'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. Bruce R

    Hey Costas, my spoon made me overweight. What do you think about that? Utensil control?

    December 3, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eddie

    Its his opinion. He has a right to it

    December 3, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. ronjayaz

    I like Bob Costas a lot but his remarks were silly for a person of his intelligence. Even tho I dont own a gun and never have, I respect the 2nd Amendment as Jesse Ventura so brilliantly mentioned the Y of it. It was an implicit distrust of govt and the right to defend oneself against a tyrannical govt that might arise in the future. What Costas shud have mentioned is the brain injury that football causes & subsequent violence that accompanies it. The brief opinion was alright. It was the content that was wrong.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brian

    The incident was on Saturday morning – ONE day before the Sunday Night Football game. And I applaud Costas, not you cowards who don't want to address the issue or think he should be fired. Shame on you.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      You can't legislate against insanity. It would have been just as easy for this guy to strangle, beat his wife to death. I'm just tired of the gun grabbers highlighting every gun tragedy that takes place.

      Here, chew on these statistics and take up this fight:

      FBI's crime statistics for 2010 – firearms murders 8,775
      Deaths due to medical malpractice – 225,000!!!!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. montanalibertarian

    Get real. NFL football is a really violent sport that celebrates, and desensitizes people to, hard hits and damaging sacks. For Costas, who makes a fraction of his very comfortable living off of that violence, to mount a soapbox and make a political statement was absurd, offensive and totally inappropriate.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    According to a July 13 article in the Chicago Tribune "Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck says there are at least 13 published studies finding no meaningful connection between the rate of firearms ownership and the rate of suicides. The consensus of experts, he says, is that an increase in gun ownership doesn't raise the number of people who kill themselves–only the number who do it with a gun."
    Costas should get his facts straight.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Kleck's work in this field is outstanding. He is a voice of reason. A good overview is:
      Kleck, G. (2009). Mass Shootings in Schools: The Worst Possible Case for Gun Control. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(10), 1447-1464.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Laura

    Suicide and murder are not a result of guns or lack of gun control. It is a result of mental illness. Put as much effort into promoting mental health services as you do touting gun control issues and maybe, just maybe you might make a difference!!

    December 3, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • KeninTexas

      Well said.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    It always angers me when people capitalize on tragedy to push their political agendas. The NFL halftime was not the place for this message...and most certainly not this soon. What's more is I simply don't believe it's accurate. The guy wanted to kill his girlfriend. Are you really telling me he wouldn't have come up with another means if there wasn't a gun around? Really?

    December 3, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruno

      I agree with you!

      December 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    The issue of gun control is not that easy on either side. Personally I don't think guns should be banned, at the same time I recognize that it is much easier for a 100lb teenager to pull a gun and shoot someone that normally he/she could not overpower either with his hands or some sort of "manual" weapon. yeah i know, if one is hell bent on killing someone one is going to find a way to do it, on the other side less guns would mean the death rate would drop, so instead of behaving like primates maybe we can find a balance...

    December 3, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      Gun Violence may drop but violent crime typically increases. See Australia and UK violent crime statistics since gun bans.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rod P

    If you google Sunday Night Football the web page is an MSNBC site (go figure) without a comment link (go figure). I'll vote with my remote and refrain from watching the game until Costas is gone. Boy, I'm gonna miss Al Michaels. MNF stinks but I feel personally insulted and don't have to watch the SNF game. Adios.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. JL

    Whether or not this was the right place to make such comments, I do agree with Bob. A gun doesn't kill someone by itself, but it makes it a lot easier for someone to make a terrible decision. You are deluding yourself if you think that enacting stricter gun laws and actively working to prevent hand guns from getting into the wrong hands WON'T save lives. It is true that some murders would have taken place no matter what weapons were available. But hand guns also give criminals more options. A drive-by shooting, for example, offers criminals a quick, easy way to kill from a distance, and a much higher likelihood of escaping justice. Unfortunately, many Americans aren't willing to give up the false sense of security that allowing nearly anyone to get a hand gun affords them.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      Agreed

      December 3, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • CaliforniaMomma

