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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. ryan

    In a situation so tragic, it's humorous to me that Americans are "up in arms" about using a public medium to question their right to possess a handgun. The issue of domestic violence is far more important than a football game or debating the right to bear arms. Guns were invented to kill and these weapons are far too easy for anyone to own.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Absolutely. You have to be 18 to own a rifle or a shotgun. You have to be 21 to own a pistol. You can't be a criminal. You have to go through a background check. You can't have a mental illness. You can't be a habitual drug user. As opposed to a car, where any 16 year old pothead can T-bone you because he was busy texting. Or a knife than any 3 year old could buy.

      Doing bad things with a car and cell phone is illegal. Doing bad things with a gun is illegal. People still do bad things from time to time with all of the above. The answer is not outlawing cars,cellphones, or guns.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • harriet

      James, I think you should revisit what the actual restrictions on guns are. Most of what you say is not universally required if at all as it is state by state. Saying "that you cannot have mental illness" is just silly since that is not what they laws, that do exist say, while it may be what they are trying to achieve. All you have to do is look back to VA Tech to know that.

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

    Bob Costas is not wrong for having an opinion here and I think he can say what he wants to, but that was not the right thing to say as it was not accurate at all and not hte right place to open that can of worms. Firearms do not kill people, people kill and will do so with drugs, cars, bombs, arrows, rocks, sticks and knives. The focus is needed on the criminals and putting them away or down. We are too easy on criminals inthe United States and liberal lawyers, judges and jurys are the cause. Why should a child molester or rapist ever be free???? Oh because a liberal do gooder thinks they have fixed them. In nature the misfits are eaten at birth.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Angela

    These horrific deaths are so recent – those close the deceased are still in a state of shock and have only begun to mourn. Espousing political views and assigning blame at this time could not be more inappropriate. Costas was obviously exploiting this tragedy to draw attention to himself in attempt to further his own career. Disgusting.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jay

    You don't need a gun to committ murder or suicide. Very stupid logic by Whitlock. There is no way of knowing what would have happened if a gun wasn't involved. Also, it takes a finger to pull the trigger.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. nflfan

    Those comments by bob should of never been a topic. It remindes me of a missfire in a superbowl half time show.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Diane

    I think gun control is not the answer. I think Bob Costas had a reaction to the situation that was normal but not thought out. We let criminals back on the street sometimes because our laws protecting their rights are in our constitution and even though we know they go on many times to repeat criminal acts we uphold those rights because they are constitutional-so is the right to have guns-sometimes our rights as Americans get abused but those that use guns wrongly should not prevent those who wish to have guns from having them.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sayheybrian

    Bob is exactly right. No one was ever killed before guns were invented. What causes death is evil and evil will find a way.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • nhismage

      sayheybrian, do you realize that people were killing other people BEFORE guns were invented AND that you contradicted yourself in your own post? If "evil will find a way", then that "way" may not necessarily be a gun. It could be a knife, a bat, a rope or by using ones bare hands! Yes, EVIL will find a way and that way may not be a gun.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      @nhismage – It is called sarcasm...jeeze people need to take a step back somtimes.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chris in boston

    Bob Costa did the right thing, naming the true culprit

    December 3, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      The true culprit is Bob Costas.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Ya....it was Javon!

      December 3, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • truth1063

      lol year right poor jovan was just at the wrong place at the wrong time

      December 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zabilde

      The same week as this tragedy happened, a privately owned firearm in the hands of a citizen, stopped the brutal beating of an off duty Sheriff's deputy and his girlfriend by her former boyfriend in St. George UT. The deputy and the girl were at home watching TV when the perp kicked in the door and proceeded to beat first the deputy, then the lady with a bat. A neighbor heard her screams came in with his privately owned and legally carried weapon and stopped the crime, without having to fire a shot. When faced with a firearm the perp stopped, dropped his bat and was held at gun point until police could respond. Guns are neither good nor evil. Costas is an idiot as is Chris in Boston.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eric Spoelstra

    If you Idiots read and watched the news, you would see how many people are killed every day by guns in this country. Just calculating the deaths this weekend from guns, I counted 65 from Washington to Maine including Jevon and his GF. What Costas meant was, he is not against Guns, he said more and more deaths are occurring because of things like stupid arguments between husband and wife which should not be solved by Guns. Im sure he agrees with counseling people like Jevon, rather than letting him have a Gun. I don't disagree with Costas, The people who disagree with Gun Control are the same people who do stupid things. Trust me I have seen people who were anti-Gun Control and next day committed murders

    December 3, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lance Brown

      How many of those deaths were in States with strict gun control laws? You know; the places where the criminals are the only ones carrying. How many were suicide or accidental? If you're going to use those numbers, you should be able to substantiate your data. Your numbers do not tell the story.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Then why don't you explain what is "gun control"?

