive blood clot resulting from a car accident in 2000 . . . then such a display would be appropriate.

Delaney’s and Thomas’ names and numbers reside on the Arrowhead Stadium Ring of Honor – an appropriate place for fallen players who did not die from their own hand.

Belcher killed himself – after killing his girlfriend. And for that, he should be shunned like poison ivy.

It is a tragedy that Belcher, 25, took his own life after gunning down his girlfriend, but with the murder should come disassociation and anger, not sympathy.

This is not a cold-hearted approach, but one born of empathy for Kasandra Perkins and her parent-less child; for her family that grieves the unnecessary death a loved one, including her cousin – the wife of Belcher teammate Jamaal Charles – who introduced her to the athlete that would take her life.

And then there is his mother, Cheryl Shepherd, who was left to seek help for her dying “daughter-in-law.” You could hear her pain and fear in the 911 call recording. She’s making his funeral plans and left to raise his child, who will be a constant memory of the tragedy that will tug at her heart the rest of her life.

After shooting his girlfriend, Belcher headed to the team’s practice facility to shoot himself in front of the general manager, head coach and his position coach. They are undergoing mandatory counseling for witnessing someone put a bullet through his own head. Think they will forget that moment anytime soon?

More significantly, little Zoey will grow up and one day will be old enough to ask about her parents. How do you craft an answer that does not scar her for life?

This is the carnage Belcher left behind. For that, he hardly should earn anyone’s sympathy – or a place in the Chiefs’ locker room.

“I don’t know if it’s a shrine, or whatever you want to put it. It’s a tribute,” offensive tackle Eric Winston said. “He was a player on this team. We’re all struggling to reconcile the conflicting emotions we have.”

No doubt, for the players, it is a difficult balance, but how did he earn a tribute? He killed a young woman.

His teammates got dressed in suits and attended a memorial service for Belcher on Wednesday. They are hurt and confused, shocked. How could someone they thought they knew flip as he apparently did. Maybe it was brain injury that turned him, although any other known case of NFL players with such malfunctions have only hurt themselves. Maybe it was one false moment that he wished he had back the instant it occurred, although the multiple gun shots could suggest something different.

Lots of maybes. . .

Whatever the case, Belcher’s locker should be cleaned out and discarded like so much trash. He does not deserve the attention it brings or the sympathy it elicits.

No one will know what drove a seemingly fine young man to such an awful tailspin. But he is not the victim here; he created the victims, and there are many.

And for that, Belcher should be cast aside, at least figuratively. His mother has already said she will always love her son; that’s a mom for you. His friends certainly will have similar feelings.

To onlookers, it is a bit frustrating and disheartening to see so much attention paid to a murderer. The attention and focus should go to the real victims in this horrible case – and to someone worthy, someone who can use the prayers and use the support.

His daughter.

What people are saying

50 thoughts on “Javon Belcher Is Not The Victim; He’s A Murderer

  1. Jb Williams says:

    Curtis… THANKS for making this what it really is. I get it! I PRAY for this whole tragedy!

  2. Ede Warner says:

    Couldn't disagree more! Each and everyone of us bear some responsiblity in the fate of Mr. Belcher and his family, and they all should be treated like victims. The idea of selective personal responsibility for people when they do wrong, but ignoring all the reasons that our soceity encourages this behavior is so, so short-sided. Balance perspectives are key. I try with all my heart to think about how Dr. King handled the people that treated blacks wrong and how he balanced protest with his goal of a beloved community that included the whites that oppressed him. Today's media finds ways to criticize everyone and everything, and guess what? Nothing is getting better…An alternative perspective…

  3. Curtis Bunn says:

    @JB, thanks!! @Ede, I could not disagree with you more. When troubled times come, it is up to YOU to react to it in a responsible way. And if not responsible, then certainly not KILLING someone. I respect your perspective, but sometimes things are black and white, no gray area. He killed the mother of his child. No excuse for that. People have much larger problems than he had and do not resort to murder.

  4. Ede Warner says:

    Did you read Kevin Powell's discussion of depression (manhood, football, and suicide)? Have you dealt with clinical depression? When people act out in irrational ways, especially if they have seemed rational, there is usually a reason. Given the level of oppression heaped historically and currently on black folks, it is unbelievable that WE resort to discussions of personal respnsiblity unwilling to acknowledge the societal forces at work. Sometimes I think because we overcome such insurmountable odds, and as a result of integration that has adopted these backwards white philosophies of individuality and personal responsibility at all costs, we have as a people lost our critical thinking way. You are right though, its not grey. We live in a racist, sexist, and violent society that contributes to depression and the escalation of irrational gender violence that results from it

  5. KC Punkin says:

    I agree he is a murder, but that doesn't mean he should be shunned. NONE of us will ever know what really happened or why. Javon took that with him to the grave. As horrible a tragedy as this is, ONLY God can judge Javon not man. I pray God gives his mother the strength and wisdom and courage to raise Zoey with nothing but love. I pray that as she gets old God covers her from the mean and heartlesness of mankind. The Chief players have the right to mourn their friend and teammate. That does not mean they mourn the murder. Many prayers and blessings to all those affected by this ugly tragedy!

