Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Dec 2012

Who Was Jovan Belcher?

Nancy Gay tells the story of how Jovan Belcher went from Long Island high school star to Division I-AA standout at Maine, then entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent and worked his way into the starting lineup. Ryan Wilson has more about Belcher as well. As you have probably heard by now, Belcher killed himself and his girlfriend in a murder-suicide this morning. Everything that's been said about the tragedy has pretty much been said all over the Internet today. As of now, the NFL still plans to have the Chiefs and Panthers play tomorrow as scheduled. We'll let you know if that chanegs.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 01 Dec 2012

56 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2012, 9:27pm by commissionerleaf


by Scott P. (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 3:13pm

Actually, FO is my main source for football news other than ESPN (which had very little info this morning), so I don't think that everything that can be said has been said, and I would be interested in an FO take on the topic.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 3:21pm

Nothing much has been said yet, Aaron. So do agre with that.

Was guy on drugs? Steroids? Could hqve been some roid rage going on. Crakc? Something else? Chemicals maybe sent him over edge.

Obvioualy something wrong with him mentally.

by asdasdadsadasd (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 4:50pm

From previous posts I thought you had some football insight, but based on this post, I don't think I can ever take anything serious from you again.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 5:38pm

Wondering if a football player was using steroids is a bad thought?

by Bem (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 5:51pm

Steroids is not an outlandish conclusion to jump to. The last major sports tragedy that comes to mind that compares to this would be the Chris Benoit tragedy. And in that case, it was determined that steroids combined with head trauma was the cause.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 6:42pm

Yeah, I wouldn't mind betting there was a similar combination of concussions / head trauma, steroids, and probably alcohol and pain pills going on here. A person with all their faculties just doesn't do this. Which doesn't excuse it obviously.

by Theo :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 7:01pm

"Steroids is not an outlandish conclusion to jump to."
It is if you have no information on the subject.
Wait for an autopsy and let the conclusion be done by the authorities.

by Insancipitory :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 8:03pm

Inductive reasoning is generally more impressive than deductive reasoning. This is an opportunity for people to practice. People, being opportunistic, do practice. The outcome is unaffected by the exercise or our feelings on its propriety.

Strictly speaking, we have information on the subject, not particularly good information, and everyone has the same access to that information; all of which is what makes it an attractive topic for those so moved to discuss it.

However, I take away something different. To me his life and death are a lesson to be attentive to other people I brush up against in life. The finality of regret is burden enough without the additional impact of his actions. To have thought to talk with him, not done so, to then learn of his passing and its manner would be a very difficult thing. So, how can I know I am not making this mistake right now?

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 11:48pm

Nobody here jumped to conclusion, Theo.

Only responded to Aaron comment that everything was said already.

Guy could have been on drugs of some sort. Could've had hair trogger temper. Maybe mad that girlfriend was out to 1am aftergoing to concert . Maybe he find out this morning that girlfriend with another dude last night.

Couldhve been comibnation of all that. But have not reached conclusion. Am not police officer and don't live near KC. Actual facts to come out soon enough.

Sorry for wondering if steroids could possibly have played role.

by frievalt :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 12:12am

Raiderjoe is completely in the right here. It's more probable than not that a chemically altered consciousness had a causal effect on the initial killing.

To attack his QUESTION (not assertion, mind you) is utterly ridiculous.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 9:56am

It's possible, anyway. But I agree to attack raiderjoe because of his first post is absurd. There's got to be some story behind the guy who attacked him.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:48pm

He's so completely right it stuns me anybody could actually be offended by him asking the question. Granted, there are all kinds of demons people face, but he was clearly in some sort of rage--he shot his girlfriend NINE times in front of his mother while his baby was inside the house. Not exactly, "we got in a shoving match and she fell down the stairs."

