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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. Leeford

    Yeah, banning guns will make suicidal people not kill themselves.

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

    While we're at it, let's control forks and spoons.. that's *certainly* why there are so many obese Americans.

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

    I still like Bob Costas, but this was an entirely inappropriate time to do political hobby horsing. Saturday's events would have been no less tragic had Jovan Belcher decided to stab his girlfriend to death and then take his own life by hanging himself.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pdisme

    A Cleveland Brows groundskeeper hung himself this past weekend too; should we make laws against rope? He clearly figured out a way to kill himself without requiring a gun.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. buddget

    Bob Costas should live where I live. And the frist thing that will go through his mind is, "where can I get a gun"?

    December 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JL

    My deepest condolences to Belcher's family and girlfriend's family. This is a horrible tragedy. The reason for which, we might not ever know. One thing is for sure, however, it was not because of America's "gun culture." Costas should be ashamed for promoting such obvious propaganda in the wake of a terrible tragedy during a sporting event. Are we supposed to believe that if Belcher didn't own a gun, that cooler heads would have prevailed and the couple would have just worked it out with words? It takes time and a deliberate decision to load a gun, cock it, point and shoot. I read he shot her 9 times. This is nothing like saying something you regret in an argument as Whitlock and Costas want to make you believe.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tchrider

    He 'offended' me with his remark, therefore he needs to either resign or be fired.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gunless

    Guns don't kill people; they facilitate bad decisions that kill people. Guns are a point-and-click solution to an instant of personal crisis. Sure, Belcher could kill with his bare hands - but killing with a gun takes only a split-second of emotion or intoxication, not the actual resolve to kill. This is what Costas is trying to say: Fewer guns, fewer tragedies.

    How many murder-suicides have you heard about that did NOT involve a gun? Thought so.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chief

    His comment is so wrong and by the way guns didn't matter in Nicole and Rons death either. It was a knife. So i guess we should outlaw knives as well and limit who uses those as well.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Al

    So it's perfectly acceptable for someone that is supposed to be working to announce a sporting event, but now we have to be forced to accept his personal feeling about the second amendment right that we all have. I'm sure that CBS supports Bob Costas for that is the only reason that Bob is still employed there. Why should this have been talked about longer than 10 seconds, it has nothing to do with what is occurring between the end zone and the side lines. I for one vote to see Bob Costas fired, unless like I said he was voicing the true feelings of CBS.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charlie

    Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Also has one of the highest murder rates by guns in the nation. If all the guns in the US were confiscated the same gangs that import drugs would start importing guns for gangs and those who commit crimes. Criminals would no longer have to worry about being confronted by a gun owner when they invade a house to rape, pillage and plunder.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ShawnDH

    Bob Costas was 100% correct and I'm glad he spoke out. Does anybody really think there is no connection between our ridiculously loose gun laws and our astronomical gun crime rates? Please.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Shawn, Vermont has "ridiculously loose" gun laws and yet gun crime is basically non-existent" here. Illinois (i.e. Chicago) on the other hand, has the most restrictive laws on guns in the nation AND one of the worst gun crime rates (remember all those killings last summer?) So you're telling me MORE gun laws will help?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChicagoRealist

      Ummm... You mean the ridiculous gun control laws in cities/towns/states where violent crime is worse? You should probably do some research before you start posting your opinions. I live in Chicago were violent crime is worse than it has been in years... Our neighbor Indiana? Not so much...

      December 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      Actually that thinking is highly flawed in the face of historical facts. Did you know in the 1870's to 1890's period a higher percentage of people in what was known as the Wild West owned guns then the East Coast? Did you also know the Wild West had a smaller crime rate, including murder then the East Coast? Don't believe me research it. A smart person would examine mutliple published sources, but I am not going to sit here and list them when all you have to do is a simple internet search.

      A gun is nothing more than a tool, it can be used for good or evil. When someone wants to kill someone a lack of a gun will not stop them. He could have used a knife, axe, baseball bat, fire poker, sewing needles, hammer..... The list can go on and on. What ever drove him to kill had no bearing on whether or not he had a gun. Selecting the gun as the tool came after the decision was made to kill.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    Costas what an ass! Your opinions should be limited to football and you really kind of suck at that! It is unfortunate that this tragedy happened but there will be domestic violence as long as it is accepted by the abuseds' neighbors and without guns there will continue to be violence. Should we continue to take away legal weapons? How far do we go? Rid the earth of rocks? Limit your act to sports!

    December 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. carlos

    A blanket statement about outlawing guns because of the % that are used in killing is about as absurd as saying that we should outlaw blacks because % wise they commit more crimes and do more of the killings.

    Maybe roids had something to do with this. Maybe we should outlaw sports beacuse males in sports tend to be more aggressive.

    Get a clue Costas! OJ didn't need a gun...

    December 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ThisGuy

    Costas needs to be fired. Making a political pitch during halftime for football is wrong.

    And did it occur to anyone that if the guy wanted to kill the girl, but neither had a gun, he still would have been able to pull it off? He's bigger and stronger than her, obviously, he's a football player. The best case scenario would be for her to have had a gun and shot him in self defense.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
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