  6. Eddie Jewell says:

    How do you turn off the respect and love you have for a teammate? It could be more of shock and awe for them to believe that he was did this horrible thing. I don't think you can turn that off. Understand that in many locker rooms there are many men going through similar instances of stress. In the same respect many of them are not killing their girlfriends, but the kids of today are totally different than we were. I have to remind myself that daily. I am so amazed of how so many people take themselves and others out when this wasn't the norm in the past. I understand the tribute. I understand that this was his doing. After this season, people in Kansas City will not even think of Jovan Belcher. Just my 2 cents.

  7. It's strange the way certain people are remembered…it wasn't too long ago that Kurt Cobain swallowed the business end of a shotgun, and folks still remember him as a tragic hero…Personally, I think Kurt failed because he didn't Courtney Love out too…what Belcher did was tragic on so many levels, yet to his teammates, he was a brother in arms…yes, he took the life of someone who didn't deserve it…yes, he left behind an orphaned daughter…yes, he's created a wake of devastation and misery that won't be too easily forgotten, but he's also a victim of his own actions and demons…I feel for the entire family and team going through this…it reminds me of the Chris Benoit tragedy years ago…

  8. Eddie Jewell says:

    Great point Steven.

  9. Derrick Thomas was driving like a complete asshole in the snow and caused his own death. Nothing close to what Belcher did but he certainly caused his own death as well. If you murdered your wife I'm sure your family would still mourn your death. Have some respect and common sense.

  10. Michele Robinson says:


  11. Michele Robinson says:

    When will we as Blacks ever stop blaming others for our own self ills and hatred. Belcher killed his child's mother not me nor you. Lots of Black people grow up with issues just as whites, latinos, Iranians and all others, but do they shoot the mother of their first born child NINE TIMES, I don't think so. He is a MURDERER, PERIOD! and should be remembered as such. Who will explain to this baby in about 5 years where's her parents, who will tell her the HURTFUL story that her father killed her mother shooting her NINE times in front of his mother. Who will make suret he mother of this child receives the counseling she will so desperatley need. STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR A MURDERER. CALL A SPADE A SPADE. WHAT IF THE SHOE WAS ON THE OTHER FOOT?

  12. Ede Warner says:

    I am glad that it was Dr. King, not you, that decided to not BLAME Rosa Parks for sitting in the front of the bus. That's your logic. The "murderer" paid the price of taking his life, perhaps his strange way of taking responsibility for what he did or perhaps avoiding it. Either way, it was a high cost.

    My goal, much like the our court system is to find all responsible parties to the event so that they can be addressed so this doesn't happen again. You like condemning one person to escape any personal stake or risk.

    I like examining all of the factors that produce a situation so that full responsibility can be taken and the problem can be solved. That's what effective problem solving does.

    Calling him a murderer and getting angry with him won't stop the destruction of the next murder-suicide. Trying to understand the reasons for the murder-suicide in a logical way might prevent the next one if we do it right.

  13. Jeanessa Fenderson says:

    Thanks for this, Curtis. It is disturbing to read some of the stories that almost paint him in a heroic light. "He kissed her and apologized"…after shooting her 9 times. "He kissed his mother and daughter and said goodbye"…after taking away her mother and going against everything his mother taught him. "He thanked the KC staff for their support"…while summarily ignoring the help they offered and their pleas and potentially damaging their psyches by causing them to witness a horrific suicide. I'm sorry. I feel bad for the loss his family is facing but he's not different than WWE wrestler Chris Benoit or any other controlling, sociopathic murderer who was too cowardly to face living with the consequences of his actions.

  14. Ede Warner says:

    If those "stories" are the truth, why should they not be told? Most of us are not decidedly good or evil, but have elements of both. Sadly, a majority of the people I come into contact with are controlling, and if you include how they engage violent video games like Halo, or sexist hip hop, or even some controllers that believe they make you better to justify their controlling behavior, all of it could be seen as dysfunction, perhaps even sociopathetic. The point: this is bigger than a person and it does absolutely no good to keep condemning the few, because that is becoming the many. We must start addressing, with compassion, the broader reasons this is occurring.

