K.C. tragedy raises specter of Sean Taylor slaying

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For Alexander, it was a life-altering event that affected him more in his personal life than work life. But it had to be addressed in the locker room. That job belonged to coach Joe Gibbs, whom Cooley praised for putting Taylor’s death into perspective on an emotional and a “faith” level.

But at some point it comes down to teammates just talking about it.

“It affects everybody in the locker room. Obviously, you have different relationships with different guys, so obviously I’d be a little bit more intimate with a guy like Kedric [Golston] as far as sharing my feelings versus somebody else I’m not as tight with,” Alexander said. “So I think each and everybody has to find their own way, find that person who they trust and can rely on and console with as far as getting advice and really trying to get through a situation like that.”

There’s no way to compare how each 2007 Redskins player coped with Taylor’s death, just as it will never be possible to gauge how Chiefs players are dealing with Belcher‘s.

“Certain guys are not going to be affected. As a team, we were all affected,” said wide receiver Santana Moss, who this week was reluctant to think about Taylor’s death. “Certain guys that were closer, they were probably going to be affected a little different than guys who just knew him as a teammate.”

Taylor was 24 and a Pro Bowl safety and, in Cooley’s words, was seen by teammates as “invincible.” At 25, Belcher was a four-year starter with his career seemingly ahead of him.

The Redskins finished the 2007 season with a postseason appearance. Of course, it was in Taylor’s memory.

“It wasn’t a benefit to us, but we ended up going on and winning four games [to finish] that year and making the playoffs when we had no business making the playoffs,” Cooley said. “We went on a streak that we had no business going on. A group of guys got together and played for Sean.”

At 2-10, the Chiefs could finish with the worst record in the NFL. But the grieving process has less to do with football and more to do with communicating in the locker room.

“Everybody responds to situations in a different manner. You’ve just got to kind of find what works for you,” Alexander said. “I would say definitely do it in a healthy matter, whether that’s talking to the team chaplain, a teammate, a coach, a counselor and not ever kind of going toward other outlets like alcohol or drugs that some people may rely on during circumstances to numb themselves. Definitely [be] proactive and positive for whichever way you decide to grieve.”

The circumstances of Belcher’s death, which also include murder, is a glaring difference from other recent tragedies. But that doesn’t necessarily change how teammates move on and make peace with this.

“He was going through a hard situation in his life. It was a different situation. But everyone had a relationship with him,” Cooley said. “I think a devastating loss resonates a lot the same in any way.”

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