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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. Jon

    What about all the law abiding gun owners, because of a few bad apples take the guns away from all?? No way. If you use that logic we should take automobiles away, because people could drink and drive. I fought for this country and give alot of you people the right say what you are saying, but this is a load of crap. I have a right to bear arms, just like you have the right to say something stupid.

    I have one question for all the gun haters out there, have you ever went hunting or even shot a gun?

    December 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Phil

    First of all I am pretty sure that Murders have been taking place long before guns were invented. It happened before the guns got here, and it will continue to happen if you take the guns away. It is unfortunate what happened but someone who resorts to this kind of violence will find a way to carry it through whethers its with a handgun, a knife or just grabbing the first heavy blunt object they see. This guys emotional state was seriously out of wack and I cannot believe there were no crys for help whether verbal or seen through emotional distress and behavior. Guns don't kill people, the crazy emotionally scarred people that carry them do! And to bring this up now right after a family lost their daughter & son... Disgusting

    December 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pinkontheinside

    If NBC stays true to form Costas will get a huge raise and a full time talk show.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hampton

    Saying guns kill people is like saying spoons make people fat. It is the intention of the wielder. Do you think the criminals will be affected by any gun laws? No. They will still get and kill people. It is the honest law abiding citizens that get affected by this.

    On the other hand, there should be some moderation. Have a criminal record? Suffering from an illness that affect ability to rationally think? Then, no gun or any weapon ever for you.

    If we take away the right to bear arms, then our country is one more step towards anarchy. Though, I imagine, some would like that.

    I think we are entitled to our opinion, and in regards to what people say, this nation is becoming soft. Costas should stay, even if people don't agree with what he said.

    No one will ever agree with everything everyone says. Don't like what he said, don't watch his shows. Don't like what a company says, don't buy their products.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KC

    Bob Costas was out of line using a sporting event halftime show to espouse his views about gun control. I use to like him but he has crossed the reasoning line with this speech. He claims to know that Ms. Perkins and Jovan Belcher would both be slive if not for guns being available. No Mr. Costa you aren't God so you can" t say for sure without a gun, Jovan wouldn't have killed his live in girlfriend Ma. Perkins. Football players can be aggressive on the football field and , as in society, some cross the line and flip on their aggressive side at home too. Why, you might ask and I say it starts at home with the environment a child is raised in. I know nothing about the home life of Mr. Belcher but I do know football players usually are strong and can bench press people like me or Mr. Costas without blinking an eye. It is ridiculous to say a football player wouldn't have killed his girlfriend without a gun because no one can say for certain what a person will or won't do only that person knows what evil lurks within their heart.I would be willing to bet Jovan witnessed domestic violence as a child and also bet he had been the victim of such violence before he became a victimizer in his adult life. Throwing money ( in foitball contracts) at people doesn't change what is inside a person as frequently professional football players are revered and admired on the football fields of America for the very traits ( aggression and violence) that make them dangerous ticking time bombs in their homes. I am not saying all football players or even some football players are like this but I say O. J. Simpson is one example ( I know he was acquitted of the murders but he did it in my opinion and used a knife to kill 2 people) Steve McNair , another football player died ina murder suicide although reports said his girlfriend killed him then herself. In my opinion, until we bring God back into our nation and live by the golden rule, we will see more murder/ suicides than the ones we have already witnessed. Technically the gun was used to kill Ms. Perkins but somewhere the seed of anger grew into the tree of wrath in Mr. Belchers heart before the crime occurred..The question should be who " watered" that wrath seed in Mr. Belcher.. I bet there were people in Mr. Belcher's life that influenced him to the point that the one day that did come to pass last Saturday, was almost predictable and inevitably going to have happened because of things that occurred in his life. Lest I am misunderstood, Mr. Belcher is responsible fir what he did last Saturday but I believe he at some point in his life had been exposed to or had been a victim of abuse himself.. Statics frequently show abused people can become abusers .. A gun didn't make him dangerous, his life experiences did.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott

    When I want to drive, I have to prove I know how to handle the vehicle because it is a piece of dangerous machinery. Both the car and myself are licensed.

    If I want a gun, I just go buy one. No training required, even though it's just as dangerous a piece of machinery.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt S

    FYI Gun related crimes committed with legal or licensed weapons, are minuscule compared to those committed with illegal or unlicensed weapons!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Weasel

    Alcohol kills more people than guns do. Why doesn’t alcohol stricter control get more attention than gun control?

