What happened Saturday in Kansas City was a terrible tragedy, when a Chiefs linebacker murdered his girlfriend, drove to Arrowhead Stadium, and shot himself in front of his Coach and General Manager. Despite the despicable nature of this incident, how many fantasy football contestants heard this news and immediately wondered what possible effect this might have on their fantasy playoff picture? We have often seen situations where a football player has experienced the loss of a family member, they dedicate the next game to the memory of the deceased, and have an epic performance. Torey Smith and Victor Cruz have done so this year alone. Dedicating a game to a deceased friend or relative often leads to a substantial boost in player performance, but does the same phenomenon occur when dealing with a teammate who murdered the mother of his child and shot himself in the stadium parking lot the day before a game? I feel like that's something that needs to be measured empirically, but the sample size is just one.
What has to happen for a sane, otherwise rational person to snap and commit such an unthinkable act? Domestic violence is more common than we as a society would like it to be, but incidents such as this are extremely rare among professional athletes. In recent years, there has been a significant number of suicides among former football players (and hockey enforcers), where autopsies showed significant brain damage. Is this player a villain or a victim? How the Kansas City Chiefs players perceive it may or may not affect their performance in the next few weeks.
Did this player experience a major brain trauma, or was he just a bad person? We can't know for sure at this time. It all depends on perception. He is described as succeeding despite a limited skill set, so was he abusing performance enhancing drugs to make it at the NFL level? If he were experiencing "roid rage", it would be a possible plausible explanation for what caused him to snap. Mix in possible brain damage from repeated collisions, and you could see how the villain could become a perceived victim in this set of circumstances. Perhaps the best course of action is to compile a list of "dead relative/teammate" incidents against "teammate did a bad thing" incidents, and measure how teams responded. I'm sorry, that study won't be included in this post, but it's bouncing around my brain at the moment.
I don't even know whether or not to recommend "start your Chiefs" or "start your Panthers" for Sunday. It's not a sure thing how the team will respond. We'll find out today.