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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. USMC

    This is not a political issue, it is a moral and social issue.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      Oorah! Any of us who have had to fire a weapon with the express purpose of killing someone, as was required of any Marine serving in combat, knows all too well, what destruction a firearm can do. It has two victims – the person killed and the one that fired the weapon. Yes, it is both a moral and social issue, ones that are growing totally out of control, especially with the rampant paranoia infecting our society.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Annie

    I am not a proponent of hand guns. I hate them! But to take up an issue of gun control in this tragedy is a tragedy in itself. Look at the man! Look at the relationship!. Was a this young man mentally ill? Was this an abusive relationship? Obviously this man was out of control when he shot this woman multiple times. That points more toward a violent nature then a calm mannered personality. Bob Costas would have done better had he talked about mental illness or domestic abuse.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jacque

    Thats right, if he wanted her dead gun or no gun she would be dead.
    I am boycotting as well.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Portland tony

    Guns in the hands of responsible folks bear no risk to their fellow citizens. And there are those who reiterated that if there were no guns, people would, if provoked, attack each other with sharpened sticks. Both statements are probably true. However, this doesn't explain why this temporarily deranged young man commited cold blooded murder before taking his own life. It is an issue, but has nothing to do with guns or sharp sticks. Anyhow, Costas is entitled to his opinion, although not on the public's airways

    December 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. reality check

    Belcher had everything going for him. A high-paying job he loved, a beautiful girlfriend and child, and the promise of a bright future for he and his family. There is no argument that justifies his stupidity and selfishness. If you're looking for root cause, it's not going to show up in a gun manufacturer's sales ledger.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Larry Whitney

    Larry W

    Bob Costas was paid by the democrats to say what he said. His logic can't be that far off.
    I will be a memeber of the NRA by the end of the week.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jeff E

    I think part of the problem is society, I don't think you will ever be able to keep people from owning guns, there are just too many of them, you can keep them from owning them legally probably, all that will do is hurt the person from making a living, but they will still own a gun, you would be an idiot to live in this society without the ability to protect yourself. I do think Hollywood and others need to quit glorifying the guns though, has anyone in the world ever not seen a movie with a gun in it? And no gun law would have prevented Jovan from owning a gun, he hasn't so much as ever had a speeding ticket. Society would be better off to focus on what we can control, and not on what we will never control, and will only likely start a civil war with the gun nuts.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. William Moore

    I don't know why people speak on issues and do no do their research. I am a Police Officer in a high crime city so I see crimes like this offten, but to blame guns is stupid. When people have their mindset to kill that's what they are going to do!!!!! Gun knife, bare hands, car, fire...... When you work around people who commit crimes then you get to know the mind set. Stick with sports!!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Ron

    Thank you Bob Costas!! Well said. Right on the mark.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Right on the mark? Really? A journalist single-sourcing another journalist with less than diverse sources himself?

      Look at the photo of the three of them. He didn't need a gun. He didn't need anything.

      There were 35,918 motor vehicle related fatalities in 2009 according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (it's a .gov). Over 13,000 those were passenger cars. Less than 4500 were motorcyclists. Obviously we should outlaw passenger vehicles and require everyone to operate motorcycles, using that same logic. It's obviously easier to die in a passenger car than a motorcycle because more people have guns than knives.

      By the way, did you know that, according to the Department of Justice, boyfriends killed by someone they have been intimate with are more likely to be killed by a knife than a gun? Girlfriends, i.e. unmarried intimate women such as Kasandra Perkins are more likely to be killed by force, i.e. beating them until they're dead.

      So to keep everything fair for all genders, we're going to have to outlaw knives. From the plastic one you get at McDonalds with your Big Breakfast Platter, to the steak knife at the Outback, to.. well just about everything so we're not discriminating against men. At the same time, to actually protect the women in the class of victims Kasandra Perkins belongs to, we should probably outlaw fists, feet, boots, punching, and kicking.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCheng

      @ James:

      " It's obviously easier to die in a passenger car than a motorcycle because more people have guns than knives."

      This sentence doesn't make sense.

      Then again, I think the number of deaths-per-hour-of-exposure to a gun is much more than that of a knife, or a car. For example, the average American spends about 48 minutes a day in a car commuting to work alone; nevermind shopping, trips to family, movies etc. Can you really tell me the average American spends the same time shooting a gun?

