Past and present Kansas City Chiefs players turned out Wednesday for a memorial service for teammate Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then himself over the weekend.
The team moved up its practice schedule so that players could attend Wednesday afternoon’s service at the nearby Landmark International Deliverance and Worship Center, where Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins worshipped.
The media wasn’t allowed inside.
Afterward, a coffin was wheeled from the building and driven away in a hearse.
Retired Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said Pioli and an uncle of Jovan Belcher’s spoke during the service.
“It’s done and over with and people need to get on with their lives, and the team needed to try to get forward,” Bobby Bell said.
“It’s tough on them. When you see somebody and play with them you’re buddies, friends.”
Many of the players boarded coach buses after the service, but a few walked to their own vehicles with their wives and girlfriends.
“It was good,” running back Peyton Hillis said of the service. He wouldn’t comment further.
Defensive end Ropatisp Pitoitua, kicker Ryan Succop, and linebacker Derrick Johnson said they didn’t want to be interviewed.
Before the service, veteran offensive lineman Ryan Lilja said he hoped the memorial would provide some closure for the Chiefs, who will try to win their second straight game Sunday at Cleveland.
Ryan Lilja said some players have taken advantage of counseling services that have been provided by the Chiefs and the NFL and that there’s been a change in the atmosphere around the team building.
Pastor Sylvarena Funderburke, who serves at Repairers of the Breach Christian Center in Kansas City, said she was at the service to sing I Won’t Complain, a song the Belcher family requested.
“It is an honor. We don’t always understand why things happen,” she said before the service.
“That’s when you have to rely on your faith and just trust God to give you strength to make it through tough times.”
Karen Young, who belongs to the Landmark church and serves as an usher, said Belcher and Perkins went to the church “practically” every week until the baby was born but hadn’t been seen much since then.
Larry Brown, who also attends the Landmark church, said Jovan Belcher was “gentle” and “caring” and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins “a real nice person”.
“I believed that they were made for each other,” said Larry Brown, whose brother is the church’s leader, Bishop John L. Brown.
“They didn’t appear to be the type of people who just put on facades. They were very happy. She was very genuine. Every time I saw them, they were always laughing.”
The barber shop where Jovan Belcher was a regular is in the same strip mall where the church is located. Barber Lee Garron walked over to the memorial service to pay his respects.
“He was a good person,” Lee Garron said.
“He was. He was like anyone else. You don’t know what they are thinking or what is going on in their head. It’s like you or me. You just never know.”