In what is thought to be the first exhumation of an NFL football player, the family of Jovan Belcher petitioned to have his body exhumed on Dec. 13, 2013. The request stems from an incident on Dec. 1, 2012, when the former Chiefs linebacker shot his girlfriend nine times and then took his own life. The family is searching for answers as to what happened and why. One doctor explained that he possibly suffered from a mental illness related to his years of playing football and the concussions that often accompany the sport.
Although Belcher didn’t report concussions to team doctors, a former teammate and good friend of the player insisted that he had suffered a number of head injuries. He explained that part of the expectation of the sport was not to complain but to press through injuries and continue to play.
Other reports surfaced that Belcher had increased his consumption of alcohol and was moody and unpredictable in the months before the murder-suicide. A subsequent autopsy showed that his blood-alcohol-content level was more than double the legal limit after his death. The symptoms of his behavior match the possible effects of a degenerative disease caused by trauma to the brain.