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The Chiefs’ sad list of tragedies includes another murder-suicide

Kevin Kaduk
Shutdown Corner

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Former Chiefs lineman Jim Tyrer

Saturday's tragic news that Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend before killing himself summoned the painful memory of another murder-suicide involving a member of the Kansas City Chiefs organization.

On Sept. 15 1980, former Chiefs lineman Jim Tyrer murdered his wife Martha at home before taking his own life. The couple had four children and had been a part of the Chiefs community since the franchise moved from Dallas to Kansas City in 1963.

The news, of course, came as a big shock in the football world. The 41-year-old Tyrer had been a 10-time all-star and was a pivotal member of the Super Bowl IV title team. He had been inducted into the Chiefs' Hall of Fame in 1978 and was even a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame a few months after his death. (It was the last time his name would appear on the ballot).

Tyrer, however, had a tough time adjusting to his life after the NFL and had reportedly been experiencing financial difficulties when his job as a traveling salesman did not prove as lucrative as his professional athlete's paycheck. Though some have recently theorized that undiagnosed brain trauma from Tyrer's football days may have contributed to his mindset, there is no way to prove that more than 30 years later.

From the Pro Football Historical Abstract:

Tyrer spent the afternoon at the Chiefs' game with his 10-year-old son. After returning home, he waited until his family went to bed, then fatally shot his wife, Martha, before turning the gun on himself. Tyrer left behind four children, including 17-year-old son Bradley, who hid under his bed for an hour after he heard the gunshots, fearing that intruders had come into the house.

Washington Post reporter Ken Denlinger put the tragedy into perspective when he wrote: "There were so many contradictions, so much irony. The largest Chief was the weakest, the most outwardly secure the most inwardly bedeviled. The pride that made Tyrer a special football player might well have cost him his life."

The Tyrer and Belcher stories are not the only sad chapters that have affected the Chiefs franchise throughout the years. Running back Joe Delaney died while trying to save three children from drowning in the summer of 1983. Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas died in February of 2000 after being paralyzed in a car accident a few weeks earlier. All-AFL rookie of the year Mack Lee Hill died in 1965 after complications from knee surgery.

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