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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. Alex

    Right message, wrong venue to tell it in. Sports and Politics shouldn't mix.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Wrong Message, wrong place. Sarah McKinley saved herself and her three month old baby almost a year ago in Blanchard, OK using a shotgun from someone trying to break into her place to rob her only 4 days after her husband died of Cancer. She was and is a law abiding citizen! The problem with Gun Control laws is that they invariably take guns away from law abiding citizens like Sarah while leaving them in the hands of the criminals, who aren't concerned about the laws they have already decided to break. All those signs that tell people they are gun free zones do is tell the criminal that they have a free fire zone.

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

    He could have killed his girlfriend with anything else besides a gun. So I don't know why gun control is all of sudden the issue now. It's been the issue for the last 20-25 years and still nothing has been done about it. Obviously this guy had a lot of issues that we all don't know about them. All that we can do is judge on this guy, which is wrong. In all honesty, he was a coward for going out like that, but obviously needed help. Where was the help? I feel more sorry for the daughter because now both of her parents are gone. Do we want answers, some of us do, but some of us don't really care. People die everyday and commit suicide everyday. So why is this story more important because he played in the NFL? Its sad don't get me wrong to hear about it but in the end he's a coward for going out. I feel more bad for the daughter thats all I care about.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MAC

    I have guns for target practice and hunt, I have guns that were my dad's. grandfather's and great grandfather's, and I have guns to protect my family and property from all those thugs who were not taught by their mom or dad right from wrong. They deserve what I will do to them if my family is threatened!

    December 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Temperjoke

    You know, I'll agree that we don't necessarily need new gun control laws. The existing laws do need to be more universal throughout the US, and they need to be cleaned up to prevent loopholes from allowing people to get firearms who would not normally be able to acquire them.

    What we do need to look at is the "gun culture", meaning the way society and individuals view guns. Right now, many people have a romanticized view of guns, and a glorified idea of the power a gun gives. Until this changes, there will be accidents and tragedies involving the use of guns. If people were willing to accept that there are other answers besides carrying/using a gun, and I mean truly accept it, there would probably be a reduction in these tragedies.

    But knowing our society and the people that make up it, I expect nothing will change, and we'll see this sad situation repeated again in a few months.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Amy

    It's sickening that all everyone is talking about is a famous football player who took his own life. Never mind the young woman he MURDERED!!!!! Yes it's sad that he killed himself, it's worse that he killed her first! I believe in gun control but I also believe that people should be able to own them if they wish. I am alive today because I own a hand gun. Two years ago someone broke into my house. I was alone with my son and my husband was at work. Had I not had my hand gun I truly believe something horrible would have happened. Did I shoot the guy? No! Would I have shot him if he tried to hurt my son or myself? Yes, and I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. QuestionEverything

    The issue I have with the "guns don't kill people..." argument is that it doesn't even come close to scratching the surface of the issue at hand. Can we have an intelligent conversation around the psychology of a man with a gun? I'm a firm believer that Jason Whitlock is correct while stating " [guns] tempt us to escalate arguments...". Before you spout out the spoons don't make people fat argument, ask yourself, do you have a good understanding of the differences in the psychology between an unarmed and armed person? The stigmas surrounding mental illness must be a priority for us change before we can even begin to discuss prevention of these types of senseless acts.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave Reineke

    Ridiculous! Gun control is stupid enough, but for a news faster to rant about it takes the cake. If he didn't have a gun, he would have used a knife, screwdriver, who knows. That's why it's called the National Felon League.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lord Toronaga

    Even Microsoft ditched MSNBC. That has to be the craziest organization out there. Mathews Madcow Schultz Olberman

    December 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JP

    I think this was a perfectly appropriate time for a discussion involving the tradegy. However, the discussion should have been about how families struggling with domestic issues can get help. Bob Costas is a very intelligent man but I think they raced just to say something about the tragedy and didn't really take a step back to see what would be the most helpful. Gun control certainly is not the issue since most players are probably not too far removed from someone who can illegally acquire a gun for them.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jorgesedano

    well... Bob read someone else's writing... as such he has no opinion as usual...

    December 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    Using your position on national television, poor timing and judgement Costas. I don't think anyone is afraid to talk about the issues with gun control, it's about where, how, why and with who – prior to doing your subject homework first.
    I hope the network takes a serious look at your future with them.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul

    When Bob Costas gets rid of his ARMED bodyguards and insists that NBC fires all its ARMED guards, then I may take him seriously.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chefjman

    Are you kidding me!! Drugs are illegal do people get drugs? There is an age limit for alcohol. Do kids get alcohol? If someone wants a gun and wants do do harm they will get one. Especially a person who can pay whatever the price is!! Are we going to outlaw knives , slingshots, bow an arrows, crossbows? Where do we draw the line!

    December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tim

    If our civilization survives or falls because of a mechanical device, smart money is on the latter.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    Bob, stick to talking about football. We don't listen to Sean Penn's "genius" comments, and we really don't care about yours either. Do you have freedom of speech? Sure. But can you at least give us some warning so we can hit the mute button? Thanks.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
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