'One of everyone's favorite teammates'
December 3rd, 2012
10:17 AM ET

A gun control halftime show: Should Bob Costas have spoken out on Belcher suicide?

There are a few things you can usually expect out of an NFL halftime show. A debate about gun control isn't one of them.

But Sunday wasn't a normal day in the NFL. It was two days after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of his child, before killing himself outside the front door of the Chiefs' practice facility.

It was shocking. And it was expected that this tragedy would seep through into Sunday's football coverage.

But many people were not expecting Bob Costas to make a plea for gun control.

During halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Costas blamed the nation's gun culture for what happened between Belcher and his girlfriend, remarks that set off a heated debate about whether the sportscaster should have launched into what some called a "rant" on gun control.

Here's a transcript of Costas' comments:

"Well, you know that it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: Something like this really puts it all in perspective.

Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.

You want some actual perspective on this? Well, a bit of it comes from a Kansas City based-writer, Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree but who today said it so well today that we may as well as quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

‘Our current gun culture,' Whitlock wrote,  '... ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenaged boys bloody and dead. ...

'Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.'

In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connections to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." (You can read Whitlock's column here.)

Costas' remarks seemed to send the Internet into an immediate feeding frenzy.  Was it appropriate for him to talk about a political issue during a sports show? What is the right forum for this kind of discussion? Was he only saying what everyone else was already thinking? The comments kept flying:

Costas declined to comment on his remarks.

Gun control has always been divisive. If you remember, it had been practically impossible to get the presidential candidates to talk about the issue. "Saturday Night Live" even mocked the candidates' avoidance of it during a skit on the presidential debates.

There was equal outrage online Sunday regarding CBS' football preshow, which took five minutes before mentioning the tragedy and seemed to feature more about a Victoria's Secret fashion show and hard-hitting commentary about the color of the anchors' ties instead of a serious issue.

The main point here may be you can't please everybody. There will always be critics when it comes to an issue that sparks such intense debate. But does that mean you don't even touch it? Or did Costas' comments do exactly what he may have intended reigniting the debate over gun control?

Opinion: Manhood, football and suicide

Let us know how you feel about Costas' remarks in the polls below and sound off in the comments. We'd love to hear your take on the issue.

soundoff (1,256 Responses)
  1. ThatsJustCrazy

    I lost respect for Bob Costas!

    December 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David Larsen

    Took offense to what Bob Costas said on his Gun SPEEEEEEEEECH. Do not know who said he was an expert on this issue, but such an expert is usually best described as ( A DRIP UNDER PRESSURE ) what perceives him to drag Canadains into the issue, we have nothing to do with the US gun controls, but perhaps it might be that the issue just might have a little merit as such a little thing as a in depth study comparing the two countries as to the violence per capita might tell the American public something of resolve in helping them with the gun violence that seems to be very common in the US way of life. I read somewhere that in one of the American cities a murder happens every so many minutes, well every day it happens is too much never mind every day. I am sure and I believe most US citizens would agree that guns are just too easily accessed in volitile situations and if that was not the case the issue would not be what it is today, but what has Canada got to do with it, running Canada down is not going to solve the US gun control problem, but to the friends we do have down there I do say good luck with it. I would like to point out something else while I am here, " it is not just the citizens of the US that are Americans, everyone who lives in the Western Hemisphere is AMERICAN whether it be North, Central, or Southern, we are all American" Sincerely David Larsen

    December 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anonymous Blogger

    People always say either one of the two phrases "Guns kill" or "Guns Don't Kill". However you look at it though, guns make it a whole lot easier for a person to kill another living species. If there were no guns, the victim would of had better odds of getting away. With a gun if she runs, he can still shoot at her. Without a gun, she can fight back.