      December 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • CrazyTextingDriver

      more kids have OD'd this weekend from xanax and vicotin but they were junkie kids and killed themselves in there bed rooms or partying too hard at the crack head heroin addicts house in the hood. Its ok live in delusion la la ville. How many people do you know have died to a gun blast to a head while just walking down the street one day? How many people do you know have OD'd in your life time? Get a grip about what the true problems of society are before you go try making a case for how guns jump off the shelf, load themselves and pull the trigger.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan Rhoden

      You have seen?!?!? Really?

      NO you haven't and your argument is ridiculous.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryansco

      65 out of 300,000,000 people....what is that percentage? In the reality of things, that is small number and not that big of an issue as people like you suggest. It is sad when people die and things happen such as this, but people will find away to talk someone if they truly want to.... gun or no gun.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      So, in your mind, what is "gun control"? What laws will stop all gun crime? What law will all the gang bangers obey? What law will all the drug dealers all obey? The fact that Javon had a gun has NOTHING to do with the vast majority of gun crime. There are over 3 MILLION guns sold every month in this country. I would suspect that, if the anti-gun wimps had a valid point, gun crime would be increasing at uncontrollable rates in areas where gun laws are lax. NOT SO! Chicago, which has some of the most restrictive gun control laws has one of the highest homicide rates in this country!

      December 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      FBI's crime statistics for 2010 – firearms murders 8,775
      Deaths due to medical malpractice – 225,000!!!!

      All kidding aside. A small percentage of unnecessary gun deaths is the price we pay as a nation for the unique freedom we as US citizens enjoy. These rights were bestowed upon us by our founding fathers to help protect against abuse of government. Before anyone argues about the effectiveness of an armed population against the government, note that every dictator in the past century (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pot, etc...) all felt it necessary to disarm their populations before seizing control. History tells us of the atrocities they were then able to inflict. On another note, the vast majority of these 8000+ homicides in 2010 took place in 3 locations (LA, NYC, Chicago). We have a crime/gang problem. Not a gun problem.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth1063

      surrrrrree you have...

      December 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Nearly 195,000 deaths are caused yearly on the average by medical errors.

      31,000 deaths were caused by guns. Including accident, murder and suicide in 2011

      There are around 900,000 thousand doctors in the U.S.

      The number of gun owners and households with guns range between 39% and 50% of US households having at least one gun(that's about 43-55 million households). The estimates for the number of privately owned guns range from 190 million to 300 million. Removed those that skew the stats for their own purposes the best estimates are about 45% or 52 million of American households owning 260 million guns).

      You do the math.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. geo larson

    Lets look at what caused the rage in the first place. Continued use of steroids to pump up muscle mass is common with professional athletes. Such use does alter a persons personality and that may be the case here.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Pam Burks

    If we want to discuss violence let's talk about football. How many players or former players commited suicide becuause of brain damage. Football and sports in general has become Gods to some people. Did a gun kill OJ's wife? If this guy's girlfriend had a gun she might still be allive. We don't have guns to kill we have guns to protect our families.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Name*Tombo Moore

    Our founding fathers made it a constiturional right to bear arms. Times have changed over the 200 years since the origination of our constitution. Fact is, tragedies are gonna happen and if we change the laws concerning gun control then we create a totally new problem.The black market would boom and so would more tragic incidents lime the one in Kansas City. here is the deal. If Belcher was not a football player in the NFL Costas would not even mentioned the issue. Bad things happen every day and rhere is not a thing we can do about it.Mr. Costas was out of line and should be reprimanded for using his position to express his political views.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jean Sartre

      Mr. Costas called it like he saw it; he is not threatening to take away your almighty guns...

