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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. Jonathan

    I am assuming that most of the people on here defending gun ownership are Christians, which makes me wonder how you can justify your political stance on guns with Christian morality (at least the way it was taught to me). If I told you that giving up your right to own a hand gun (whose primary function is to kill) would save ONE PERSON in the future from a premature violent death wouldn't Christian morality require you to do it?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. BB King

    Whitlock obviously shouldn't have a gun since he will be "tempted to escalate arguments" if he has one

    December 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dccolorado

    Very sad. Costas did nothing wrong if you don't like it halftime is only 15 minutes so change the channel. No need to take guns away just more education. It takes a year to get a drivers license now how about a little more time to obtain a easily concealed handgun.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bill Hice

    Guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. John

    Gun Control? What a bunch of TFM's. It's no surprise at all that we've only traveled as far as the moon.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Scott

    He's entitled to his opinion, as am I.
    But he forgets the central fact that it required a human being to pull the trigger.
    Perhaps he would have preferred the G/F be beaten and stabbed to death? Or strangled? Or cut up and thrown in the trash? Run her over with his car?
    I apologize for the ugly imagery, but the girl would have been dead regardless.
    The issue is people and our society, not guns.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. LD

    "A Dutch man who was beaten and kicked by several football players....died Monday."

    Was it the hands or feet that perpetrated this crime? Should we ban hands and feets? Institute strict control of hands and feet? Maybe we have people register their hands and feet? Sound ridiculous? Yes.

    The problem wasn't the gun, it was Belcher. We should probably think about how we help those who need it. It's tough though, some people won't show signs until it's too late. Sometimes we miss the signs. Sometimes we ignore the signs because we don't want to get "in their business". I don't know what happened with them, I wasn't there, but he killed a young lady and himself, he obviously needed help.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. FacePalm

    He's no class because he mentioned gun control? That makes perfect sense...

    December 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Derek

    Recently in Casper WY. a person killed his own father, his fathers girlfriend and then himself. Guess what he did all of that without a gun! He used a knife and a crossbow! It is the person not the weapon get that through your heads ignorant people!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dan I

    I'm in favor of gun control, but that wasn't the issue here. Gun control wouldn't have stopped this, this was a case of domestic violence likely exacerbated by head trauma sustained from his playing football.

    The REAL questions we have to ask here are about domestic violence in athletics, why we let them get away with it, and WHY we continue to have a sport where it is CLEAR that it is resulting is MASSIVE trauma to people's brains that is resulting in symptoms that rival Alzheimer's in 30-40 year old men and where veteran's of the support routinely die in their 50s/

    December 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. cellstrom

    Thank you Bob. ANd shame on all of you cowards who stand behind guns. The second amendment was NOT written as you imply. It was never intended for us to be in this situation. It is time for a reasoned conversation on this topic, eliminate the NRA and its hacks. Time to control guns. You DON"T have the right to just carry them around. Stop being so afraid, the world is nowhere near as crazy as you think. Well, except in your own tiny minds.

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

      Don't like guns? Don't buy one.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSense

      The 2nd Amendment was written as a check and balance against an ALL POWERFUL government. That if needed, the people would have the means and the right to rise up against an overbearing government (read revolution). Once all our freedoms are taken away as you advocate, I can only surmise that you will be one of the immediate "sheep" led to slaughter once you begin expressing your opinions that go against the ALL POWERFUL government. Mental health is the issue in any case like this and let's put the blame squarely where it needs to rest...on the man that killed his girlfriend and then killed himself.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Henry

    I agree that we can't rush to judgement. THE GUN DID NOT KILL THOSE PEOPLE, it was the person behind the gun. Could have easily been a knife if he had no gun and was going to go through with it. Stick to sports Costas.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Matt

    hey Costas ~ Did you see the news from Wyoming friday? A man killed three people – Two (including himself) with a knife or knives.

    The third with a frickin' bow and arrow.

    Guns may expedite killing – but they dont cause it. Man will just return to kililing with spears, clubs, and rocks -

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

      Good point, Matt.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Oh c'mon. Out of all the the murders in the US, what percentage are committed with guns? 'Nuff said

      December 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jeff miller

    How do you account for the fact that gun related deaths are 8 times higher in the U.S than any other economically similar counties in the world? The only countries with higher rates per capita are all developing/war tor countries.
    The suicide rate for gun related deaths is even more eye-opening.
    By these statistics, America must be the most voilent and depressed nation in the world.
    I would think that without an available gun at the ready, many if not most of these murders/suicides would not occur.
    Many will argue if someone wanted to kill someone or themselves they don't need guns, but a high majority of these fatalities are spur of the moment. How many times has a person ingested too many pills only to call 911 once they had second thoughts/

    December 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. NorCalMojo

    He was a grown man who had everything going for him and he chose to kill his girlfriend. That's what happened. Trying to blame everyone except the man who committed the act is ridiculous. The culture of jock sniffing sycophancy had more to do with his actions than the NRA. Maybe if professional athletes weren't put on pedestals and protected from reality they'd have a better handle on their emotions.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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