The good, the bad and the very ugly

We've hit that time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It's a warm fuzzy time of year. You're hearing Christmas music, putting up your tree and decorations, starting to make Christmas plans and wondering what to do with that last turkey leg.

It's time to spend, spend, spend --- money like you have it, and time with family and friends. Warm moments, special moments, memorable moments, awkward moments.

There are also sports moments, as we transition from football to basketball. Of course, the college football season still has five weeks left; the NFL will wrap up about a week before pitchers and catchers report in February.

This has certainly been a transition week for Missouri sports. Most of these moments speak for themselves.

There's been some good, some bad and some very ugly.

* The good: Missouri junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has declared for the NFL draft. That's good for him, anyway.

"I've always said that when guys have opportunities like this, if they're ready to go, then they should go,â?? Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "I have no doubt that Sheldon is ready to play in the NFL and while weâ??d love to have him for another year, the important thing is that this is the right decision.

"It will be fun watching him play on Sundays."

Richardson was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing 5-7 season for the Tigers. But his academic struggles are well-documented, including missing Missouri's second-to-last game this season because of those struggles.

Shortly, the only book Richardson will need to worry about is the playbook.

"Itâ??s not easy leaving Mizzou like this, but I know Iâ??m ready," he said. "I really appreciate all of the support I got here at Mizzou, and I know that they will help me and my family with this next step. I'll always be a Tiger."

He will likely be a first-round pick, following MU defensive linemen like Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ziggy Hood.

"This has been my dream ever since I was a little kid," Richardson said.

May your dreams come true, Sheldon.

* The bad: Michael Dixon is leaving the MU basketball program, for all the wrong reasons.

Dixon, a senior, had one rape allegation surface this year, then another recently re-surface from two years ago. Are they true? We don't know. One case can be a mistake, a vendetta; two can be a trend.

Either way, this is a really bad deal, if he did or didn't commit these crimes. He's either innocent --- no charges have been filed in either case --- or he's guilty. Neither is good.

Dixon is either a bad guy, one of the worst, or has been scarred forever by invalid accusations.

"It's been a challenging few months," he said in a statement, "and while I appreciate the support of many in the Mizzou community, including my coaches and teammates, it's in the best interest of me, my family and the University of Missouri for me to finish my career elsewhere."

May the truth come out.

* The very ugly: It doesn't get any worse than what happened Saturday morning.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, 25, shot and killed his 22 year-old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, then drove to the team's training facility and turned the gun on himself and committed suicide, according to police reports.

The latter, he did while head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli looked on --- and after their brief talk with Belcher obviously fell on deaf ears.

Cross out sports, think about life.

And death.

Belcher and Perkins leave behind a 3 month-old girl.

Tragic. Horrific. Sad beyond words. Why did this happen? How could this happen? Perhaps we'll never know, but at this point, it doesn't really matter.

Just when you thought the Chiefs' season couldn't get any worse, it gets horribly, horribly worse on a completely different level.

In the end, wins and losses don't really matter, they're going to do it again next year. For these folks and these families, there's not a next year. Or a tomorrow. Or a Merry Christmas.

There's no coming back from the transition Belcher imposed on Saturday.