Their emotions remain raw following a week when their schedule included a memorial service. The Kansas City Chiefs are recovering from an unspeakable tragedy that has altered an already difficult season, changed lives and provoked some questions that may never be answered.
As difficult as it may be, they must play again — this time on the road.
Still searching for normalcy one week after linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then drove to the team’s practice facility and committed suicide, the Chiefs will return to the field Sunday. They visit the Cleveland Browns, a team also touched by heartbreak after a member of its grounds-keeping staff took his life.
For Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who had pleaded with Belcher to put down his gun, the pain and sorrow linger. Crennel understands he must lead his grieving team.
“You can’t go away from it. I’ll never be able to go away from it,” he said. “But in the business that we’re in, we have to try to move on and we have to try to focus on our job. And that’s the way life is.”
The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Crennel, quarterback Brady Quinn, running back Peyton Hillis and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, all of whom were with the Browns (4-8).
At one point, Quinn was thought to be Cleveland’s franchise quarterback. He was drafted by the Browns in the first round in 2007, and had some solid games for Cleveland before he was traded in 2010 to Denver — ironically for Hillis, who engaged in some back-and-forth trash talk with Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas this week.
Now, Quinn is returning to play his former team following the best game of his career. Putting aside his feelings and showing remarkable leadership, Quinn completed 19 of 23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in Kansas City’s win. He posted a 132.1 passer rating and was the AFC offensive player of the week.
There couldn’t be much tougher circumstances for a quarterback, and Quinn delivered. He showed his teammates the way for three challenging hours on the field.
“My thoughts and concerns were just trying to focus and do the best I can during the game while I was playing,” he said.