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 9:49pm

He's referring to Chris Benoit. Don't know who he is, just thought I'd mention it.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 4:01pm

Given the NFL drug testing policy, I'd guess that alcohol is a more likely suspect than other drugs. There are plenty of drunken arguments that end up in homicides. All you need is a handgun within reach.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 7:45am

You don't even need that: see here, for example.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:28pm

Sadly, I don't think of the NFLs drug policy as much of a deterrant. Hell, even after all the fanfare, the Union is STILL keeping the league from testing players for HGH 2 years after aggreeing to testing.

by Anger...rising (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 9:16pm

No such thing was ever determined. You pulled that completely out of your ass.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:51pm

So, what's your better-reasoned theory for shooting the mother of your child NINE times in front of your own mother? That's total rage of some sort. It's a reasonable question to ask and it's rather strange you find the asking of it to be so offensive.

by Candace Bergen (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 7:04pm


by BigCheese :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 5:42pm

Riiiight... because posting a few questions about possible causes of the man's obviously disturbed mental state is a completely valid reason to discount someone's football insights.

This post is a joke on every conceivable way.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by BigCheese :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 10:22pm

Except actually being funny, of course.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by BigCheese :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 10:22pm

Double-Post Removed

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by bubqr :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 9:00am

Steroids rage is VERY overhyped.

by dballman (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 4:49am

Steroid rage is over hyped? I was winning bodybuilding championships/powerlifting meets etc... here was my laudry list of juice!

200mgs nandrolone deconate injected ev 10days
200mgs testosteron enanthate " della" ev 10days
6 to 8 dianabol tabs per day ( 10mg tabs)
winstrol ( stanazolol) 1cc 50mg ev other day water base

16wks cycle i went from bodyweight of 186 to 242
starting benchpress 225 after cycle started up to 410lbs

then i started a 2nd cycle of

i had a clean criminal record before juice.... no relationship or job problems.
after months of roid use i had pulled people out of cars and beat them til unconscious and then went for additonal rest of people in car
i flipped over tables in pizza joints for men staring at my gf and beat them
i beat people at a laundromat and threw a man thru plate glass window
family called police because i ate 35 pieces of french toast and gallon of milk and kept eating. when told to stop eating by family i pushed couch to balcony and lifted and tossed furniture into front yard. i fought with 15 cops who beat me with sticks put 42 staples in my head and i woke up from surgery with nasal fracture and pins in hand from metacarpal fracture. i was ordered to a psych ward when i attacked a taco bell guest whom insulted my gf. i had just thrown my food away and choked the guest forcing him to eat my leftover food out of the garbage can. i would drive down a road and if someone pissed me off i would ram my car into others cars screaming at them to get out and fight me. i walked in a tanning bed and pulled customer out of the tan bed as he fell asleep and i was tired of waiting etc.. i forced em in his underwear to wait til i finished tanning before i returned his clothing. i was so violent and so outta control thanks to " raw tren" and roid abuse that i would drive down the road thinking i cannot be killed and cant be beat by any human being. i would go in bars and beg the biggest guy to fight me and if they wouldnt i would grab their girlfriends in wrong places til the did..

SO YA DONT THINK ROIDS ALTER PERSONALITIES? this is just the tip of the iceburg buddy. i shoulda been shot dead or died by now or been doing prison time! i have been lucky and thank god everyday as it took a long time to get straightened out from roids. roids are not overhyped buddy....

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 10:31am

This is an awesome post. Thanks for sharing. I confess the thought did cross my mind if all this could possibly be real or the work of a talented Tanier admirer, though.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:45pm

I'm glad you are no longer assaulting people, but it is a shame you weren't given
a 40 year, no parole, sentence after you commmitted your first two or three assaults. A lot of innocent people would have avoided being harmed by you, if the right thing had been done, by putting you in a cage until you were about 70 years old.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 9:51pm

Actually a lot of innocent people wouldn't have been harmed if he'd been put in a cage until he dropped the roids. The "until you were 70" seems totally over the top to me. Even though yes, I know that's how the justice system works.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 10:20pm

Yeah, I have a tic that makes me absolutely, completely, and wholly intolerant of anyone who engages in repeated criminally violent behavior, and short of being declared legally insane, and therefore not subject to criminal punishment, I'm not really interested in hearing about mitigating factors. While I oppose the death penalty, I really think we do not penalize criminally violent behavior harshly enough. Contrary to your implication, there are many states where a conviction for aggravated assault often results in a period of incarceration of 5 years or less.

by bubqr :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:35am

No, based on what I've read, roids rage is not something I believe in, despite your experience. Roids does seem to potentially enhance mood changes, like anger, but it doesn't turn a normal and sane person into Bruce Banner. This is something I clearly not believe in, and I've seen no study to back it up, sorry.

