(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Carolina Panthers 27 to 21 on Sunday, one day after police say Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide.
There was a moment of silence before the game at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium for the victims of domestic violence and their families. The Chiefs hung a jersey of Belcher’s in his locker, but the team did not publicly memorialize him at the game.
Police say Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, in front of his mother on Saturday and then drove to the Chiefs’ training facility, where he shot himself in the head in front of several team officials, including head coach Romeo Crennel.
As for the decision to play the game, Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt says Crennel called the team captains on Saturday and learned that many of the players had expressed a desire to play. Hunt said Crennel had agreed that going forward was the right thing to do.
Speaking about his decision to play the game, Crennel told reporters on Sunday, “I thought that was the best thing we could do. If for no other reason it takes our minds off our misery for a few hours.”
The coach said the team felt relief after the game, explaining, “There was elation. I think that they were appreciative of the fact that they were able to get through the game, and deal with the circumstance.”
Still, Crennel acknowledged that there are still some tough days ahead.
“It might not be over for some time for a lot of the guys,” he said.
Belcher’s mother says the couple’s 3-month-old daughter will be raised with her on Long Island, N.Y. The Kansas City Chiefs have announced they will start a foundation for the little girl.
Belcher’s death is the latest in a string of NFL player suicides. Earlier this year, Ray Easterling, who once played for the Atlanta Falcons, killed himself with a gun. Tennessee Titans wide receiver OJ Murdock also took his own life, as did former NFL star Junior Seau.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jill Martin, CNN
Sandee LaMotte, CNN
Doug Criss, CNN
Azadeh Ansari and Steve Almasy, CNN