Just take us through the last 30 hours? “I don’t think anyone ever imagines waking up the day before a game, and getting informed that a player, a leader on you team, has something so tragic happen like that. Never would have thought of him, he was a leader on our team, he was a hard worker, was dedicated, was passionate about football, he played the game how it was supposed to be played. There wasn’t one player on our team that could ever see that coming. So I think trying to understand the situation was tough, or to get a sense of what had happened and who it was now going to affect - the Perkins family, the Belcher family, his daughter, for many, many years to come, not just today or the next few weeks.”
How were you able to turn what happened into one of the best games you guys have played all season? “I think in moments, in tragedies like this, they can either define you or redefine you and I think this team was able to take an event and allow it to redefine us as a team. We were battling through a lot of emotion, we were battling through a lot of difficulties on the field, you know there were a lot of injuries too and guys stepped up and played a heck of a game. So I think, really, RAC [Coach Crennel] kind of said it best before the game, just talked to us about how Jovan played the game and how he wanted us to go play that game, with the type of dedication and passion that he had.”
When did the emotions hit you? “Honestly, the whole time it’s been tough to deal with. But when I walked in the locker room I didn’t look towards his locker. Then as I sat down when I first got in I looked across and I saw his jersey hanging up, his locker was still filled with everything and that’s when it kind of hit me. It was kind of tough to step back and gain focus, what the task was in front of us, and more than anything else, as a player, we just wanted to try to come together as a team and bring some good to this situation, bring glory to the situation whenever you can.”
Why do you think today some guys who haven’t given you much, gave you their best games? “We had a great game plan going into it. Coach Daboll and the offensive staff did a tremendous job in putting together some things that we felt really solid about when watching film. We try to say the best attack is a balanced attack; it keeps teams on their toes and I think that is what you saw out there. Again, we sort of implemented more guys into it, which makes it harder to stop, makes it harder to try to take away something that we are trying to get production out of on offense. I think we tried to spread the ball around and really, this game plan doesn’t work without our offensive line blocking the way they did in the run game and our tight ends and our running backs did an amazing, job.
Can you talk about the emotion after the game? “It was tough. I think it was an eerie feeling after a win because you don’t think that you can win in this situation. The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people. I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us. Hopefully people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”
What are you guys going to do for Jovan’s daughter? “We are going to try to put together a fund for her. Obviously, without having either parent in her life now I think it is important that she understands what type of love that she should get from a family, and Jovan was part of our family. We make sure to take care of our own, so we want to try to put together a fund and we will have more information and details as to where you can go to donate, but we just want her to understand. You know, at one point in time she might have some questions in life and we want her to understand how much she is loved and not reflect back on a thing like this and look on it in a negative way. Hopefully she can understand, try to find a peace with it and move forward with her life.”
How much will being together for four more games help you guys? “I don’t know. Right now I think there are a lot of guys...I was just trying to get through the rest of today, to be honest with you. We were trying to prepare for a game after it happened like this and I think the emotions of what has taken place are probably going to hit home with a few guys, probably in the next couple days, when they really come to realize what has taken place.”