To me, it's very similar to the video games controversy: Let a normal person play violent video games 10 hours per day, he won't turn violent or anything. Now, someone who already exhibit some personality disorders, those games MIGHT "trigger" something. But the root cause ? Not the video games, not the steroids.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 1:53pm

By your own account, steroids could help trigger something in an already violent person. Now, to play a sport as violent as football you need to have a lot violence inside you, even if that violence only expresses itself on the football field.

If this were golf, on the other hand, I'd say your argument would indeed have a lot of merit. But there's no way you'll ever convince me that, say, Ghandi would've loved to play football if he'd only tried it.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Sifter :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 3:28pm

Not sure what needs to be said - it's a tragedy. You can't get an outsiders view on that because everyone agrees. Take a few moments to reflect on what happened, and what can be learned from this, then lets move on - with our best wishes and prayers going out to his family and those teammates of his at the Chiefs.

by holditnowhitit (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 3:57pm

let's not forget at the end of the day the one thing Belcher is more than anything else: a murderer who just left a baby without her parents.

by TMayor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 4:16pm

The game should be moved to the end of the year, some day during the week, if anything. It would horrendous if Crennel had to coach the team the day after he watched a player kill himself. Pioli and Crennel have to be devastated (family, friends, teammates as well obviously) having watched it after trying to talk him down.

ESPN has an interview with the police now.

by Theo :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 4:37pm

It's a tragedy. Let the police draw conclusions.
All I have to say is that I'm amazed that people can do this - take your girlfriend's life in front of your mother in the process and potentially ruin your daughter's young life.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 4:37pm

It's a mistake to try to identify a rational explanation for a supremely irrational act, which doesn't mean that we, as human beings, nearly always try to do just that.

There are no doubt some parents, grandparents, siblings, and others, who are suffering immensely right now, and a child who is now an orphan. I think I'll endeavor to think of them right now, and the innocent victim.

by Andrew Potter :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 5:57pm

I have never been able to fathom how any man can knowingly and willingly harm the mother of his child. How much worse to know that there are men who, in doing so, would leave their child without any mother at all. As a father myself, I'm devastated to read of the poor child who this morning lost both of her parents in an horrific, wasteful, and tragic sequence of events, and of the mother who lost a son and a daughter-in-law.

by Nathan :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 7:10pm

Murder-suicide, especially one involving one's own family, is probably the single most despicable act a human can commit. Just disgustingly weak, wrathful and selfish.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 11:01pm

I can't agree. Clearly this was an appalling act, but to my mind considerably more pitiable and less contemptible than cold-blooded murder for personal gain.

by PatsFan :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 9:15pm

Statement from the Chiefs, via NFL.com:

"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."

by wr (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 10:08pm

According to Mike Freeman at CBS Sports, the NFLPA was
also in involved, and on board with the decision.

by Basilicus :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 11:14pm

Insofar as trying to come up with explanations - fans are blaming head trauma, drugs, anything and everything under the sun with or without information...this is just another way of coping.

The people who get upset or offended at others making these assumptions...they're coping, too.

Both sides are trying to provide rational responses to the irrational. Football's just about the first thing I remember ever watching on TV. It's been a part of my life forever. Football is supposed to be an escape from real life and tragedy. Some will grasp at reasons. Others will say it's not in our purview to do so. We're all right; we're all wrong.

