Jovan Belcher is not the first Kansas City Chiefs football player to commit murder after killing the mother of his child. Back in September, 1980 former Chiefs player Jim Tyrer killed his wife, Martha, and mother of their four children and then shot himself. Despite having killed his wife, Tyrer was recently honored for his football accomplishments with a permanent plaque at the Chiefs’ stadium in September, 2012. Apparently, few see the inconsistency in honoring a murderer for his past sports accomplishments.
Jim Tyrer was part of the Chiefs Super bowl team of 1969 and played from 1961 – 1973 with the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring with the Redskins in 1974. A 20-30 foot name plate in the Chiefs Ring of Honor was erected on the Kansas City Chiefs stadium in September, 2012, making him a hero, along with other Chiefs Hall of Fame inductees. And checking some online comments suggests that some people still want Jim Tyrer in the NFL Hall of Fame—despite being a murderer. He’s been in the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame since 1977.
Belcher and Tyrer are not the only football players to kill their girlfriend or wife. O.J. Simpson is the most celebrated one who in a civil trial was held responsible for the killing of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. Then there’s also former Carolina Panthers player Rae Carruth who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder of his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant with their child. Yet, Tyrer still remains a decorated hero in the eyes of many persons living in Kansas City and elsewhere. It is as if he gets a pass on killing because he also took his own life. Recently, there’s been similar sentiment surrounding Jovan Belcher.
We glorify sports figures so much in this country that we will overlook their faults including murder, as long as they kill themselves in the process. If sports figures don’t commit a suicide, they remain a villain as in the case of O.J. Simpson and Rae Carruth. The truth is there is no difference between O.J. Simpson, Jovan Belcher, Rae Carruth or Jim Tyrer. They all reportedly killed their spouse or girlfriend. Murder is still murder whether you kill your fool self after the murder or not. And the killing of a spouse or girlfriend is domestic violence- pure and simple.
There’s no need to glorify any of these players’ accomplishments or honor them. No sports figure should be honored after murdering and taking the life of another human being. And it could only happen in the sports world that anyone would even do such a callous and unthinkable act. Very few people would think to honor O.J. Simpson for any of his great football achievements. Likewise, there should be no honors for Jim Tyrer. The one already erected in 2012 should be taken down. And I hope the Chiefs do not plan any honors, plaques or permanent strolls down memory lane in honor of Belcher.
More attention needs to be placed on the victims, the wives, girlfriends and children left behind, in these cases and less on glorifying the sports figures who are the murderers. Hardly, any mention is made of the name of Tyrer’s wife in many accounts. She is referred to simply as “the wife” or mother of four children. Her name was Martha. Likewise, much emphasis and attention is placed on Jovan Belcher, due to his status as a football player and not on the real victim, Kasandra Perkins.
All of these players took someone’s life—committing murder, the most heinous crime of all. They do not deserve a pass, plaques, honors or awards.
Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national, international and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, local NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and Washington Times among others. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center.