As the Chiefs organization continues to wrestle with the tragic events of Saturday, the personnel who witnessed linebacker Jovan Belcher’s suicide will be required by the league to submit to mandatory counseling.
NFL V.P. of player engagement Troy Vincent told Lindsay Jones of USA Today that G.M. Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel, and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs will receive counseling services.
“We’re always going to say, ‘I’m OK, I’m good.’ That’s us,” Vincent said. “Especially inside of this space, from a coaching standpoint or a player standpoint, it’s, ‘I’m good.’ No, we’re not good. Witnessing that kind of event is horrific. It’s not about closing the door, not about being the gladiator, the tough, immortal football player that we’ve always developed into being. This is serious. This is a mental, visual image that we need to talk through, and this is OK.”
Vincent is right. The fact that Pioli and Crennel are leaders of the organization could mean that they’ll spend too much time worry about others and not enough time worrying about themselves.
As Rodney Harrison explained earlier this week on Pro Football Talk, football players (and, really, men generally) internalize their feelings and emotions in order to appear strong, not weak. At a certain point, showing weakness is a sign of strength. Here’s hoping that everyone in the Chiefs organization who needs help will get it, and that the broader lesson for the rest of us will be to not ignore our issues and challenges but deal with them, even if that means admitting that we don’t have all the answers, all the time.