    I'm sad that he was violent and controlling. I'm sad because given media reports it sounds like many people that chose to love him knew that and still chose to love him. I'm sad that we as a society are unwilling to examine the reasons integration without wealth redistribution created a pimp mythology narrative that pits black women and men against each other, without looking at why no trust and little understanding of what has been done to us exists in the black community. I'm sad that video games and hip hop a culture of gender violence and I'm sad that racism produces black depression.

    I'm sad all of these things destroyed that family.

  15. Curtis Bunn says:

    Ede Warner, I appreciate and respect your position. But we all live in the same world, and MOST of us do not kill our loved one. I concur with Michele, it reeks of being an apologist for a murderer. Bottom line, there is NO EXCUSE for his actions!!!

  16. Curtis Bunn says:

    Eddie, I understand your question. Makes sense. But when the crime is so awful, how can you stand by him? You think those who worked with Jerry Sandusky, after learning the details of his insane behavior, consider him their "friend"? No. The crime is too egregious to dismiss. It supersedes any bond that was developed on the football field.

  17. Curtis Bunn says:

    Jeanessa, thank you for reading my column and for your thoughtful words. I agree with you wholeheartedly. @Ede, sometimes things are just black and white, and no matter of explaining it away via "it's bigger than the person." Sometimes it's just someone doing something awful on his own accord.

  18. Curtis Bunn says:

    KC, thanks for reading the column and responding. I appreciate your position. And my point was not really about judging Belcher. I believe, like you, that God will have the final say on that. And, of course, the Chiefs will mourn; no one said they should not or would not. But he is not the victim. He's the culprit who created victims.

  19. Curtis Bunn says:

    Matt, not sure what you mean. Common sense about what? And I surely don't think Derrick Thomas' car accident is the same as shooting yourself in the head. So. . . And no one said anything about NOT mourning.

  20. You must be reading my mind. I have no sympathy for Javon Belcher at all, but my heart bleeds buckets for Kassandra Perkins and her poor motherless child. He had more than enough time to think about what his actions would cause but instead he thought only of himself. If he loved his child as much as he claimed then he would never had inflicted this magnitude of pain on her. He was just thinking about himself and no one else. If he was too weak to deal with his own problems then by all means handle you, if that was the only way he seen fit, but Kassandra did not come into this world with him and he had no right to take her out. He didn't give a damn about no one else but himself because he then went to the training camp and again continued to inflict more pain on others who witnessed the unthinkbale, and who now must deal with it mentally, and emotionally. And what about his poor mother she will never ever forget what she heard and then seen. Why! Suicide is never the answer but murder……….IS UNFORGIVEABLE! Rest in PeaceKassandra.

  21. Tell Them Ms. Robinson!!!!!

  22. Eddie Jewell says:

    Curtis I can't see the comparison with Sandusky. I understand your point and agree, but until we can get the pulse of the locker room those guys lost a team mate. We are still painting this young lady as blameless in this whole thing. Hold up before I get crucified, but I believe she played a part in the STRESS. ijs.

  23. The difference is Kurt didn't take an innocent person with him.

  24. This article disgusts me!!!! No stories will have to be made for this little girl because the media has done a fine job of that!!!! Making stye they tell the world of her mothers bullet riddled body and the release of the 911 call!!! Everyone involved is a victim!!! Who are any of us to judge!!!!!!!!!

  25. well the hanging of his jersey is an act of mourning. They are not glorifying him they are simply honoring a member of their family, which in spite of his actions he still deserves to be honored. And I agreed that Derrick Thomas's actions were not the same as Belcher's but injured those in his car and put many others in harms way. I think its wrong too judge the Chiefs for honoring their brother. He is a member of their family.

  26. Ede Warner says:

    Curtis, what I am looking for is balance. Sure, people have to take responsiblity for their actions, but my spirituality teaches me 1) not to judge; 2) that I have the power to forgive; and 3) short of death, anyone can find a redemption process that starts with personal accountability.

    Jesus forgive murderers. Dr. King forgave those holding on to segregation and the people, both black and white, contributing to black subjegation. That rhetorical strategy seemed 1) effective and 2) productive.

    When someone takes their own life, it is the ultimate price for their sins, isn't it? Why pile on? What is the point? How does that prevent the next act of domestic violence? Shouldn't the only goal be to find ways to prevent the next one?

