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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. PP

    ‘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.’

    This is a poorly thoughtout, simple minded view on guns. Each year 1000s of sexual assaults, home invasions, and murders are prevented because someone drew a weapon on an assailant or shot him. These events do not necessarily make the news, and our society does not count them or keep statistics. However,someone who wishes to do some research can find thousands of anecdotes. If we start banning guns every time there is news such as this, we might as well ban cars when the news reports a crash (even if millions of commuters travelled safely on that day)

    December 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bigfoot

    When ARE you going to have this conversation? At an NRA meeting?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jim

    Fire Costas

    If we wants to play in politics he can run like everyone else .

    December 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sanity

    The US homicide rate is lower now than it was in 1960. Costas needs to join the 21st century.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • brian

      12,000 homicides,17,000 suicides with guns in the US in 2007 – yeah, that's acceptable. No need to change anything there. Good job. What's the next thing America can solve?

      December 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rdbeard

    The mantra quoted by gun advocates is guns do no harm. It is the people that use them that causes the harm. The same case can be said about all weapons, including WMD. So my question to gun advocates is this. Would you feel comfortable if everyone you know owns a WMD? Like a song says, "I want a warhead of my own".

    December 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • truth1063

      Rush and Hank Williams were fired for having political opinions – why not Costas???????????????

      December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanity

      If everyone else has a WMD, then of course I want one, too. Pretty silly question.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I would not be comfortable with that. I own several knives. I also own other items that could be used as a deadly weapon. Belcher could have used his bare hands to do what he did. I'm not comfortable with everyone owning WMD's, but I would be willing to guess that you are not comfortable with taking away people's right to possess a knife, or a baseball bat, or any other object that could inflict bodily harm and/or death.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Faxon

    I have a Husqvarna chainsaw. How about that, Bob? Want to ban that, too? Exdigitate. (look it up)

    December 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. truth1063

    It was the gun that killed them. Had nothing to do with Jovan Belcher. I'm sure this guy was a loose canon his entire football career, but glossed over because he was good at football. I'm glad Costas, a man who makes his living promoting a sport in which men destroy their bodies and minds, has an opinion on the matter. I could give two schitz what his opinion is however. I'm sure being a midget had nothing to do with him formulating his opinions as a nice little jewish boy growing up in queens...

    December 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Actually, I'm pretty sure it was the bullet that killed them. The gun was just the unwilling enabler.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ace Phoenix

    I found the personal comments by Bob Costas during halftime of the Cowboys-Eagles game regarding gun control extremely offensive and inappropriate. It's disgusting enough that the NFL allows TSA pat downs at games. Costa's knowledge of sports doesn't extend to any degree of intelligence on the 2nd Amendment. The larger culprit and topic of discussion should have been all the psychotropic drugs these players on on, as well as concussions. He was way out of line and should be fine. I'm now boycotting watching NBC, and anything to do with Bob Costas. He needs to apologize to all the law-abiding gun owners of America. If not, fire him!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dogbreath

    "Handguns do not enhance our safety" Then why do the police carry them?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jared

    Costas has the freedom of speach, but not during a foorball game. But now I have the freedom of speach by saying that guns are not the problem. If there were no guns people would just use knives, baseball bats, or just plainly beat a person to death. A gun protects me from someone trying that on me or my family. Pot and other drugs are illegal and look how well the government is doing on controllong them. Build more prisons an execute more murderers and we will see a decline in gun violence.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. pintoandangus

    Gfy costas- take away the legally owned guns, and only criminals will have them...I've owned hand guns for many years, I carry one daily, yet I've only ever fired it at a shooting range, but it is there should the need arise-2nd amendment rights

    December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. CommonSensed

    Not surprising. Costas is a rube.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. truth1063

    Rush and Hank Williams were fired for having political opinions – why not Costas???????????????

    December 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Because, according to his network, he doesn't have the "wrong" opinion... :\

      December 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Belle1231

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

    OJ used a knife, and a damned sharp one at that. Nicole was almost decapitated and Ron was carved up until he resembled Swiss cheese. Get your facts straight.

    People kill people. Guns are merely a tool – like knives.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mike

    Poisoning Deaths per year: 41,592

    Motor Vehicle Deaths per year: 34,489

    Firearm Deaths per year: 31,347

    When you've given up your household cleaners and your car, THEN we can talk about what to do with my gun.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jonathan

      that's not an apples-to-apples comparison; a handgun's ONLY purpose is to kill another human being

      December 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That's not true. Many people shoot hanguns for sport. Far more, in fact, than have used them to kill a human being. It's true that most of those who use them for sport also own them as a contengency against those who would seek to do them harm, but the percentage that have had to actually use their handguns in such a capacity is very, very small.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Try pulling a fighting 100 pound halibut over the edge of a boat after you catch it. Handguns are great for killing large fish so you can bring them in as well.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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