Jerron McMillian heard the news like most on Saturday afternoon.
At first, all the Green Bay Packers rookie safety knew was an unidentified Kansas City Chiefs player was dead as part of an apparent murder-suicide that concluded at team facilities.
When McMillian finally found out it was Jovan Belcher, a former teammate at the University of Maine, his heart dropped.
“It touched me,” McMillian said following the Packers' 23-14 win over Minnesota on Sunday. “At first, you don’t really know if it actually happened, but you hear it more and more. Then, it hits you.”
On Saturday, Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, before driving to Arrowhead Stadium and committing suicide in front of his Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel after thanking them for all they’d done.
McMillian played his first two seasons at Maine with Belcher, a fourth-year linebacker who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2009. When the Packers played the Chiefs in the teams’ preseason finale in August, the two reconnected and stayed in touch for a few days that followed.
Remembered as a jovial character who took his work serious on the football field, McMillian said he talked to several of his college teammates today and never would have expected Belcher to be the party responsible for a tragedy.
“No, never. I would next expect that from him,” McMillian said. “From the type of person he was outside of football, to have something so tragic happen, sometimes I just don’t understand.”
At the same time, McMillian admitted you never know what a person is going through. A Newsday report on Sunday indicated Belcher and Perkins relationship that produced a 3-month-old daughter was strained.
“A lot of people outside of football don’t understand what players actually go through when they’re not doing their job,” McMillian said. “You don’t know what type of emotion or what they could be going through. It’s always something you don’t really know about and you don’t have a clue. When you do find out, it’s like man, if I could have done something to help him.”