KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs returned to work Monday at their practice facility near Arrowhead Stadium, trying to find a sense of normalcy after two days of unimaginable heartache.
It proved nearly impossible to do.
The locker that once belong to Jovan Belcher, the linebacker who killed his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself Saturday, still had all his belongings in it. His shoes were piled up on the floor and freshly laundered clothes hung from a hook.
To enter the building, Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli had to walk past the place in the parking lot where Belcher put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Crennel acknowledged an unsettling feeling had come over him.
Teammates gathered in meetings and to watch film from Sunday’s emotional 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers, one that ended an eight-game losing streak. They couldn’t help but notice the empty seat that once belonged to their close friend.
“We have to deal with the events of the last few days, and it’s not over, and it may not be over for some of us for most of our lives, but time heals all wounds, and so we’re going to start working on the time thing,” said Crennel, who’s been a rock for everyone in the organization.
“It was like coming to work like you normally do,” he said. “Now you think about the events as you walk through the door and walk through the parking lot, but you know the events are over, and you can’t undo them. All you can do is work for the future and toward the future.”
That’s what the Chiefs tried to do Monday.
They gathered for their normal team meetings in the morning, and watched video of their win over Carolina. They broke midafternoon to begin planning for next Sunday’s game at Cleveland.
Still, there were signs at every turn that nothing was quite as usual.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt routinely sticks around the day after a game, but this time he was there to lend support to an organization in mourning. Chaplains also were at the facility, as were grief counselors brought in to help players and staff come to grips with tragedy.
“Its new territory for everyone,” tight end Tony Moeaki said. “We’re all trying to figure out how to handle the situation. We’re just trying to take it one day at a time, come into meetings — it’s nice to be in meetings, watching film. Your mind’s not on it as much.”