      Point being, cars, motorcycles, knives, etc. have other uses that people spend the majority of the time performing. Until you can tell me that the average American uses their gun for a half hour a day, then the raw numbers are meaningless.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff - Sarasota, FL

    It isn't the gun laws... It is the person/persons who are to blame...

    Think about this... To get a drivers license you have to take a written test and pass a driving test with a motor vehicle testing agent in the car with you to verify you can SAFELY handle the auto and you follow the rules...

    Take a drive a look at how crazy people that passed those 2 tests drive now that they have their license... It is the same with a gun... You can pass the background test and everything else just fine and get the gun... BUT, since you never got caught torturing animals when you were a kid nobody knows you are dangerous... Same with getting pulled over, just because you are a terrible or unsafe driver, unless you have been caught your drivers license shows clean...

    Why is it when someone with a guns goes off and shoots a bunch of people in a crowd and kills 2 or 3 we get all bent out of shape, yet when someone in a car runs through a crowd of peple and kill 2 or 3 we look at it differently... How do we know it wasn't premeditated with the car...

    We don't, we just ASSUME it was an accident... So, like I said, take a drive sometime and really pay attention to how some of the people out there drive and remember, they passed a test with the inspector riding with them before they got their license... Road Rage anyone!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. John

    "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. "

    That would be the criminal culture. Our "current gun culture" ensures that parents teach children how to safely handle fire arms, how to shoot skeet, plink at cans and poke holes in pieces of paper. Adherents to "our current gun culture" enjoy time outside with friends and loved ones, sometimes in competition and sometimes just recreation.

    It is ironic that someone that represents a sport fails to understand the nature of a different sport.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. realitysuxs

    While it is a terrible and sad situation this type of behavior is now typical in our society and no matter if you outlaw guns, knives and even alcohol people will still find ways to kill people.

    Today people take the easy way out... If they cant work something out they throw a fist, a knife or yes a gun into the fray and people get injured...If i recall a Baseball fan got thrown almost to his death at a game this last season...did we talk about banning concourse ramps at stadiums because they kill as well?

    Most of these issues occur because of the the thug lifestyle may people want to emulate that is so widely popular via hip hop, rap and heavy metal music (listen to the lyrics, they talk about beating women, offing people with guns or jsut kicking the crap out of others).

    This young lady knew what she was getting involved with because she even was worried about his violent nature... but she just kept on coming back was it because of the Money, maye her so-called love for the man or a lack of self esteem she might have we will never know, however these domestic abuse situations happen time and again all over our society and everybody pities the person but they still go back to that well (such as Rihanna and Chris Brown). A violent lifestyle in America just seems like the new norm.

    We all know the gun killed this woman and that is truly a shame. However, I can guarantee you that even if he didnt have a gun, this young lady more than likely would have still be seriously harmed or kiilled just by a different means. He might not have taken his own life and we would have had basically the same sad situation but then people blaming he was a misguided young man not knowing his own temper and the NFL contributing to his violent streak.

    Granted, we do need gun control in the US., however we as a society need to learn how to control ourselves and our violent tendencies first. People that abide by laws (and learn how to safely operate a firearm) should not have any issues purchasing any type of firearm, whether a pistol or a long barreled gun if they fit the criteria.

    Maybe we should outlaw people from having children and relationships with the opposite sex until they can prove they are muture rational adults who can handle adversity?

    December 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. jon

    Vote with your wallet. If NBC wants to advocate gun control, let the advertisers know you will not be purchasing their products advertised on NBC. After a couple of down quarters, the shareholders will demand a change in all of the companies, including NBC.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric

      Don't boycot the product, just the station. Poor ratings will hit them where it hurts.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Me

    If he beat her to death with a baseball bat, would Costas insist we gather and burn all baseball bats? What an idiot.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • luvuall

      How many murders/killings involving NFL Players in the past 10 years have involved guns? How many have involved bats or other weapons? Where would you find that information? If guns are getting a bad reputation without reason then gun advocates need to be posting that information.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott

    Bob your comment you made on national television while doing your job as a sports announcer was not only ridiculous it was not needed. To say these people would still be alive if handguns were made illegal, even if you were paraphrasing, is just silly. I think in your attempt to show people where you stand on gun control failed and you only succeeded in showing people just how ignorant you really are. I would like to say something to NBC about this, but seeing how they are a struggling network I'm sure their enjoying all this attention.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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