The agent for both Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and Romeo Crennel, the coach who witnessed
Longtime agent Joe Linta said from his New Haven, Conn., home Saturday afternoon: "Jovan was a happy, proud father, with pictures of his baby on his Facebook page. This is shocking. Something went crazy wrong, and we'll probably never know what it is."
Kansas City police were investigating a murder-suicide on Saturday, after Belcher's girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, was shot several times and killed at the home they shared with a 3-month-old daughter in Kansas City, and Belcher shot himself in front of Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli less than an hour later. What made it more chilling is that a police spokesman said Belcher, who made the team as a longshot college free agent from Maine in 2009, thanked Crennel and Pioli before putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
Linta negotiated Crennel's head coaching contract with Pioli in January, and he is the agent of record on Belcher's one-year, $1.9 million contract signed with the Chiefs in March. As of mid-afternoon, he hadn't spoken with Crennel yet, but he said he knew how Crennel would respond if the Chiefs had to play Carolina, as scheduled, on Sunday at high noon across the parking lot in Arrowhead Stadium, just 27 hours after the double-tragedy.
"With dignity, like everything Romeo does in his life,'' said Linta. "Life doesn't hand you roses all the time. But Romeo is a salt-of-the-earth kind of person who will rely on his faith and his determination to do what he has to do, to do what's right. He will know what to say to his team, because he always knows what to say.''
Linta has a reputation in the business for taking on long-shots like Belcher, but only long-shots with character. One NFL general manager told me Saturday that he didn't have to do much homework on Linta clients off the field "because they're all borderline Eagle Scouts." Linta said he talked to Belcher a couple of times a month, and most recently noticed nothing in his voice or words that was troublesome. His relationship with Belcher was "a business relationship,'' the kind he shared with many of his clients.
You could hear the mixture of disbelief, shock and sadness in Linta's voice when he spoke Saturday afternoon. He said Belcher's financial adviser spoke to the player this week, and nothing seemed amiss then.
"Never until four hours ago did I think Jovan was anything but a model citizen,'' Linta said. "He came to my youth clinics in the offseason and worked with kids. He was a gracious, unselfish, hard-working, dedicated kid -- very, very caring of some of the underprivileged kids who came to the clinics. I saw him in a real positive way.
"I never take on anyone as a client I wouldn't be proud to take home and spend time with my wife and kids. Jovan was one of those type of people.
"There's no word for this other than shocking. That's all I can think of."