December 2, 2012

Did head injuries play role in Belcher murder-suicide?

NY Post - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker and former Long Island high-school star Jovan Belcher was allegedly battling football-related head injuries and booze, painkiller and domestic problems when he snapped and murdered his girlfriend before killing himself in front of two coaches Saturday.

...Kansas City Chiefs running back Jovan Belcher battled head injuries, drugs and alcohol before he snapped and killed his girlfriend Michele Perkins, friends said.

It didn’t help that he was drinking every day and taking painkillers while dealing with the effects of debilitating head injuries, the friend said.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said today that Belcher was "a player who had not had a long concussion history.’’

Daily Mail, UK - The friend adds that many of their recent arguments focused on Perkins failing college classes Belcher paid for and quitting her retail job, as well as telling Belcher that she was leaving him and would find a lawyer to 'get as much money as possible' from the football player.

And Belcher may have reacted to all this differently if he wasn't messed up from booze, meds, and taking shots to the head on the field.

'When it comes to prescription medication it is unclear from my perspective whether it was diagnosed and authorized by the team or not,' the friend wrote. 'However I know he was under the influence of narcotics for pain and I'm sure the toxicology report will reflect this. However, Jovan drank alot. On a nightly basis. This is not a mystery as he did so in public and private.

'When it comes to his concussions; if you review the footage of the Cincinnati game he took a few hits to the head directly [...] he was dazed and was suffering from short term memory loss. He could not remember the events that had taken place prior to that game or what he had said to get Kasi to return home.'

.... Whilst at UMaine he was part of MAAV which describes itself as an ‘effort to involve men so that we can begin to understand that violence is very much a ‘man’s issue.’’

It supports the White Ribbon campaign in which male athletes wear a white ribbon as a public display of their stand against violent men.

Among the promotional posters are some with football players which have slogans like: ‘Join the huddle. Work together to end violence’ and ‘Stand tough against violence’.

Belcher himself has even spoken about his respect for women which he developed because his father was never around.

In a 2008 interview he said: ‘My mother is a hardworking woman.

‘To see her overcome some things and succeed, it makes me look at things and say, ‘this isn’t even hard.’

‘I didn’t really have a father figure, so they provided nice guidance for me.


Anonymous said...

Head injuries for someone so young might be a stretch in terms of an explanation. What does come immediately to mind for this writer are questions associated with steroid abuse. 'Roid Rage ought not be ruled out, however, any mention of that subject seems to be taboo.

Anonymous said...

Head injury severity isn't age-related. A child can be left with permanent damage from a relatively small accident, or survive a major one without impairment. Ditto adults.

Anonymous said...

How long had he been playing full contact football? Without looking at his bio, I'm guessing 12 years or so? 4 years of high school football. 4 years of college football. A little less than four years in the pros. How many practices had he participated in, as well as games?

How many times in all of that did he 'get his bell rung'? How many impacts to the head.

Age isn't the determining factor.

It didn't help any that he was dealing with likely brain damage in a society where guns, painkillers and booze are all readily available.

Anonymous said...

And in the zeal to become competitive on an NFL level, one has to wonder how tempted Belcher may have been to resort to steroids. Pro sports are filthy with performance enhancing drug abuse. Fortunes are made developing techniques to defy exposure. Even when players do become 'clean', the damage may already have occurred and the side effects linger on. Consider the following:

"... high doses of anabolic steroids are associated with an array of adverse psychiatric effects, including aggression, violent outbursts, hypomania, and depression. These symptoms generally become more prominent as the steroid dose increases, but they do not manifest in all users uniformly.

Aggression is the No. 1 reported symptom among anabolic steroid users."

"When a person uses anabolic steroids, the chemicals interfere in the normal function of the limbic system, which is located in the temporal lobe in the brain. Part of the limbic system is the amygdala, which is involved in emotional behavior. NIDA notes that synthetic steroids cause aggressive behavior, which is colloquially referred to as "roid rage." The Connecticut Clearinghouse adds that anabolic steroid users are prone to mood swings, violent behavior and psychotic symptoms, which include hallucinations and delusions."

"Studies have shown there are “critical periods”—periods of time during adolescence when exposure to steroids can impose permanent changes in both brain organization and function, leading to physiological and psychiatric effects that may still be prevalent even in middle age. The age at which you take them also affects their persistence. From studies using rodents as an animal model, other investigators have also found that, “if you take steroids as an adolescent, those effects are much longer lasting in terms of their negative effects on behavior, especially aggression, than if you take them as an adult,” Henderson comments."

Anonymous said...

The problem with blaiming steroids is that he was apparently calm and rational before he killed himself. That sounds a lot more like brain damage than chemically-"enhanced" emotions.

Anonymous said...

Rational?---He'd just shot the mother of his baby nine times...
It is not a matter of 'enhanced emotions', steroids alter brain structure and brain chemistry, thus altering behavior.
Concussion usually manifests in diminution of motor skill, hand-eye coordination, balance difficulties, disrupted vision, and confusion. Noticeable expression of dementia tends to appear later in time---consider the the very obvious examples found in the sport of boxing.
This is not to rule out the possibility that Belcher's condition was the sole result of physical trauma. However, given that Belcher had a history of violent outbursts while attending college, one wonders...