Kasandra Perkins did not “lose her life.”
Kasandra Perkins arrived home around 1 a.m. Saturday morning from a Trey Songz concert. What followed was a fight between her and Kansas City Chiefs starting linebacker Jovan Belcher, her on-and-off boyfriend and the father of their three-month-old daughter. At around 7:50 a.m. that morning, Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins, shooting her nine times in front of his own daughter.
From the shooting, Belcher drove to the Chiefs practice facility, causing a commotion in the parking lot that led to general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel coming out and confronting Belcher as he stood there, holding a gun to his head. Belcher reportedly thanked them for taking a chance with him as an undrafted linebacker, then pulled the trigger as the police arrived on the scene, killing himself.
Because Belcher chose to end his life rather than face the consequences of his horrific action, for the most part Sunday’s telecasts of the NFL did not treat Belcher as the monster who shot the mother of his child nine times, but instead chose to remember the fallen linebacker. The treatment of the atrocity was a failure by the Chiefs’ organization in some ways and the media in more.
The Chiefs refused to allow players to wear decals on their helmets to remember Belcher and chose not to honor him before the game, but instead held a moment of silence for all victims of domestic violence. Having done the right thing on these fronts, they incredibly chose to leave Belcher’s jersey hanging in the locker room with his locker intact remembering, and some can argue, honoring him.
“I don’t know if it’s a shrine, or whatever you want to put it. It’s a tribute,” said Eric Winston, the Chiefs’ offensive tackle.
This image of his jersey hanging in the locker was shown during every game, reinforcing this tribute as commentators seemed to pay their respects to a fallen player. In terms of audacity, that was beaten by Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who posted a photo to Twitter after the game saying, “This one was for you,” pointing to the sky and wearing a shirt with a picture of Belcher sitting on clouds, implying that the murderer was now in heaven.
In the media, the failures were more subtle. CBS’s James Brown, host of “NFL Today,” showed the highlights of the (1-10) Chiefs beating the (3-8) Panthers, saying the tragedy “inspired the Chiefs early.” This was followed by interviews of his teammates, who were shown crying and talking about how Belcher was a brother and a friend.
“It is not easy for the Kansas City community at large, because a young lady Kasandra Perkins also lost her life,” Brown said.
This not only makes this event seem like a double murder with two victims, but also makes Perkins’ life appear as second value. Her life was not lost in some random tragedy, but was taken by the man that James Brown said, “inspired his team.”
There were those who took the correct stances and even those who went a step further like Bob Costas who, during “Sunday Night Football,” took the courageous step of bringing up Jason Whitlock’s article discussing gun control and our gun culture. While this may have seemed unnecessary to some, there is also no question about how to portray a person who shot his child’s mother nine times and orphaned his three-month-old daughter. That is, most certainly not through remembrance or respect for the murderer, but doing these things unilaterally for the victim, while bringing awareness to the tragedy’s cause.