      JL...let's take a look at how well banning weapons has actually worked in bringing down the murder rate...take Chicago for an example. Rates have gone UP since they have banned guns. If we ban guns, only the criminals will have them...because goodness knows that a criminal isn't a criminal because they follow the laws and have morals. If you ban guns and tell any gun owner they have to turn in their guns, do you honestly think that criminals will be lining up to turn in their weapons? Hell no...they will keep their weapons...and will continue to smuggle them into the country illegally. A weapon's ban does nothing but disarm law abiding citizens and give us no way to protect ourselves and our families from violent criminals who will still have guns. My husband's family has owned guns for generations, and there has NEVER been either an accidental discharge, or someone using the gun for anything other than providing the family with food (bird or deer hunting). Please do not think that a gun ban will make the country a safer, happier place. Making people accountable and teaching real morals and values in our schools (and at home) again will go a much longer way towards fewer violent confrontations. My deepest sympathies go out to the families affected by this tragedy, but this man was a murderer and would have found a way to kill his girlfriend eitiher way...he would have beaten her to death, or stabbed her, or strangled her, etc... He didn't need the gun and I believe this tragedy would have occured gun or no gun.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Here's the problem, Knives are very valid killing instruments and no one champions their regulation. They are much more brutal in implementation and just as sure. To address another point. GangBangers who do drivebys have also learned that handguns arent very accurate, rather a shotgun can reach out and touch alot more people and inflict alot more damage. You can openly buy those at Walmart!! Handguns are picked on by those liberals who do not understand that guns arent doing the killing, its people. Those same people are all for violent films, TV programs laced with horrible violence and video games that teach, at least virtually, how to kill and mame. The minds of our population is what has been damaged and it's not from guns. American Indians massacred first without guns and then with them. Nothing changed because they wanted to kill. Until we eliminate the source of our problems, neither guns, knives, autos, rocks, bricks or blunt objects being banned will stop someone from doing what they want to do. Bob Costas had an agenda to put forth and Sunday night, after this horrific tragedy, was not the place to do it. He needed to save that for HIS BLOG! I dont read it and dont care about what he thinks....along with the rest of the uninformed!

      December 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
      Ben Franklin

      December 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fahkcostas

    Costas is nothing but a POS and needs to learn to shut his mouth. All he wanted to do was talk about steroids in baseball but in football where almost 80% of the players are jacked its gun control time. If guns were illegal like steroids I guess only NFL players and MLB players and possibly Lance Armstrong would be packing heat. I would be willing to bet this has more to do with ROID RAGE than gun control but lets see if the NFL lets that get out.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Pat in VA

    It is truly sad that we only speak on a topic when tragedy strikes. Two people are dead, a little girl has lost her mother and her father. What do you tell this child when she grows up about her parents. I have long thought that there has to be some order to guns. The wrong people are using them for the wrong reason. I know we can't govern everthing. A knife could have been use just as well, a fist, ones own hand, and we don't have a law for that. When you thing of the numbers of acts of violence that befalls an individual because of the use of a handguns, or guns of any kind, it hurts. Yes we need guns to fight a war, but why must that war be with our own. I feel bad for the 2 families that must now go thru the process of planning a funeral for their loved one. Who will be next? We no longer solve our problems with are minds, we solve them with weapons. Thisis truly sad. Sure we wnated to see football this past Sunday, however, while millions of american were watching their game, the interruption had to give all of us food for thought. It started this dialogue didn't it?

    December 3, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. cjm 71

    My post is a little off topic for this article, but I haven't found an artucle where it quite fits yet, so here I go. What I found outlandish about this story, was that the reporting on Sunday put this 25 year old man as a type of victim. It wasn't until Tom Jackson, from ESPN pointed out that this guy was a MURDERER. Even then, the rest of panel didn't make any remarks backing Tom up on his statement. It seems that since the MURDERER was a football player, and suppossedly a "really nice guy," that the focus was not on the fact that he killed a young woman and the mother of his baby.

    I would hope that if he didn't committ suicide, that he woukld have been eviserated for the horrible monster he was, a murderer!

    December 3, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. AmericanMeltDown

    Football causes head injuries, that result in mental issues – We need to outlaw football? Nuts
    This man would have found a way to kill this woman – beat her to death, strangulation, stabbing? If he had stabbed her, would these two idiots be calling for a knife ban? Stick to sports reporting – you even need work on that, both of you!

    December 3, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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