'One of everyone's favorite teammates'
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. gary

    I'm surprised at Costas' simplification of the real issue. Costas is a very bright guy and has many great prespectives, but the last line of his comments show he really doesn't get the gun control issue in my opinion.

    "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"

    Ok, probably correct, but the real issue is whether gun control laws would have prevented him from getting a gun in the first place. People that want guns, drugs etc. find a way to get them, either legally or illegally. To say that this wouldn't have happened if Belcher had not possessed a gun completed ignores that issue. Costas is making a false assumption that if gun control laws were stricter, Belcher would not have had a gun. I doubt very seriously that that would have been the case.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Conley

    Guns keep criminals a little more honest. No one like the thought of getting shot not even the criminal. Think of this. Lets just let the criminals and the government have guns......... Oh!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Not A Poly Anna

    Yes Bob, by all means, let's do away with all weapons in the world, not just guns, but first let's do away with all simple minded idiots who use their public pulpits in irresponsible ways.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    What about stricter vehicle control? Vehicular manslaughter and injuries from road rage has been on the rise for years so maybe we should restrict who can drive a car.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dr. Ann Conn

    The question posed is 'should Bob Costas have spoken out about Jovan Belcher's suicide?" Actually he did not speak about nightmare of the murder/suicide, but discussed gun control. This is a topic that deserves discussion whatever postion one holds. But, an opportunity to discuss the tragedy and devastating consequences of mental illness was lost. Mental illness and its lack of recognition and treatment underlies this devastating event.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2el8

      Well said!!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Naota

    500,000 villagers in Rwanda were murdered with machetes in a 3 month period.

    Another 300,000 were murdered with rifles. The villagers couldn't fight back – –

    none of them had a gun

    – – – because guns were BANNED in Rwanda.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ummyaa

    Violent crimes would just be more violent without guns, spin it whatever way you want. Its not the intrument, its the motive.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HenryMiller

    "If OJ Simpson did not have a handgun, Nicole and Ron would still be alive today." – Bob Costas

    Ridiculous! A 6'1", 212 pound, ex-football player wouldn't need a gun to kill people, and if either Nicole or Ron had had a gun, it would have more than offset OJ's size advantage.

    Maybe we should outlaw football players and exercise equipment that builds muscle mass. (That would seriously annoy my 6-foot, 170 pound, kid who benches just a bit shy of 300 pounds.)

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Benoit

      You're wrong. Without guns, there would never be a domestic dispute resulting in death. It simply has never happened ever in the history of America except with guns.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JT

    People who shoot people are not mentally ill. When someone becomes very angry, they are likely do many rash deeds. I do not own a gun and live in a gun state where very few shootings occur. But there is a problem with spouses, usually men, get angry over a failed marriage and start killing ex-wives, children, etc. It's terrible and if controlling handguns is the solution — which it may not be — then control handguns.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    I don't have a problem with him voicing his personal opinions. That's basically the perk of having a national forum such as that. I do, however, have a problem with his logic. When will people get it into their heads that laws don't stop criminals or someone with criminal intent from committing crimes with guns.

    For instance, when the congresswoman was shot in the head, the perpetrator had already committed 3 or 4 felonies before he even pulled the trigger. One more wouldnt have stopped him. Lets also look at the fact that there were several people in the crowd that had concealed weapons permits and were legally possessing a gun. Not one of them opened fire because they were behaving like the vast majority of permit holders behave. (Responsibly) Tell me how taking away those people's guns would have changed the outcome of the crime?

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

      So why bother having laws if it is going to happen anyways ? Not all people are the same, people have different logic called opinions like yours.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. clakjak

    NBC, you should let Rev. Al and Rachel Maddow do your football games.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. furianxo

    University student was killed by a knife last week, lets talk about knife control. No more sharp ones, you all get to use butter knives. Kleenex boxes have been known to kill people that are in head on collisions, maybe we should outlaw those too. Oh, those fish hooks can cause tetanus, yes, those are gone too. I stepped on a nail at a construction site when I was little, and nail guns are especially lethal, maybe we should get rid of those too. No more dart bars.... sorry dart fans in the US, and England, we are coming for your darts as well.

    Let me explain something to all of you idiots out there. If he didn't have a gun, he would have probably beat her to death. Anyone that wants to kill, will kill, regardless if you take away the rights of Americans. If someone wants to kill ALOT of people, they will do that too, regardless if they have access to a semi-automatic weapon... they will probably kill more. There are countless incidents, and larger kill ratios that didn't involve guns at all.

    The only issue we have with guns is one group wanting what they want, and the other wanting what they want. Its the way of America these days.... the demadonts and republicant and the rest of the country that wants to enforce their opinion.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • your superior

      I always lose interest and move on to other comments at "Idiots. Let me explain something to you."

      December 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ED

    THE GUN IS JUST A TOOL ,,,WE ARE THE WEAPONS ..

    December 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Average American

    Was the gun that he used even registered to him? Gun control laws are only effective for people who care about laws and consequences involved in breaking them. Most crimes with guns are committed with unregistered weapons by criminals who don't care about gun control or any other laws involving the use of guns. Look at the crime statistics for New York City as an example. What happened is a tragedy but more laws around gun control would not have prevented it from happening. A legally registered gun works the same as one bought on a street corner – the real issue is what drives a person to be so angry/frustrated/out of their mind that they thought shooting some one else and then them self was the solution to their problems. The level of anger and frustration that is so pervasive in our society which drives such behavior should be what people are upset about and try to find a solution for, not blaming a supposed lack of gun control laws for tragedies that more gun control laws would not have prevented. People young and old need to be more respectful and more tolerant of others. More selfless, less selfish. Violence is never the answer. Guns are not the problem – people are. If he had run her down with his car would someone have gone on a rant about "car control laws"? What would have been the discussion if he had beaten her to death? Focus your energy on the real issues here. That is the only way to prevent something like this from happening again.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Greg

    I love how everytime the left gets a chance to exploit a tragedy they get away with it! Guns don't kill people, people kill people. I think the question why did this happen. Instead the left uses every act of gun violence as an excuse to slowly but surely dismantle the constitution.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
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