    Also, the athlete would of had to put more thought into killing himself without a gun. Should I take pills (I don't like pills), hit myself with a bat on the head (that won't work, damn!), hang myself (too much of a struggle and work involved). But, Oh yeah! I have a gun, bang bang I shot you down and me too.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      If there were no guns then we'd move on to the next most efficient way of killing people. I believe there was an incident this last week where someone used a bow and arrow to kill people. We could always go back to straight razors, brass knuckles, baseball bats, swords, axes, and other kinds of improvised weapons. Guns simply make it more efficient to kill. The weapon must be wielded by a person to be dangerous. It's the person who kills using the most efficient tool available. In this case the person killed with a pistol. He could have easily snapped her neck, cut her throat, or otherwise dispatched her with any other make shift weapon. Hell, he could have used rope and then hung himself. It takes a person, not a weapon, to commit murder.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • gunless

      This.

      This is the point Costas is making - guns make tragedy easier. It's a simple point-and-click solution to a personal crisis ending in two dead. How many murder-suicides have you heard about that did NOT involve a gun? Thought so.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Matt

      "Guns simply make it more efficient to kill."

      There it is. Your own argument is the only argument.

      It is easier to kill. It is easier to kill more. It is easier to kill more efficiently.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anoymous Blogger

      Gunless – Thumbs Up on your Comment

      December 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Gun control in the US is an obvious problem, but people would rather keep their heads in the sand. Gun deaths are FAR HIGHER in the US than in other advanced countries which have strict gun control laws. Gun control laws significantly reduce the number of gun related deaths, it's that simple. This is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. Costas was not stating an opinion, he was stating facts recognized by a vast majority of criminologists. But facts get a hard rap in this country, where half the population still believes the earth was created in 7 days. Why do we have so much trouble with science and facts? Poor America.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmiller

      Gun control is absurd logic. If gun control worked England would have lower murder rates than the US......what? England does have lower murder rates?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scarface86

      D.C. and Chicago had pretty strict gun control laws. How did that work out for them?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      So if you take the gun out of the hands of someone who would shoot his girlfriend 9 times then that would really stop him from killing his girlfriend. Take your head out of the sand when someone murders another person its not the gun that causes the murder but the person pulling the trigger. If he had stabbed her 9 times would we be debating about knife control in the US and state how many deaths happen a year from stabbings.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • billybill

      Is that higher gross or higher per capita? I hope it is the latter as the former is not a viable number for comparison given disparity in sizes of populations, you need it as a percentage of the whole and not a stand alone running total. So what exactly are the numbers so that we all may be better enlightened? It is about learning to interpret statistics as opposed to regurgitating them.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Gun control is not the issue. If the guy wanted to kill his girlfriend, he was going to do it with or without a gun!. There is no such thing as good gun control. Yes guns can be taken away from people, but that will not make anything safer. When the only people that have guns are the criminals and the government( criminals also) the everage citizen has no chance to defend them self.
      I will carry my gun with pride and pitty anyone that tries to do harm to my family or myself.

      Once the government tris to take guns away.. we will end up just like China and Nazi Germany...when only the criminals and corrupt government has guns

      December 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • @billybill

      "Is that higher gross or higher per capita? I hope it is the latter as the former is not a viable number for comparison given disparity in sizes of populations, you need it as a percentage of the whole and not a stand alone running total. So what exactly are the numbers so that we all may be better enlightened? It is about learning to interpret statistics as opposed to regurgitating them."

      Or you can just focus on the numbers and attempt to skew them to fit your agenda.

      Always with the Semantics speak – the GOP is dead.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Jason

      "I will carry my gun with pride and pitty anyone that tries to do harm to my family or myself."

      Another 'net tough guy who cannot even spell a four letter word and is a gun advocate (who probably has no gun or license to carry).

