Jovan Belcher was an NCAA football player who then moved on to play in the NFL as a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. He experienced the lows and highs of being a pro athlete. Many of his friends are now recounting the days leading up to his last act of murdering his girlfriend then committing suicide in front of the team’s coach and general manager.
A few weeks before the events of December 1, 2012, Belcher had played a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had one notable violent tackle that caused him to collect himself for a moment while on the ground. He finished playing the game.
In the days following that tackle, something was off. Friends and former teammates describe forgetfulness, headaches and rushes of emotional anger. A former teammate said Belcher was convinced he’d suffered concussions during his last year of play. College teammates also recounted times he had suffered concussions.
Although none of this can soothe or remedy the tragic events of that day, Belcher’s history provides insight into his possible mindset. Long-term head injuries can cause loss of impulse control, irritability, depression and paranoia along with suicidal thoughts. Football has long been known as a dangerous sport, however, the long-term brain damage effects have not been widely known. It appears the NFL knew about these dangers many years before there was any action to minimize risks for players. In this regard, the NCAA has unfortunately followed the NFL’s lead – or tragic lack of leadership.
If you or someone you love has suffered long-term brain damage from participating on an NCAA team, please contact the attorneys at Raizner Slania.