THE death of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say shot himself Saturday morning after killing his girlfriend, has come as a shock to those who had no knowledge of any personal issues with the hard-working player.
The 25-year-old Belcher, whose girlfriend recently gave birth to a daughter, was in his fourth season with the Chiefs and his third as a full-time starter after joining the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent from the University of Maine, where he won 2008 CAA Conference defensive player of the year honours.
The West Babylon, N.Y., native also found success in the NFL after contributing on special teams and as a reserve linebacker for most of his rookie year. He had 171 tackles combined in the 2009-10 season, which was second most on the team to linebacker Derrick Johnson.
Belcher was a restricted free agent this past off-season and signed the second-round tender with the $1.927 million base salary that came with it. He was due for a potential big payday this off-season as an undrafted free agent.
By all accounts, Belcher showed no signs of having any issues in the past or recently. He trained hard, practised hard, didn't miss a game and was a good teammate in the locker-room. He also was a regular participant in charity appearances, including a visit to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., this past spring to pay tribute to the troops and a stop at Oak Grove Elementary in Kansas City last fall as part of the NFL's "Play 60" initiative.
"I'll say one thing, Oak Grove Elementary has some real passion for the Chiefs," Belcher said at the time. "I was very impressed with them. They all did a tremendous job of showing not only their support of our team but for living a healthy lifestyle too. You can tell that they all take things like eating right and getting exercise seriously. It was really a fun time. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet them all today and congratulate them for their efforts."
-- USA Today