    December 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Alcohol *IS* strictly controlled. There are a limited number of liquor licenses, and people who look like they could be below the legal age are carded. There are checkpoints to prevent drunk people from driving, etc.

      Far easier to buy a gun than to get alcohol in most states.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ccw holder

      "Far easier to buy a gun than to get alcohol in most states."

      but that's wrong. you have never tried to buy a gun before have you? every state requires a background check to purchase a gun (minus private sales. but in my state, nc, all of the private sellers ask for the buyer to be a ccw holder so they know the purchaser can pass a background check) not to mention they are required to check your drivers license too.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    A football player murdering his girlfriend and mother of his child shouldn't get more attention than the thousands of other women who suffer from physical abuse. as far as gun control aspects, to make that leap he would have just as easily used anything else around, a baseball bat, a knife, etc.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • dhondi

      No, he is blameless....the gun made him do it.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      I agree with your first point, but that's just reality – famous people are going to get more news coverage.

      I disagree with your second point though. Our gun laws in this country are insane. There is a very good chance that these two people would still be alive had he not been in possession of a hand gun. Of course, we'll never know, but we do know without doubt that at least in many cases such as this, death would not have been the outcome had a hand gun not been present.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      It's about time that someone brought this level of discussion to the center stage. There is a certain culture that thinks it's glamorous and hip to carry around a hand gun, even if it's possessed illegally. This "urban hipness" associated with possessing a firearm needs to be tempered by these kind of doses of reality. When people are viciously angry they are irrational and capable of bringing whatever tools are at hand to vent that anger. I can think of no better arena (or should I say circus) to serve as a podium for this discussion than the NFL.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TheBigSarge

    even if you don't look at adam and eve as being created by God, of their two children, it only took one with a rock to kill the other one.

    nicole simpson and her boyfriend were killed with a knife. going to outlaw knives at the golden corral? three day waiting period before you can pick up you cutlerly set from walmart?

    -TheBigSarge

    December 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brimstone

      Yes, because the primary purpose of kitchen cutlery is to jam it into another person...

      A more appropriate comparison would be guns and rocket propelled grenades.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gene

    Bob Costas didn't make these comments, his microphone did.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Hand guns don't save people, people do. But seriously, you unintentionally make a good point – if they feel he shouldn't be doing / saying what he did, then they should take the mic away from him. Just as since we know there's nothing we want people doing with a hand gun, we should take those away as well. Not complicated.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chuckt

    Someone is sitting in a bar right now and will choose to drive their car tonight. They will hit someone and kill them and lives will be changed forever. Do we need to outlaw alchol again? Did the alchol kill that person? It's a reason! People kill people and guns don't. People pull the trigger or tip up their drink, either way people die by that persons choice. No one wants to be accountable for anything and we are bringing our kids up in a society that it's always someone or something elses faults for their shortcomings.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Just Say No

    Guns kill, PERIOD! The number of people killed in America by guns is 600% higher than it is in Canada per capita, which has gun control. 600%!!

    As someone who served in the military for 24 years and who has seen combat, I do not have a gun in my house and I will not.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Good luck when someone comes and robs your house.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • dhondi

      How will you protect yourself when a gun breaks into your house and shoots you?

      December 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigD

      Thank goodness you're out of the military. You must have been an airmen

      December 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • KimH

      Really? I have NEVER seen a gun get up and shoot someone all by itself. Neither did a knife, a vehicle, or someone's bare hands. Yet they have all been instruments of death. Let's outlaw them all!

      December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brimstone

      Yes, Kim. Lets completely ignore that fact that the primary purpose of firearms IS to kill things.

      As for vehicles, knives, and hands, I have a feeling those have a variety of other uses. "Instruments of death"? Please...

      December 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SCCWP

    why doesn't he concentrate on the thug culture of NFL / NBA and how many of these players never had a father figure. Its not the guns..its the culture they were raised in!

    December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WillB

    Bad timing makes Costas look like an idiot....but then, maybe he is. Today's medical research finds that repeated "hits" even light ones, in contact sports causes brain damage. Better to ban football, if Costas really wants to end the violence. Perhaps he could comment on that at half time during the Superbowl. Course he'd be out of a job before the 4th quarter.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
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