    I will concede this: I watched the Panthers wide receiver that killed his girlfriend receive forgiveness from her grandmother, and perhaps the people that are best positioned to decide if my words (and yours) are respectful would be the family of Ms. Perkins. B

  27. Ede Warner says:

    There was once a movie called American President. The conservative opponent kept attacking the moral values of the President for dating after his wife died. It was a political strategy grounded in fear. In the final scene, the President said "complex problems require complex solutions" suggesting that his opponent was not capable of handling complex problems because he focused on simple personal attacks.

    I would never disrespect your abilities, your writing suggests you are capable of seeing the complexities involved in balancing responsibility, but I will say that your repeated call for "black or white" sounds eerily familiar as an effort to not address the broader issues at work.

    You are a graduate of an HBCU, writing for an Atlanta-based paper. How can the teachings of Dr. King regarding 1) collective action and the role of race; and 2) the need for a beloved community as a proven and effective activist strategy for social change, mean so little in this moment?

  28. Jeanessa Fenderson says:

    Ede, when a man kills a woman in cold blood, it is black and white. Her life is gone. She does not have the chance to speak, to love, to choose, to breathe again. He has robbed her of the gift of living. He has robbed her of her right to dream, to reflect, to participate, to analyze…and he has done so because he can no longer control her behavior or actions. It does not matter if he has done so because of the history of race relations in the United States. It does not matter if he has done so because of poverty, lack of education, social dystopia. It does not matter if he has done so because the sky is blue and not purple. It is wrong. It's is monstrous and it is irrevocable.

  29. Ede Warner says:

    Jeanessa, I don't disagree that tragedies are terrible. I in no way, want to minimize the pain that is created when a life is taken. My question is: how do we stop these acts from ocurring? We've been holding individuals responsible in public and in the courts. That hasn't worked because the numbers are growing.

    When I make comparisons to the end of segregation, people were being killed, black women raped, and black men like Emmitt Till lynched. All of those were black and white. Black people getting angry about that did nothing to make it end. However, Dr. King used a rhetorical strategy of love, compassion infused with protest. It was successful, things changed.

    We as black folks today, can learn from our ancestors how to deal and create change today. The focus on condemantion and punishment as words by black folks is a product of integration, and not who we are. Our history is about fixing problems, not venting in anger about them.

    But perhaps I'm wrong and you are right. Perhaps anger can create change and stop the violence against women. We will see because that seems to be the strategy of most…

  30. Jae Cee says:

    Finally! Thank you Curtis!

  31. Ede Warner says:

    I'm comparing sound and effective decision making processes across different contexts. Ending domestic violence, internalized depression of people that results in violence, or ending segregation are all problems requiring solutions. I am a professor, a scientist who tries to study problems and effective solutions to those problems. If you look into your world, anger and quality decision making probably hasn't produced good outcomes, it certainly hasn't for me.

    Rigteous anger wasn't Dr. King's approach, but it was Malcolm's. Who got further? As much as I love Malcolm, he wasn't going to persuade larger numbers of people until after Mecca because for the first time, he let go of that anger.

    King preached love, compassion, and forgivenessness even for those that wronged him in ways I can't imagine. And he won, over and over again. I want to see all of us win, and righteous anger won't achieve that outcome based on what I've seen and what I've experiences.

    But good luck in mobilizing more people to act out of anger, because I'm humble enough to concede I might be wrong. Perhaps harsh criticism and punishment can create postivie change. I am a human and as such I am flawed and can always be wrong. Take care.

  32. Jeanessa Fenderson says:

    I am a Multi-degreed Librarian, well-educated and knowledgeable as well. I am not saying there is not a place for compassion, forgiveness and love. I live my life that way everyday and in many different circumstances where those values have been severely tested. In this instance, we disagree on the effectiveness/impact of articles like the one writing by Curtis.

  33. Ede Warner says:

    Not exclusive…DuBosi' notion of dualism says he can be both perpetrator and a victim. And "we" should be able to see that.

  34. Jovan Belcher story is not unique or nor is it (God forbidding) going to be the last tragedy that is played out on the front pages of America! I don't feel comfortable having his life celebrated as a martyr, but neither do I feel comfortable having people who have no vested interest other than seeing their name in print demonize someone they don't really know! The actions were horrible and unforgivable in our sight, but passing judgement belongs to a higher power who does an excellent job if we let him! Support and prayers is all the families really need from us so lets support and keep fire-starting comments and personal opinions to ourselves so the family has the adequate time and space to grieve!

  35. Robert Jones says:

    Good job this guy sounds like another jerk who sees women as something to use and abuse. They should remove that jersey it looks like a tribute to a girlfriend beating murderer. They are sending the wrong message to men. I am sure he was a troubled man but that is no excuse for his actions. If he had not shot himself then he should have been tried convicted then executed. Who would have hung his jersey up then.

