A mix of shock and sadness resonated among the friends who knew Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs player who committed suicide and shot and killed his girlfriend on Saturday morning. Belcher hailed from Long Island and starred at Maine before making the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He was described this way in a 2008 profile in the Boston Globe: "Belcher will graduate in December after just 3½ years at Maine. He's a child development and family relations major, and hopes to tackle working with troubled adolescents after graduation." Friends expressed their disbelief to SI.com.
"He was the standard. You wanted to recruit more guys like Jovan Belcher. I still have photos of him holding our baby, who is a first-grader now. Our family loved him. He was the standard of what you wanted to have in your football program."
"No. Not at all (did he have issues with concussions). He probably gave a few in his day. He wasn't a guy, not to my memory, did he ever have concussion. He was a guy who never missed anything. He was a durable tough football player."
"I don't know all the details. I can't wrap my mind around it. It's sad. He's a great kid. We all loved him and we're proud of him. It's sad and it's tragic."
"He was the standard. He was never on any lists. He was never a guy in trouble on campus. You got on lists for different things in football like missing study hall or if you don't go to class or getting in trouble off campus. He wasn't one of those guys. He was what we expected our players to do and be."
"He loved to play football. He loved the game. He loved everything about the game. He was a great teammate. He played hard. He was one of those guys who enjoyed playing the game of football."
"He started at SAM Linebacker (the first game of his career at Nebraska). Quick story on that. We went into one of our, first or second big scrimmage of fall training camp. He was No. 3 on depth chart. After that scrimmage he was first and never left the field after that. He started at Nebraska as a wide-eyed true freshman. I know it was double-digits in tackles and he did a great job. Believe it or not he was a little undersized. He did a great job. He was holding his own and being a very productive player as a true freshman."
(Belcher had two sacks of Ohio State transfer Robby Schoenhoft and two forced two fumbles in a 27-10 upset at Delaware in 2008.)
"He was a special player. He was one of those handful of kids when you're putting your game plan together and drawing it up, you say, 'How are we going to block No. 9?' Just his relentlessness. That was the thing you remember about him. He was just relentless. Every time you saw film from another game, you said, 'God, this kid plays so hard with such passion. He's one of those handful of players you remember forever."
"He was not a kid that you would say, he's 6-3, 245. This kid earned his reputation on how hard he played. Anyone who has ever played respects those guys more than anyone else."
"It's been tough. I know our coach (Jack Cosgrove) has sent out emails about obviously sticking together and being there for each other. Its really surprising that something like this came up with someone who had so much going on for him. We can't believe it."
"We're trying to figure out what was really going on in his life. You wouldn't expect someone who had the opportunities for his career and his life. You would think he had so much going for him."
"It really is a complete shock."
"He was a very focused guy. When he came into the program at that young age. He was focused and ready to play football. You could count on him at such a young age. You knew he would do the job beyond what you would expect as a freshman."
"He's a brother even though I ever met him. He's a brother by going to the University of Maine."
"Yes, it was shock. The people that I have spoke to about him, say he's a great guy. No one had expected him to go and commit suicide."