The aim is to examine the late linebacker's brain for signs of concussions that could have contributed to the Dec. 1, 2012, murder-suicide that left Belcher and his girlfriend dead.
Lawyer Dirk Vandever said the exhumation took place at the New York cemetery where Belcher was buried after killing Kasandra Perkins at their home and then driving to the Chiefs' practice facility and shooting himself.
The Kansas City Star said the exhumation was believed to be the first time the body of an NFL player had been re-examined for signs of brain injury. Such injuries are believed to contribute to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in football players, which has been linked to depression, suicide and aggression.
"If his brain had been examined [when he died], we'd have a better understanding of why he did what he did, we would have a better understanding about concussions and playing football, and we would advance the understanding of the science of all of this," Bennet Omalu, who is credited with discovering CTE, told the newspaper.
Belcher did not have a history of concussions while playing; however the Star said his acquaintances told reporters he had become more irritable and was drinking more in the months leading up to his death.
The coroner's office in Kansas City told the Star its job was strictly to determine the cause of death in the Belcher case, which was why they did not look for indications of CTE prior to embalming and burial.
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