Jovan Belcher's story is one we're all familiar with. The talented young man, battling demons none of us ever hope to encounter, took his own life and the life of his girlfriend in December 2012. Our new Assistant GM, Scott Pioli, witnessed the suicide, after trying in vain to talk Belcher out of it. Fast forward thirteen months and I'm sure the tragedy still weighs heavily on Pioli. But that said, his grace in anchoring a then-reeling Chiefs franchise was nothing short of miraculous.
"There was so much emotion involved that it was hard for anybody to come back to that and look at football the same way," Quinn said in a phone interview Wednesday.
"In regards to Scott Pioli, I couldn't imagine being a guy who was intricately involved in bringing [Belcher] to Kansas City and having to witness that: a young man that he saw grow and mature as a player and a person. When I talked to [Pioli], it was more about feeling as if what we could have done to change the outcome. But he did everything in his power for us afterward. We had a pastor around almost full time to help us get through, answer questions, and understand everything that was taking place. He did everything possible to make sure guys could grieve in the manner they needed to and find some sort of peace after what had taken place."
You can't undervalue Pioli's experience under pressure. The man gets a lot of credit for building offensive and defensive fronts, but in truth, he's so much more than that. What the Chiefs went through two seasons ago is hard to articulate. It was absolutely devastating. When you talk to the players who were actually there, Pioli was the glue that held them together.
None of us want to see Belcher's story or anything like it play out for the masses ever again. Pioli's been there, he's overcome indescribable hardship. It's even more impressive that the Chiefs had such a relatively successful 2013. Having someone like that in your front office is a definite plus.