  36. You are so right!!! To me they are glorifing this murderer. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  37. Karen Kaci says:

    Javon Belcher is dead and so is the mother of his child…They left this world the way they lived…I'm not going to condemn the man in his death..I wasn't there or do I know Kasandra..From what I'd read through some other sources, her life wasn't all that innocent..she went to gun shooting ranges with him also guns was all around the home…Kasandra was shacking with this Pro Athlete and she got pregnant…Why wasn't they married first? Why wasn't she able to live in her own place? why wasn't she capable of financially supporting her own means of living? There's a whole lot of questioning on her part too. She was also threatening to take Zoey away and sue him for child support, for the money he worked hard at his own craft to reach the NFL, He build this life by himself…My heart goes out for that baby…Probably better off without the both of these two reckless people…So when you tell the story tell the whole story it takes two..Javon might of pulled the trigger, but Kasandra could of also triggered him off to that breaking point, and warnings was given, before it ended in death.

  38. Anonymous says:

    If you cared so much about the families you would not be writing this, although everyone has a opinion.You still need to be mindful of the families, his mother is going through enough, let them mourn in peace.This will be a long and hard hurtful road for his mom to travel, but through prayer hopefully she will find some peace.You should be saying , lift these families in prayer, and may God have mercy. Not judging, you are not God , he is judge in the jury.Its so easy for people to judge or talk about someone that's not related to them.If this was your family member would you say these things and be so public? No you would say please pray for my family, that's what you need to be saying for them. Please pray for the families no one knows their pain or sorrow. So once again please be mindful of the families, keep them in prayer and Lord build a shield around baby girl Zoey..

  39. Karen Kaci says:

    I had a family member that committed the Same act…Killed his girlfriend, also his friend and in a police chase he killed himself…I know what you are saying, but this happens to us NOBODIES as well…If Javon and Kasandra families loved them while they was living and doing good for them, the families will also find it in their hearts to love them even when their gone…Can't be hypocritical, all our hearts are on trial…Of course it's going to take time for the healing of this family of what they have gone through, and Javon "Team Family".,.Talking about it is a step through healing… Remember it's not where we start in life it's where it's going to end…I wish the families well and the "Cheifs" and of course Baby Zoey a good and productive life as she journey through life…Just because, her mom and dad had left her suddenly, does not mean she will have to mourn their deaths forever, There is a light at that end of the tunnel…It could of turned out for the better for this baby…

  40. Karen Kaci says:

    @ Chris: I found your article very interesting, even if we don't agree on the same ideology of how we see our victims…What's most important is how we see ourselves…Continue to be inspired..

  41. Karen Kaci says:

    Correction: @ Curtis I found your article very interesting, even if we don't agree on the same ideology of how we see the victims…What's most important is how we see ourselves..Continue to be inspired..

  42. MsRed Red Wine-Wilson says:

    Know what I find interesting, if it was a bum with no money and his momma how would the DJ's scratch the turntable?

    Very different.
    You can't make a wrong a right. If they scarred O.J then he too should be scarred.
    I'm a believer in justice. Not popularity.

  43. MsRed Red Wine-Wilson says:

    Didn't another football player just kill himself and his friend frinking.? They really need to do something about that. Dock them or something.

  44. MsRed Red Wine-Wilson says:

    I wonder if KasandraMs family is ok? This has to be beyond over welming for them. Unless its me it seems like they are left with nothing. I think they should at least raise the baby. A life for a life. I just feel so upset, sad, a lot of feeling. Just seems unjust.

  45. Karen Kaci says:

    I don't think they are glorifying him…What I do believe they are mourning…Everyone grieve differently…When this family member of mines, killed his girlfriend, all I did was call my great aunt who was his grandmother, and offer my prayers and words of comfort…I didn't go to the funeral or did I make any contribution of flowers and money…Call me evil whatever…I can careless, because when I'm gone from this world it's the end…Now the judgment to where I will spend eternity is up to God…We have no heaven or hell for anyone…

  46. True…Javon Belcher did commit murder…but he also was.a son, father n friend….no one knows wht went on in his mind that led him down a dark.path…out of respect I think he deserves to be remembered as a son, father, brother n friend…I jus hope he made peace with God….my prayers go out to the families especially a child who will grow up without ever meeting her.parents…we don't know what Javon was going through…all we kno is that he committed a terrible crime….that left a lot of unanswered questions….RIP Javon Belcher and Kassandra Perkins….may u both find peace in a mansion on high….

  47. Karen Kaci says:

    Very well taken…This has left a great impact on me, and I know neither of these two young people…

  48. So refreshing to see there are still some people with common sense. AMEN!!

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