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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. verne glassman

    A gun is a tool, a very dangerous tool, but still only a tool. As with other potentially dangerous tools it must be handled with care and thought; millions upon millions of Americans respectfully and carefully go about their lives, with their guns, safely and securely. It is a shame that the actions of one very, very disturbed individual is taken by a good sportscaster and enlarged to an absurd conclusion. He had a gun, he could have had a knife, a hammer, his fist, a weight or a rock; he had a gun. The issue isn't that he used a gun, the issue is that no one close to him understood his demons and attempted an intervention to provide help. Mr. Costas, shame on you for using this tragedy as a soap box.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Paul in NorCal

    I vote to ban football to prevent concussions and other injuries & make Costas get a real job, preferably off the air where only his co-workers need to blow off his stupid opinions – like the rest of the world...

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

    Mr. Belcher's inability to control himself has nothing to do with the daily threats that I and others face living in high-crime metropolitan areas. I'm not giving up my gun to satisfy your peace of mind any more than I'd give up my car because some people are drunk drivers. I need my car, and where I live, I need a gun too.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kevin

    So I suppose if Susan Smith did not have a car her boys would be alive today? I suppose if Timothy McVeigh did not have fertilizer dozens of Oklahoma City citizens would be alive today? I suppose if O.J. did not have a knife Nicole would be alive today? This is just liberal lunacy.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tet1953

    Gun control is not the answer to problems like this one. It was a handgun, and everyone should have the right to a handgun. Now, I could go along with bans on high-capacity assault rifles, but that's a different argument.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Suburban Survivor

    I have plenty of respect for Mr. Costas, but I think he is more than a little myopic when he chooses to focus on the gun control facet of this particular story instead of the ever-expanding culture of domestic abuse and violence in general. By emphasizing the tool used in this particular event, he is basically glossing over the attitude of a person who thinks it's acceptable to kill his girlfriend over what I'm sure was an insignificant (by comparison) dispute. We shouldn't be making excuses for this type of behavior or for the people who engage in it. I grew up with guns in my home and at no time was my life put into jeopardy, because my father and I both handled them in a safe and responsible fashion. I fully intend to raise my son the same way.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony

    I guess it would of been better for Bob if he had beat her to death instead.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John R Blair Jr

    Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775; total gun deaths around 30,000.
    And/Or
    Fatal Car Crashes by Year, Fatal Crashes. 2010, 32,885; around 31% of that are by drunk drivers or roughly the same as gun murders!

    My question is this; IF the issue is truly just out and out the DEATH toll then why is the sensational righteous indignation disportionately reserved for gun death; why is that death so much more horrific than death in a motor vehicle? Or why does GUN death seem to garner so much more attention than any other form of death rate in America? Too many auto sponsors on Sunday nigh football to rock the boat, or too much nation wide dependance on the auto, or is it a little more sinister; such as the basic fear of SOME (few/majority?) of that KIND of FREEDOM being in the hands of WE the PEOPLE?

    Yes; people are JUST people and our TOOLS will be misused and abused to the point of death at times; fortunately the benefits typically out weigh the determents of their use. This is THE simple understanding held by the framers of THIS nation’s Constitution, and why GUNS are the tools selected as the prime example of why our right to use tools should not be infringed although their misuse could and will harm some.

    So tell me (BoB); if you are truly willing to rid the world of the potential of VIOLENT DEATH and you are successful at ending GUN death by whatever means, then what will be the next tool you will be willing to part with????

    Semper Fi
    John R Blair Jr

    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.
    Thank you for voting!
    Yes, I'm glad someone finally said something. 31.47% (1,935 votes)
    No, guns aren't the issue. 68.53% (4,213 votes)
    Total Votes: 6,148

    Was it the right time, place for a gun control debate?
    No, I tuned in to watch football, not debate the politics of gun control. 73.67% (3,967 votes)
    Yes, this is a conversation that needs to be had wherever it can take place. 26.33% (1,418 votes)
    Total Votes: 5,385

    December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ScottIndependent

    The question of the 2nd amendment is simply where do we draw the line on what should be considered "arms". Our forefathers wanted an armed population so that we could defend ourselves against tyranny and protect our loved ones and our property. Certainly everyone would argue that a butter knife should be legal for individual possession and that a nuclear warhead should be illegal, but where exactly does the line in between lie. Personally, I think automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be legal... hand guns, harder to say. ...and there are so many that are already readily available on the streets.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. crazy

    I do blame guns. I also blame untreated concussions and steroids.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rocket

    A better commentary would have been why do so many NFL players have problems with drugs, alchol, domestic abuse, concussion and so on.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ynot5903

    The last K.C. Chiefs player to die a violent death was the great Derrick Thomas, he died from complications suffered after a car wreck. I do not recall a halftime speech about car control!!!! More people die in car accidents each year than to gun violence.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jtc550

    I'm overweight and am at this very moment looking up the manufacturer's contact information for my silverware set. I am filing a grievance with them because there is absolutley no way I would possibly be able to over eat without the wreckless negligence of these spoon, knife and fork manufacturers.

    Come on people. The kid in Wyoming killed his father's girlfriend with a knife, his father with a bow and arrow and then stabbed himself. If an individual sets their mind to doing, they have the capacity to do so guns or no guns.

    Maybe I could get Bugs Bunny to make a statement for stricter silverware controls. He only eats carrots with his paws, therefore is obviously holds the ability to take an educated stance on how silverware has facilitated my weight problems.

    Guns are not the problem.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brian P

    We should ban guns... I mean people never killed each other before guns were invented.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lmc2

    Most gun owners act responsibly. A few who possess guns use them for power and selfish or malicious reasons. My family and my ancestors have had guns in the house since before the American Revolution and have never wounded or killed another person except in war. When a person buys a car or an alcoholic drink, one cannot test to see if that person will drive or drink responsibly, so it is with guns. It is being held accountable for the behavior that is important.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • i agree

      just like the millions of gun owners skapegoated for the problems of a few, millions of drug users are scapegoated for the problems of a few. why isnt crack, heroine and PCP legal? First of all, drugs dont kill people, people kill themselves. Secondly, what if these drug users turned to alcohol? alcohol is a toxin with a potential to cause overdose. Thirdly in the constitution provides for life, liberty, and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, whose to say happiness isnt found at the end of a needle? Fourthly these are the same arguing points, re-worded to fit a recreational drug user point of view, are they not as valid or ridiculous as the same ones the NRA tries to use?

      December 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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