KANSAS CITY, MO. -- The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday included an unlikely guest, a woman who lives at Hope House, a shelter for domestic-violence victims. She went to the game without any of her fellow residents, using one of the tickets that the Chiefs regularly provide to the house. She braced herself for the moment when the team honored the memory of linebacker Jovan Belcher, who the day before had killed Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his baby daughter, and then himself.
This woman had once come so close to death at the hands of her abuser that she can remember, through her haze, hearing the EMTs saying: "We're losing her.'' Why she went to the stadium on such a haunted day remains unclear. For security reasons, she could not be interviewed directly. A counselor related her experience.
But while many fans at Arrowhead insisted that it would be wrong to honor Belcher before the game, the woman from Hope House didn't expect any better, not for herself or for Perkins, the 22-year-old who had recently called Belcher "Superman'' on her Facebook page.
Then the public-address announcer spoke, asking everyone to pay respect to victims of domestic violence. There was no mention of Belcher, the overachieving No. 59, described as an impeccable teammate and friend in so many of the morning news accounts. The woman looked around and saw comforting messages on the stadium scoreboards, saying she and other victims weren't alone. She couldn't believe it.