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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. Dockinabox

    Costas & Whitlock- Two more misguided pundits in love with the sound of their own words.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. geo

    Hank Williams Jr was fired for voicing a joke on Monday Night Football. Costas should be fired as his rant was much more inflamatory than what Hank Jr ssid.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Uh Bob?

    If not for asteroids, the dinosaurs would still be alive. Ban asteroids!

    December 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RW

    If Cain did not have a gun, Abel would still be alive today.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. grover

    Let's get all the vehicles off the streets as well. Surely they're responsible for more deaths in the country than guns. Time to turn him and his station off.

    December 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. horseyak

    In America we still have freedom of speech ( unless Obama tries to take that away too) and Costas can say whatever he deems suitable within network standards. I see nothing wrong with his remarks and I see nothing wrong with people having their various opinions about it. FIRE HIM????? This is just crazy. Pretty soon I'm going to have to move to Russia for a little democracy.

    December 6, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Steve Williams

    Mr. Costas is just another rich pampered misinformed celebrity who has abused his position in the media to push a political issue that goes against the will of the majority of the American people. Mr. Costas is surrounded by security every day and I am sure his home has the highest type of security money can buy. He does not live in the day to day world most of us do so he has a stilted idea of what is good for the rest of us. If you allow a law to be passed that prevents the average citizen from obtaining guns then only the government, (including law enforcement) and the criminal element have weapons. From that point on you will be dictated to either by power hungry politicians or the dude breaking into your house. Mr. Costas is not, in my opinion, even that good of a sportscaster so I think like all "celebrities" he's got to do something contraversial to keep his little name in the paper.

    December 6, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. NomadLand

    Are gun owners really so insecure that no discussion whatsoever can take place? C'mon people.....

    December 6, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      First off, because most anti-gun debaters don't know a thing about guns, their logic is "if it looks scary, ban it". Second, why have a discussion, negotiate or compromise when there is absolutely no way you can come out better because of it?

      What does the anti-gun crowd offer that would even remotely make me interested in having a discussion with them about how they can restrict what I can do? About the only bargaining chips they have on their table are reopening the NFA registry to new automatic weapons, and nationwide CCW. Do you honestly think they would use either of those in a "compromise"?

      December 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nomadmen

      That's a red herring remark. The time and place of the remarks made were obviously wrong. Opinion pieces don't belong in sportscasts, Cosell proved that, and Costas should be held to the same example. Are liberals so insecure about their position in the first place that they stoop to presenting the position in inappropriate places in an attempt to stir up controversy?

      December 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TheInfamyofJames

    ITS SIMPLE. PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE. Does not mater the means, the know or the how. From the beginning of time it has been thus so.

    December 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • krehator

      Gun laws in Russia are stricter and they still have more crime....

      December 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. valwayne

    When I tune into watch a a football game I don't want to listen to a Sportscaster take up my time to spew his personal views about Gun Control or any other subject for which he is totally unqualified. Its arrogance and EGO to the nth degree. Who the heck does he think he is?

    December 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dammit

      You didn't miss any plays because someone said something you didn't like during the game's intermission. Get over yourself. And for future reference, it's called a television remote control. Ever heard of it?

      Go Gators.

      December 8, 2012 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Psabksa

    Domestic violence is always a tradegy. Everyone should know about it, understand it, and learn the signs of it. To try and say that gun control would have kept this from happining is as unfounded as saying that we should contol of the sale of gasoline. If we had wouldn't Josh Powell's children would still be alive? If someone is enraged and so out of control that they kill, they will use whatever weapons are at hand. To assume we will stop violence by removing any one single weapon is terribly unrealistic.

    December 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ME

    It seems everyone is saying the same thing, gun control is not the issue, disturbed people. Selfish people who lack respect and civility are the reason murder occurs SMH. People have been beaten to death, killed with knives and even poisoned, thus, GUNS are not even close to the problem. I have enjoyed Bob Costas sarcasm over the years, however, as a journalist or analyst personal opinions should remain PERSONAL. I think passion provoked him to express his feelings. I don’t think his statements warrant him to lose his job, because worse has been said by a journalist.

    December 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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    December 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. mike sylvan

    The need for a real debate on how to curb gun violence is long overdue, but unfortunately our elected officials are too intimidated by the NRA and the gun lobby to do anything about it. It would be interesting to find out the amount of the campaign contributions that our elected officials receive from these organizations. Let us hope that someday our elected offficials will put the safety of the American people first, instead of planning their next election.

    December 8, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Roberto Costas

    Bob Costas! How could someone so smart and talented be so ignorant?

    December 8, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
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