'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. 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

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

    You must be a forensic pathologist or a criminal profiler to be able to look at a picture and assess that he had to be on some type of performance enhancing drug. That is a pretty awesome talent and we are blessed to have you on this blog with us. Thank you.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chris Benoit

    "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today"

    So would Nancy Sullivan and Daniel Benoit I'm sure. Oh wait...

    December 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Eric

    If it wasn't for knives, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman would still be alive today.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. randy

    Its a demographic problem not a gun problem.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ChristopherM

    It seems to me that there is a lot more outrage over Bob Costa's comments than the fact that we've lost yet another woman to domestic violence.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Canopy

      Scary isn't it.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • pierce

      Agreed. And will the idiot teammates and fans get a grip and grieve, too, over the woman and her fatherless/motherless child instead of a goofy idiot who gunned down another human being?.
      Call it like it is: a nutjob murdered an innocent young woman and the world is better off without him.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ron

    What is overlooked in all of this is domestic violence as the root cause and the multitude of way's that it is used to endanger one's safety. The conversation should start there and not with gun control but with self control in domestic issues. The 2nd amendment will not change so that is a complete waste of time. We can change the culture of domestic violence through education and a refusal to except it as a approved behavior

    December 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • RetMarine

      @pierce and Ron,
      Well said, both of you; lets refocus on the real issues here...an unstable person murdered an innocent woman and left a child without a mother and father and presummably a lot of therapy needed. Great focal point.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jim S

    Whether you believe that the abscense of a gun would guarantee that those two people would be alive today is not an appropriate issue on Sunday Night Football. SNF is not Bob Costas' forum for a gun control debate. I found his comments to be personally insulting and offensive. Instulting because I didn't need Costas to lecture me on gun control. Offensive because he used a public forum for his personal views and because he thinks that personal problems and needless violence can be cured by the lack of guns.

    I find his views narrow minded, unrealistic and totally inappropriate. If anything, it was a mental health issue not a gun control issue.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Ryan

    Let's be reasonable here. Was this a stupid thing for Costas to say and a stupid time/place for him to say it?...Yes. Should he be fired for saying it... No.

    The most disturbing aspect about this article and the gun control debate as a whole is that many people, like Costas, still support more gun control. Do the research... there has not been a single gun control law passed that has reduced gun related crimes. That's right folks. Gun control doesn't work. The assualt weapons ban, Brady Bill, ban on full auto weapons, ban on extended capacity magazines.... none of them have reduced crime. The main reason these gun control measures fail is that criminals tend to ignore gun control laws. The laws only affect law abiding responsible gun owners, who usually don't commit crimes. Whether you are a liberal or conservative, gun owner or not, it is something they we should all agree on.

    Still not convinced? Google "gun control" and read the data or watch Penn and Teller's BS episode on Gun Control.... one of my favorites. If you don't like guns then don't get one. But don't rant and rave about how much better the country would be if we had more gun control, because you don't know how wrong you are.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fernandez

      How do people committing crimes acquire guns? Do you not think something should be done about it? I am in favor of whatever kind of 'gun-control' that is. I for one do not want every thug on the streets being armed just waiting for a reason to use it. These guns ARE the problem, it cannot be denied by an intelligent person. I think the NRA should do more to help weed out the bad from the good rather than washing their hands of the problem.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • wittgensteiner83

      You are right. Not a single one of those laws worked. Why? They did not make any of those firearms, that already were in the US illegal. They merely said that new ones were illegal. So 10s of thousands were still legal. Guns, millions of clips and all the ammo that was needed. These laws are not gun control. They are gun regulation, and the thought that they are temporary makes many western countries laugh. Yes, the same countries that have few crimes involving firearms, I guess against your own statement that no gun control has affected crime, wonder how the US has such freedom and peace but wallows in such death. My view is that Americans are too immature for gun rights. Just like an 8 year old does not fully understand what a gun is then Americans have too many guns and not enough supervision to be truly responsible. Gun control does not mean taking them away! It means regulating those that are there. We in Germany can own guns, I liked the NRA's description of our gun rights (totally false), but we are mature enough to not think that we must fear all of our neighbors and that we must walk down the street with a gun to feel like a man. To be honest if you did that in my dorf you would be both laughed at and asked to leave, QUICKLY!!!!! German farmers have many guns but they are not the type to go showing it off. LOL

      December 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. brown

    A discussion about gun control is needed as well as one for the condition of the mind that shooting someone is the end all to a disagreement whether at home or the community. A shooting is never the end all but the beginning to something worst.
    On the other hand answer this...If you're mad enough to shoot me would you do so knowing that I could/will shoot back?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Canopy

    I think she said it best, "Let's focus on mental health and not just gun control."

    December 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Roger

    I have been tiring of Costas for some time, but this was way over the top. Bob – we are not nearly impressed with you as you are with yourself. We do not need to hear your ramblings. This was football.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. BMc6

    It is just silly for people to think that there's not too many guns on the streets in this country. If Mr. Belcher didn't have a gun in his possession that day, killing his gfirlfriend and certainly himself would have taken much more time and effort. Maybe the extra time and effort it takes to kill someone using something other than a gun would have made the difference between a murder-suicide or possibly an assault charge.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Andrew

    Let's stop blaming the inanimate object and start looking to fix the mentality of today's generation that doesn't value life. Whether it is drugs, emotions or mental stability, then we need to start there. I am tired of having the finger pointed at me because I own guns and being told I am wrong for this happening and I should give up my hobbies or rights. I don't get picked on because my neighbor gets drunk and crashes his car into another one killing the occupants. Why is it that everytime someone does a stupid act with a gun, everyone points the finger and says, "you gun lovers are to blame?" Face it, Costas shouldn't have said anything, wrong venue and the network should have ensured it did not occur.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BMc6

      This inanimate object can and does kill. I agree that it takes a person to pull the trigger but with one simple pull, a life can end. You can't say that about any other inanimate object on earth.
      I don't necessarily agree that this is due to the mentality of people today. People have been committing murder for centuries. Murder is nothing new. What has changed is the number of guns available on the streets and how simple it is to obtain one.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Canopy

    The back and forth in this article is indicative of our ever slowing ability to communicate without inciting insults or injury. And we wonder why these things happen....

    December 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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