      I've seen what I needed to see.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • David J Hearne

      I would agree with your statement "Gun control laws significantly reduce the number of gun related deaths, it's that simple. BUT it doesn't necessarily reduce the number of people murdered in fits of rage. I think this football player could just as easily killed his victims with his bare hands, a knife, baseball bat or whatever. The problem is people not the device they used to kill with. IT's our flawed brain and emotions that kill people. We decide to act and we select our weapon and do the deed. Use to be long bows, swords, muskets, poleax, military fork, meat cleaver now the weapon of choice is the gun to complain about. The main question is why we have this huge flaw within us that allows us to lose control and kill others so easily. That flaw has been a part of our being since the beginning of time. I think the fact that we actually have access to guns reduces the number of people killed in the states where people can carry. AND last of all – of course we are likely to have a higher rate of murder by guns in our country than other countries because we are the third most populous country in the world after china and india.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. s kel

    I care what the Presidents March Maddness bracelet looks like! So you stick to your statments and stop making assinine statments.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. VistaPoint

    Bob Costas hit the nail on the head. I am so glad he brought up the issue. I have a new found respect for Mr. Costas. Those arguing for guns must be brain dead. Please look around at all the countries where guns are not permitted. Data will prove that the number of homicides are extremely low. Yes; there are crimes, but not killings. People do irrational things in anger only to regret later. If the gun was not handy, the player may have hit his girl friend, but less likely to kill her. And he would not have killed himdelf either. GUNS are designed to kill a living beings. Without the guns, life would be much more safe.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Williams, PHD.

    As a Constitutional Scholar I can assure you the Amendments are in fact ordered by their importance.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sb

    there was a post above "If OJ Simpson did not have a handgun, Nicole and Ron would still be alive today".

    Well, my memory may not be that good, but I seem to recall Ron and Nicole where stabbed and slashed. Maybe we should also talk "knife control"?

    December 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • @sb

      Yes.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Knife control, baseball bat control, ball point pen control, screw driver control, vehicle control, shall I go on?

      How about we stop glorifying violence and see what happens?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetMarine

      SB, that is the funniest stuff I have seen in this post; I completely over looked that when I read the earlier post...looks like you may be the most observant person on here. Great catch.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      "Knife control, baseball bat control, ball point pen control, screw driver control, vehicle control, shall I go on?
      How about we stop glorifying violence and see what happens?"

      Ummm are you seriously blaming videogames and movies?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DJMac

    I totally agree with Underhill. Costas needs to stick to sports and keep his personal opinions, about anything else, to himself.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vi Cauthon

    If you expect sports commentaries to stick to football, you're way behind the times. Bob Costas actually showed real bravery in talking on network TV about the lack of real gun control. He should be commended for his speech, not threatened by some of you gun lovers who "will never watch him again!" nonsense. Of course, you will when your favorite team is playing.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      If you want to contradict the Constitution, go to China where communism is accepted.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DMG2FUN

    Blame the gun, not the idiot using it.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • @DMG2FUN

      I blame the idiot and the gun.

      WE DO NOT NEED HANDGUNS IN THIS COUNTRY.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      And blame the idiot who sold a gun to the idiot who used it.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scarface86

      So you don't think he could have killed her with a shotgun. Kirk Cobain killed himself with a shotgun. We should ban those too, I guess.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Scarface86

      "So you don't think he could have killed her with a shotgun. Kirk Cobain killed himself with a shotgun. We should ban those too, I guess."

      It is a lot harder to walk among people unnoticed with a shotgun.

      And yes, you are still dumb.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LVSam

    If 'militia' means anyone who can fog a mirror, I want to see 'well-regulated' fully debated.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • @LVSam

      indeed.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • patsj

      Exactly!

      December 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ore Calhoun

    I'm GLAD Mr. Costas spoke up. In 2010, more than 39,000 people were murdered with a handgun. In the UK, in the same time, they had 388 murders from hand guns. I am really TIRED of the NRA calling the shots in Congress. Mr. Costas, you are singing to the choir.

    People have said that this had no place during a football game. Why not? I love football, but it still reminds me of the good ol' gladiators in Rome. So let the debate began. We need this discourse in our society.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • oregonreign

      So 2/3 of that number are suicides. By your thought process, the guns acted by themselves? Really guy? Whats your definition of 'civilized'? Gun bans or the actual society?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scarface86

      Yep, just like the gladiators, except the part where people die.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rich

    Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Maynard

    Costas was totally out of line. This was a sports/entertainment program, not a new/commentary/opinion program. If he had an opinion, he should have kept it to himself, or voiced it on another venue...

    December 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
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