      I think he may be suggesting that if you have a gun handy, you are more likely than not, in the heat of anger, to use it to resolve an issue; sorry, but that is a reality...

      December 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mastodon

    Like it has been said here, guns are not the issue. If we are talking gun control we should also talk about knives, cars tools and hundreds of other objects that can be used to harm people that can be purchased at the hardware store or target. It takes a person to pull the trigger a gun laying on a table by itself does not just jump up walk over to someone and shoot, what needs to be looked at is the mental state of our people and offering help rather than blame an object.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Texas Gun Owner

    To draw the comparison of guns to cars is insulting and belittling to those who have suffered from gun related tragedies. I am a gun owner. However, I am very glad that I do not always have a gun readily available. Very few objects allow for instantaneous, emotional reaction with such massive, irreversible, consequences. Gun owners need to own up to the unique damage that guns do to lives and either decide that they can live with that for their right to own a gun or decide that something needs to be done. I do not know the answer to the gun control issue. But I do know that we (gun owners) need to be part of the conversation instead of disenfranchising victims with the tired cliche: Guns don't kill people.... I like my guns. I like being a gun owner and do not want that taken away. But at the same time I do not like that gun owners ridicule those who do not own guns. First let's show some respect for those fallen by gun violence. That can start by condeming the decision to play a football game in the aftermath of such a tragedy. It was time for reflection. A time to truly put things into perspective instead of just mouthing the words. My heart goes out to parents who lost their adult children and to a baby who has become instantly orphaned and now has to live the rest of her life with the fact of an extraordinarily tragic ending to her parent's lives.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      Wholeheartedly disagree, perhaps YOU should give up your guns.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • SimJim

      I don't own guns. I don't want a gun. Yet I have no desire to tell other people what they can and can't do, especially when this is a constitutionally protected right. I do know that when, and if, trouble comes down, I will quickly seek out the friends and family who do possess firearms. If I am ever accosted by a criminal wielding a gun, I pray a gun owner will be close by. The notion that guns are the problem is delusional and dangerous. It allows gun control freaks to ignore the real issues.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Texas Gun Owner

      John you "wholeheartedly" disagree!? You disagree that gun owners should enter the gun control debate respectfully? I am not saying we have to agree. But I am saying we have to engage the other side in an honest discussion devoid of trite sayings. If the other side does not want to have a grown up discussion, that is their loss. But we need to be respectful and mature in our dealings on this issue. The non gun owning public is watching. Many of them will make a decision on this issue based on how the sides handle it. Venom, and label filled knee jerk reactions is not how we should debate this issue. Nor is it how we gain respect. Suggesting that someone should give up their guns because they recognize, and are troubled by, gun violence is just the type of reaction that marginalizes (y)our argument. Don't be a marginalized gun owner.

      Or perhaps you disagree that this was a tragedy. Perhaps it is not a tragedy for a man to murder his girlfriend and then in his grief, or his regret, he runs, not to law enforcement or a loved one, but to his employer and kills himself. I think that is a tragedy. I hope we don't disagree on that issue. It was a tragedy that was easier to accomplish because of a gun. Sure, he could have done it with any number of other objects but the reality is that a gun allows massive violence at a comfortable distance.

      Or maybe you disagree that I believe the football game should not have been played. I can respect that we disagree on that issue. But to say I should give up a right because we disagree on that issue seems silly at best.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus55901

      I wholeheartedly agree. Well said.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Butch

      Guns, knives, rope, bowling balls, poison arrows, karate or nasty words don't kill people. People, wild animals and natural disasters kill people. But, you should always wait until the bodies are cold, the football game is over and you know some facts before you shoot off your mouth.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    I can respect most opinions on both sides of the debate, and I can see the logic used by both sides. What I cannot respect is an opinion that the current status quo of innocent people being killed by guns is acceptable in order to preserve "liberty". Don't stand there and say nothing can be done. There is always a solution.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baby Doc

      They had the solution back in 1878.

      "To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
      If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns,
      the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege."
      [Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, at 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52, at 54 (1878)]

      December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      They had the solution in 1868:

      "To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
      If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns,
      the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege."
      [Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, at 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52, at 54 (1878)]

      December 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
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