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Chiefs will continue processing tragedy

The SportsXchange

Media representatives came in from all over the country on Sunday and Monday to cover the Chiefs, including television networks like CNN, ESPN, TMZ and more. The coverage had little to do with football, of course, with the reporters instead covering the story of linebacker Jovan Belcher murdering his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, then killing himself a little while later, after driving to the Chiefs' team facility Saturday.

By Wednesday, few of the national media types remained. However, the story lives on for the Chiefs. From the locker room to the front office it will return on a daily basis and bring with it grief, despair, anger and frustration. Just as they did in their locker room at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs have left Belcher's locker in their practice facility untouched; it was organized like he would walk in at any moment.

"I see that over there and I expect him to show up and start getting ready for a workout," said linebacker Edgar Jones.

Fellow linebacker Brandon Siler looked at the locker and shook his head. "It's going to be a tough time," Siler said. "For us linebackers who were around him all the time, it's going to be tougher."

That's why the linebackers as a group sat down with one of the counselors that the Chiefs have brought into the building to help the players and coaches deal with their grief. They have also been relying on the strength of their head coach Romeo Crennel.

While the team has acknowledged Perkins, who was involved in team organizations was also considered a member of the family and was a murder victim, Crennel, who witnessed Belcher's suicide, said he could condemn his former player's action, but not him.

"Jovan is a member of the family and what he did, we didn't like," Crennel said. "We're not crazy about it, but he's still a member of our family. When you go out in society and things like this happen in society, you don't see people throwing the family members out the door. They are still loved by their family members, but the act, you don't like the act.

"You move on, you deal with it. You don't have a choice, you have to move on."

As they attempt to move on, the Chiefs are especially concerned about running back Jamaal Charles. Charles' wife, Whitney, and Perkins were first cousins, and it was Whitney who introduced Kasandra to Belcher.

Charles left the locker room quickly after the game on Sunday and he was not around during the open locker room period on Monday or Wednesday. But he did issue a statement Monday that read in part: "As my actual family and my Kansas City Chiefs family have been altered forever, we ask that you keep us and most importantly their child in prayer."

Crennel has had several conversations with Charles.

"He's taking it kind of hard," Crennel said. "I think the game (Carolina) was good for him, so he could take his mind off of it a little bit. It's a tough situation, but I think Jamaal will get through it and we will help him get through it."

Veteran defensive lineman Shaun Smith had a conversation with Charles.

"He's really broken up and Whitney is too, so he has to deal not only with his feelings, but hers," said Smith. "It's like all of us in here; we didn't lose just one person, we lost two friends. We just have to honor their memory and keep going forward."

That's what the Chiefs are trying to do -- go forward. The team traveled together to a nearby church Wednesday after practice to attend a memorial service for the victims. For some it may be the closure they seek, but for others there will be more tough times ahead.

"You lean on your teammates," Crennel said. "You help them and you help each other. You do that and then we all have families. They're probably the most important people in our lives, so you lean on family. You get counseled from them. You tell them problems and seek solutions.

"I think that combination is probably the best way to go."

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