This sucks. There's nothing much more to it than that, and we may never have a chance to discover more about the reasons this happened. We love this sport. So let's cope by watching it tomorrow and holding our families close and being especially dear to the people in our lives who support and love us.

by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 12:04am

Crushingly sad for all involved. Sad for a man driven that far, sad for the needless loss of life, and sad for those left (family, friends, teammates).

by Paul R :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 12:08am

Man, tomorrow's game will be weird.
My guess is that playing tomorrow, rather than postponing, is what would be best for the teams. Players want to play, football is what they love and what they do. Having the game tomorrow would be a comfort.
Very strange, though, for the fans in the stands and the people running the stadium and the broadcast. What to you do? Have a moment of silence? Act like nothing happened? Donate something to charity? I'm glad I'm not the guy who has to decide.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 2:29am

Well, there's an orphan to raise. If people at the game have an opportunity to contribute to a fund, the purpose being to provide for this child, that would be a good thing to do.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 2:38am

I think it would be better to contribute to a fund for the children who are orphaned by violence generally, since this one seems to have other relatives and likely a sizable inheritance. Not that giving to this child is bad, but so much effort always goes to helping people in high profile difficulties, and so little to those with lower profile ones.

Just as how the red cross always has trouble raising money for things which don't make a big news splash even if just as many people are impacted.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 2:40am

You just have a moment of silence and set up a way for people to donate money to children who are orphaned by violence, tasteful, simple and over in 5 minutes.

by Steve in WI :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 7:23pm

I think it's way too early to say for sure that football had anything to do with this, except for the obvious fact that he was an NFL player and he chose to kill himself at his team's facility.

All I can really say is that it's a horrible situation. I found out about this yesterday morning in the middle of what I can honestly say has been the worst weekend of my life, and it put me in my place. I didn't think much could put my problems in perspective right now, but something like this does.

It's hard - no, impossible - for me to understand what was going through his head.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:48pm

It's kind of amazing that after a guy shoots his wife, and then goes to work so he can shoot himself in front of some other people he knows, the majority of the posts and comments and news coverage treats him like the victim.

Decent human beings don't shoot their significant others.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 3:09pm

It's a tragedy all the way around. Two lives wasted. You can grieve for him as well as the innocent girlfriend. But you're right that he was the one solely at fault.

And I agree it is strange to read the comments from the people who found it offensive to even question if drugs could have played a part. It's like we're so PC you can't even question a murderer's motives for fear of besmirching his memory.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:22pm

And yet 35% of all women who are murdered are killed by their husbands/boyfriends/exes. It used to be an even higher percentage until we decided to take spousal abuse seriously.

That's why it's premature to talk about stuff like steroids. Lots of women are murdered by their supposed partners and most of them aren't athletes. The fact is that men are more prone to violence, they're more likely to carry weapons, and they're more likely to hurt women and children. You may not like to face those facts, but that won't make them go away.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:08am


It is very possiivlw it just simple case of insane level of rage.

Belcher was starter but notigb special. Maybe got worried about future. Team stink real bad. Maybe new regime in 2013. Maybe Belcher wondered if he would be back. Had Bentley. Had head injury. Drank every day. Maybe was jealous of more well paid teammates Berry and Hali and Johnson. Then mad that baby momma out on town after midnight.

Add iitit all up and maybe completely lost wits for one horrible half hour of time.

No pharmaceuticals of any kind played role is quite posssible

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:28am

Or maybe baby mama got mad at him for being out on town after midnight with bros instead of helping out witn child and getting better on field. I don't know -- that's for police to find out.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:54am


Not wpkring out well here.

Not going to comment anymore of this sad tale

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:25pm

I'm not sure what this has to do with this discussion.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:56am

Maybe we shouldn't comment on what happens In games and why coaches go for it sometimes or other times punt. Or why they called for run here and pass there. Or why did so and so draft this playerr insteaf of that one? We were nit there so it is not fsiir to have opinions or thoughts on anything

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:27pm

You're absolutely right, Raiderjoe. Jovan Belcher is an inspiration to us all to get up off the carpet, stop criticizing Andy Reid's clock management, Dennis Allen's lack of testicles, and especially Scott Pioli's personnel decisions, and punt on being involved fans.