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Kansas City Chiefs will play Carolina Panthers as scheduled after Jovan Belcher's death

Inside linebacker Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City

Inside linebacker Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs watches from the sideline during his final game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (Nov. 25, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

KANSAS CITY - The Kansas City Chiefs will play their 1 p.m. game today against the Carolina Panthers.

The decision to play comes in light of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, a 25-year-old from West Babylon, fatally shooting his girlfriend before driving to Arrowhead Stadium and shooting himself in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, according to police.

A statement on the Chiefs' website said the decision came "after discussions between the league office, head coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains," quarterback Matt Cassel, linebacker Derrick Johnson, punter Dustin Colquitt, guard Ryan Lilja, receiver Terrance Copper and safety Eric Berry.

Belcher, undrafted out of the University of Maine, was a classic case of a young football player who dreamed of making it to the NFL, but had to get there in an unconventional way by proving to the skeptics that he could make it despite being overlooked by scouts.

"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement. "We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted," Hunt said. "We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization."

Chiefs Linebacker Tamba Hali wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday, "I am devastated by this mornings events. I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everyone effected by this tragedy."

With Alex M. Silverman

New York Sports