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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. Rynomite

    If guns didn't exist, most likely Belcher's gf gets beaten to death with a baseball bat, and he overdoses on asprin shortly after.

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

    Gun control has nothing to do with this. As far as we know he was legally allowed to own a firearm. If he was not legally allowed to own a firearm then he was operating outside of the law and the person who provided him the firearm should be arrested. The problem isn't "guns". It is often times how young black men perceive having guns, using them, displaying them, etc. Look at rap, it has a long history of gun violence, violence towards women. It's not the guns, it's the culture that thinks violence solved problems.

    Don't blame guns, blame the people who commit crimes using guns.

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

      What does rap have to do with it. See this is the type of nonsense that fuels talks of bigotry. So was rap the cause of the theater shooting as well. Rap music doesn't even play into this you hypocrite. You wanna blame rap music and not blame guns? How absurd and idiotic are you? Wow.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CPC

    The only issue that was exacerbated was Costas highlighting the media directing public opinion based on HIS (Costas) personal views. This had NO place in a football broadcast. Would he have been equally as vehement, had a knife been involved and not a gun? I think not.
    The media blasted Mitt Romney as using the tragedy at the Benghazi embassy as a "campaign tactic". Yet, the media (Costas) has no problem using THIS tragedy to vomit his own politics on a national stage.
    Sadly, absolutely NOTHING will be done about it.

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

      I disagree. I think the conversation coming to light is the important thing. I really do not care if it is convenient.

      Breast Cancer kills and week in and week out we hear and see just about everything imaginable regarding Breast Cancer and Susan G Komen ....since all other diseases have been apparently cured.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WOw

    This wouldn't have happened back in the 1980's when football was actually fun to watch.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paul

    Hey, instead of making guns illegal, how about if we just make killing people illegal instead? Oh, that's right. We've done that. How's it working?

    December 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. creative36

    modern life kills. Not guns.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tesla

    Alright, so we have to ban guns. Done. Now what? Criminals still have them.

    Well, maybe we'd up police presence. A patrol per block. Cops generally patrol in pairs, so 2 officers per block. Already, cost prohibits this. But we'll keep going. Now that we have two cops per block, we'll be safe. But it would take a few minutes to properly patrol a block, and a mugging or other violent crime could take only a few seconds. How to make up the gap?

    How about cameras, and drones? Wonderful! An eye in the sky, on you at all times, with a physical police presence to boot. Again, this is cost prohibitive. But what about the military and the NSA, CIA, and FBI? Perfect! They could take care of the policing. After all, we all want to be safe.

    But... dang, this was a domestic dispute! It happened in public this time, but don't they usually happen in private? We need to make sure to protect ourselves, and by that, I of course mean have the government protect us! Cameras in homes! We can never be too safe. This will ensure the safety and security of future generations, who will never know what it's like to not be observed by 15+ people every moment of every day.

    "We have control. We keep you safe. We are your hope. We are in control."

    December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. talleytone

    really it is the guns fault? Why is everyone having a moment of silence for a man who murdered the mother of his child leaving it with no parents.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    Silly Bob...

    December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. King Friday

    I agree that all Democrats and liberals should be prohibited from having guns of any kind. Crime would practically disappear in many areas.

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

      Then why is it that RED states have higher crime and more violent crime?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Don

    Guns kill people, and drugs kill people. We should pass a gun control law since our drug control laws have worked so well. Right?

    December 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kevin

    Oh No! A sportscaster gave his opinion about gun control and then all the people who love guns disagreed and say he doesn't have a right to express himself verbally. I'm not sure which amendment to pick.

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

      He should have kept his non-football OPINIONS to himself. If he had to express it, maybe he should have done it in the proper forum, such as an op-ed.

      Also, he cannot say that both of them would be alive if there was no gun! If he wanted to kill his girlfriend and himselfe, he would have done it, regardless of guns.

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

      You do know the freedom of speech is only in regards to the government.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • retro

      You do know that the free speech protections in the first amendment keep the GOVERNMENT from infringing on your right to free speech, yes? The first amendment doesn't guarantee you a forum, or mean other people can't criticize you for your comments, or even that a private employer (like a broadcast network) can't fire or penalize you for what you say. Similarly, a private landowner can say "no guns on my property" and if you don't comply you are trespassing but they are not violating your second amendment rights.The constitution is about limiting governmental power.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      that's right paul and derek, because an individual's freedom of speech is conditional AND contextual. You should only say what you want to people who agree with you when they want to hear it. I think that's how the United States of America started as a matter of fact.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff K

    GUN Control? Come on, look at Chicago they have gun control. Mike in a post mentioned Science and Facts: "Other countries don't have murder rates like the US because of a lack of our gun control" What a goof! Other countries if you include the continent of Africa have 3x the murder rate with guns, knives, and Automatic assault weapons. Go live there you goofball! We have a incredibly low murder rate compared to the rest of the World if you include the continent of Africa. All of these slanted survey's don't include Africa, why? People kill people, sick minded people who are on Steroids and pain killers. I remember Albert Bell (Baseball) player had a gun, he didn't kill anyone nor did Obama supporter Scottie Pippen? mmm? Garbage in Garbage out: Mental health rules should dictate who gets a gun nor liberal softened people who is seeing the world through "Rose colored Glasses". It's not and never will be. God Bless the families and I hope the child can do great things with her life!

    December 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. wootings

    Here's the part that's really sad about this...there are people in this country who are honestly stupid enough to believe that if handguns were outlawed, they'd go away.

    People actually believe that.

    Some of us are so wildly disconnected from reality that we can't see the obvious result...which would be law-abiding citizens becoming unarmed, and criminals (who, by definition, already don't care about the law) will keep their handguns and have a field day.

    Whether or not you like guns kind of isn't the point...you can't put the genie back in the bottle. There are untold millions of handguns in circulation, and if you disarm the "good" people, then all you've done is surrendered to the "bad" people.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Me

    The NFL was quick to fire Hank Jr for his personal opinion. Should the same not happen here? A personal opinion is a personal opinion,whether it's popular or not.

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