The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Carolina Panthers in an NFL game as scheduled at 10 a.m. PST on Sunday, barely 24 hours after starting linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend at their home and minutes later took his life at Arrowhead Stadium.
“After discussions between the league office, Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains, the Chiefs advised the NFL that it will play tomorrow's game vs. the Carolina Panthers at its originally scheduled time,” read a statement on the Panthers' official website.
Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli talked briefly to Belcher at the team's practice facility, where about 20 players and coaches were already gathered for a morning meeting. When police began to arrive, Belcher walked away from Crennel and Pioli to an empty parking lot, where he shot himself.
Crennel and Pioli told police they never felt in danger. Belcher was "thanking them for everything they’d done for him since he’s been a Chief," said police spokesman Darin Snapp.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt released a statement on behalf of the team:
“The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today’s events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy. We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted.
“We will continue to fully cooperate with authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.”
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the NFL advised the Panthers to travel to Kansas City as planned. The team issued its own statement:
“The Carolina Panthers are very saddened by the tragic events that have transpired today and send their thoughts and prayers to the entire Kansas City Chiefs organization and to the family of the victim at this most difficult time.”