Chiefs playing with heavy hearts

Chiefs playing with heavy hearts
December 13, 2012, 8:30 am
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"We’ve just been trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to do, but I ain’t going to lie, it’s been tough.
—Chiefs safety Eric Berry


ALAMEDA -- The Kansas City Chiefs are coming into Oakland for the Raiders' home finale riding a wave of emotion.

It was on Dec. 1 when Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, who was also the mother of their infant child, before driving to the team's practice facility and turning the gun on himself. Belcher killed himself in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.

A day after the murder-suicide, the Chiefs played a home game and defeated Carolina, 27-21, for just their second victory of the season, before losing at Cleveland, 30-7, last weekend.

Crennel spoke with Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday and was asked how the team recovers from such an event.

"I think you just have to understand that reality is reality and you cannot undue what's been done and you have to try to move on as best you can," Crennel said. "I think in the business we're in, moving on is our hours on the football field, because we have to focus on football at that time and not focus on all those other problems that life presents. I think that has been good therapy for the team, for the coaches and even for the organization. That's what we've been trying to focus on, moving forward, because we have to."

Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry agreed.

"We’ve just been trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to do," he said, "but I ain’t going to lie, it’s been tough. Everybody’s trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to take care of, but at the end of the day we are human, and we’ve got emotions and feelings and stuff like that.

"Getting away from that situation, playing ball, just trying to stay busy for the most part (helps), but it’s always going to be in the back of your minds. It’s somebody you’re with every day…then he’s gone the next day. It’s something you’ve got to deal with but it’s nothing that won’t be forgotten."

Last weekend, Dallas endured a death when practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident in which the driver, Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent, was charged with intoxicated manslaughter as he was driving in the single-car accident.

It makes one wonder if two deadly incidents in as many weeks can serve as a teaching tool for the NFL or if the players will remain convinced of their invincibility.

"I think the biggest thing about players is they are young," Crennel said. "When you're young you think you're going to be able to last forever and you don't think about what may happen and things like that. So I think it's the youngness that gets these guys, gets young people in general to make some of the choices being made. After they mature and get more responsibilities then they look at things differently.

"I think it's the age and not so much how they look at life. They're young and they think life if going to be great for a long time and they don't understand how the choices they make impact their life."