'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. Ann

    In my house we have many guns, rifles and handguns, and no one has gotten hurt. My sons are grown now but they had the usual fights with each other and my husband and myself. Everyone has had a temper tantrum at one time or another. They have mouthed off at people at times. We all have had access to the weapons and if we wanted to we could have found the ammo, but no one has. It's not the guns that kill, I think Bob Costas was in poor taste for bringing that up right now. The families are hurting and possibly looking for answers as to why it happened. One of them may have owned the weapon that was used and feels extra bad. We don't know. Send the family your sympathy and wait til all of the facts are out. Don't put the blame on an inanimate object. The gun did not go off by itself.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ray Jay

    Costas is an idiot. If people begin killing other people with letter openers will you ban the too. Abortion murders babies. He should go on a rant about that next because I am sure there are some players who have paid for those.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. KeninTexas

    This is typical of these TV personalities. They think that they are all knowing and everyone should bow down to their opinion since they know best. But it's just that, it's only their opinion but they have a platform which they take advantage of by blabbering their rants for all to hear, mostly themselves.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Roger

    Lets see if Mr Costas gets canned like Hank Williams Jr. did. I doubt it, as NBC is just the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. My prayer is that his comments result in a million new members for the NRA. Sit down and shut up Bob. He was a murderer, and would have done it just as well with his bare hands.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Chet

    Send Costas to MSNBC. He has no business working sports if he wants to be a political commentator.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Samuel

    Gun control remains one of the most hot button topics and it is part of what makes it such a frightening subject. People for gun control realize how the "open door" policy on gun ownership creates so many scenarios where people die over minor arguments or emotional breakdowns. You can just grab your gun and squeeze the trigger.

    However, most gun control advocates are not as emotionally tied to the debate. The pro-gun sect is almost unhealthy in their obsession over it. Buying more guns because they believe the current administration might limit access, being willingly blinded to the convenience guns add to violent crime, etc. The mere mention of making mental health screenings or the like mandatory for gun ownership leads to angry responses.

    People are being killed by these types of zealots every day over meaningless events. Kids are being shot for playing their music too loud, neighbors are being killed because another neighbor is upset about their dog's barking, movie theaters are being shot up, kids are bringing them to school to shoot other kids who picked on them. But, it is our "constitutional right" to be able to kill anyone at any time, even at the complete detriment of our society.

    Bob Costas laid it out intelligently and logically. Sure, the last sentence was too convenient to be true, but everything else made perfect sense, but in the face of fanaticism, logic and reason mean nothing. Society keeps proving again and again that it cannot handle the responsibility of owning guns without heavier control being placed upon it. I just hope my friends, family and co-workers don't end up as another reminder of how right Costas really is.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Michelle

    I saw his speech during the half-time segment, and was extremely disappointed that political views were brought into this tragedy. If Jovan Belcher didn't have a gun at his disposal, he would have used a knife, or his bare hands. A gun isn't going to stop someone intent on killing someone. Look at the recent WY murders/suicide for instance, he used a bow and arrow, and knife to commit his murders/suicide – not a gun! If someone is intent on killing someone, they don't need a gun to do it! Guns just happen to be a vastly more effective tool of murdering someone. I was shocked to hear such ignorant words coming out of Mr. Costas mouth. And further shocked he used this horrific tragedy to use as a personal platform to voice his political opinions. For shame!

    By the way, I see a lot of people throwing numbers out there, that are incorrect. I hope I can provide a bit of factual statistics for those who haven't researched for themselves:

    According to FBI and Bureau of Justic statistics for 2009, there were 13,756 total murders. Of those 13,756 total murders, 9,203 were by a firearm. The 2009 statistics are virtually unchanged from 1980, by the way.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Erc in GA

    The topic of Gun Control will always be a strong debate. While we can all agree that Belcher's action was indeed horrible, we can all say that it was a horrible selfish act leaving a young child behind, possible scared, and having grow up with her father.

    I would gladly discuss the topic of gun control, but when I want to watch football that's what I expect. A hard fought game between two professionals. Bob's comment was classless and inappropriate for the time.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ZipWizard

    Hey...Bob Costas is allowed some editorial comments over such a tragedy. He's more than entitled to speak his mind about it. Give him some space. To each his own.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baby Doc

      ...and I'm entitled to give him crap about it. Free speech, right?

      It's easy for him to sit there and use his national television forum to spout an unqualified opinion without having to back his statements up.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MerryChristmas

    All citizens in our great land should become proficient in, and carry hand guns. How many would have died in the Colorado Theatre if a high percentage of patrons were carrying? Columbine Shootings? Virginia Tech Massacre? And the violence that occurs in a free society. Protect yourselves.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Marty

    so if he had beaten her and then jumped off a bridge, would we start cutting off hands and tearing down bridges? Costas, I am ashamed of you.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bruno

    I personally think Costas should lose his job for this unwarranted and extremely insensitive rant on his personal political agenda rather than properly consoling the family, friends and teammates of Belcher. You are pathetic Costas. You were not hired to give your political opinions at halftime. Can Costas!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. USMC

    Thank you Bob Costas for having the courage to discuss this. It is about time someone does.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Virginia Rojo

      I agree. He knew he was going to get a lot of hate mail when he said it on air. It takes guts to stand up to gun zealots.Good for him!!

      December 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wiley

      But he didn't discuss it. He just spouted off his opinion without any facts or prior consideration for the families left behind. There is a time and a place for having a discussion about gun control and/or mental health, but halftime of a football game is not the right place.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wanda

    What else do you expect from a leftist BS NBC commentator, it had nothing to do with gun control, that's what this administration and the UN wants the America people to belief, so they can take the guns away from americans. If it turns out that this murderer had to many head injuries from football, do we ban football, because without football injuries, the murderer and his poor girlfreind would be alive. Costas get of the leftist soap box.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • tryscience

      Here we go again with paranoid right-wing lunacy. The UN??!! To take your analogy to the logical result, people fall down stairs and break their necks, shouldn't we then ban all stairs? The continual stupidity of these kinds of arguments never ceases to amaze.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      To continue tryscience's arguement, people fall down stairs so we should outlaw stairs. We outlawed murder, but it still happens, so outlaw guns? We outlawed texting while driving, but I still see it happening on the interstate. Should we outlaw cars, or phones, or both? Obviously even though its against the law to shoot people for no good reason, people still do it so outlaw guns. Its against the law to text while driving, but people still do it. Time to outlaw phones and cars.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jacque

    Bob Costas was wrong to make the comment he did last night. He is entitled to his views and opinions, but that was not the time or place.
    Good bye NBC you have lost a viewer!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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