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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. TN

    Silence on the issue is also a "comment" and too often silence wins and our young kids and families lose.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Williams, PHD.

    Fire him.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. open400

    All of our Constitutional Rights have laws attached to them to ensure the right in used in a responsible fashion. I have the right to vote, but not 10 times in the same election. I have the right to freedom of speech, but I cannot yell fire in a crowded stadium if there was no fire. I have the right too freedom of press, but I cannot call someone in the newspaper a pedophile if there is nothing to substantiate the charge. The freedom to bear arms was given largely because we had no standing army at the time and firearms on the frontier were needed for food and protection. At the time of the Constitution, no one ever envisioned the mass production of firearms and all of its ramifications. This gun culture we have developed inhibits personal liberty, not enhances it.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Neal

    I hope they fire him immediately.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Doug

    What other purpose does a gun have than to kill something? A pillow, a knife, a car, a hammer, etc all have other functions in daily life. A gun does not.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. roxbee

    Mexico has pretty strict gun control and all it does is prevent the good-guys from defending themselves. We need to remember that it doesn't take a gun to murder somebody but sometimes it takes a gun to defend yourself. OJ murdered two people with a knife. Clearly the cause of the murder/suicide was Jovan Belcher.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Steve

    Guns don't kill people!! If so, then my keyboard misspelled this "worr" and spoons made Rosie Odonell fat!!! Get the point Mr. Costas!!! Here's you a big hint: Stricter gun laws only hurt "law biding citizens", last time I checked, criminals don't follow the law!!!! Stop whinning and crying due to you being more woman than a man...

    December 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sally

    I liked Bob's early comments, about sports and perspective. But as soon as he mentioned agreeing with Whitlock, I knew it was going to go down and fast. Whitlock is an idiot, and if Bob lowers himself to agree with Whitlock that is a sad state of affairs. As for his agreement about gun control, this wasn't the time or place for it. Bob can have his opinion, just like I can have mine, but Sunday night half time wasn't the time or place to air it. Should he be fired? No, but the bosses should discuss with the time and place to mention his beliefs – and Sunday night football isn't it.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jim in Charlotte

    The biggest reason everyone always states that we have guns is to protect ourselves and our families. What exactly are we protecting ourselves from? 9 out 10 times it would be considered someone else with a gun. Seems like the dog chasing it's tail

    December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Jim, guns are the best self protection you can have. Weather it's from another gun, a knife, or someone's hands. If I am gone traveling, and a 200 lb man breaks into my home or 2, or 3 of them, I will hope my wife has something like a gun close to her to give her a fighting change against that which her body can't fight against herself. Guns can save lives when properly used, trained with and educated about.

      If you want to "pass a law" to remove guns, then all the good law abiding citizens will have to walk their guns in to have them confiscated. Do you think the bad guys are going to do that? No.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      Joe, the odds of you or your wife accidentally shooting yourselves is greater than than the odds of your concern of "2 or 3 200 lb. black men" breaking into your house while you're away

      December 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. robertandrews2

    This is not a gun control issue this is a mental health issue. The people that commit these acts are sick, not driven by the use of the weapon but what is going on inside of their brains. If head had a knife he could have killed her too, or with his car, and so on and so forth.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Luis

    Its not guns that kill people, its dumb people that kill people. He could have used something as simple as a knife to do the same thing. Its funny how so few can screw up something for so many. The issue is not gun control, its people needing to change themselves.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • David Ellis

      Guns don't kill people. Stupid or mentally unbalanced people kill people. The problem is they are far more able to accomplish this with a gun, and there are far more stupid than not.
      Show me the statistics about a real thwarted crime vs a someone shot by a friend, family member or in a random confrontation that escalated too far and too fast because someone had a gun.

      The stats just don't support gun ownership.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. scooter

    It is not the availability of handguns. Its our nations idea that guns solve problems. Canada has the same percentage of gun ownership and a microscopic handgun violence rate. Its the type of people not the guns. The best way to avoid being the the victim of gun violence, and math doesn't lie or care how you vote, is do not be a criminal, associate with them, or own a gun. Most murder victims are criminals or associates of them. And the vast majority of murders are committed by people who know and are associated with their victim or are related to them.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RW0rld

    There is more chance of them discovering that the NFL has not done enough to educate our young 20 something pro sports idols on how to deal with negative fan criticism than with guns. The Chiefs have been under a high level of critism for their play and season this year. I can imagine that a public figure like pro sports figures would not have trouble not only finding a gun but also a carry permit if desired regardless of the gun control laws. Taking advantage though of one's public position to launch or express a personal opinion is always ill advised, in this context he should have kept his comments to the reason he was there and left personal opinions to his talk show appearances unless it was NBC's position as others have insinuated.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Adam

    Forks don't make people fat.

    Knives don't leap off the table and try to stab people.

    Cars don't drunk drive themselves and kill people.

    Guns don't maliciously lie in wait plotting to kill people.

    They are TOOLS. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Belcher was a 230 pound LINEBACKER. If he wanted to kill his girlfriend, he could have snapped her neck with ease, grabbed a baseball bat, picked up a knife, hit her with his car or picked up ANY blunt object near him.

    Costas' logic is tenuous at best, and his blatant politicization of a tragedy before the bodies are even cold is simply disgusting.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dogbreath

      (like)

      December 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChicagoRealist

      Double like...

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

      That's ridiculous. Obviously there is a direct connection between our loose gun laws and gun crime. People with guns are obviously far more likely to shoot and kill somebody and are also far more likely to get shot themselves.

      Stop pretending like guns aren't dangerous weapons of violence and murder that too many psychos can too easily get a hold of...legally.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      THINK. Its also about ease of use.

      You don't see too many people dieing from somebody else pointing their finger and saying "BANG". The guns... help. (Thanks Eddie Izzard).

      Now, by your logic, since nukes don't blow up entire cities on their own, everybody should be allowed to build, own, and carry their own personal nukes. Yes that is an extreme example, but it shows the outer range of REASONABLE LIMITS.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • May19-1986

      Costas is a Soros stooge; merely jockeying to get a pay raise from his liberal master!

      December 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      what defines a TOOL is it's primary function and of those listed, a gun is the only one which is designed to kill people.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Reef

    If people would stop being alive, they couldn't be killed. Let's address the real issue here.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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