'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. Robert

    As in bullying and close relationships, Rejection is something we as a society are not fully recognizing, understanding or preparing our youth for.
    Anger,rejection,jealousy and fear; fueling subsequent retaliation are components of the vicious circle of uncontrolled emotions unleashed by hurtful words.
    The world struggles daily with the unhealthy concept of men "owning" the woman he has chosen as "his" spouse, and the subsequent actions taken when betrayal is discovered or perceived.
    Talk to young people and educate them about handling life's choices and rejections. Life is much more than till death do us part!

    December 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BOMBO ©

    Every time a gun tragedy strikes, these comments appear from pro gun US citizens and prove George Orwell right in his concept of "doublethink".

    December 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Budweiser08

    If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. People kill people. Dude could have tied a lamp cord around her neck. Do we outlaw lights? Drunks kill people and thierselves in cars yet we still drive. People are the problem.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. impuwat

    Costas minimized the responsibility of each of us for our actions by implying Jovan would not have been so violent if it wasn't for the convenience of a gun nearby. Read the news regarding the less glamorous murder suicide at Casper College in Wyoming several days ago. Suspect killed his father's girlfriend with a knife, went to Casper College and killed his father with a bow and arrow, then killed himself in the classroom with a knife.

    Violence, mental stability and personal responsibility are the issues here. Those are all minimized by focusing the conversation on the tool used (whether gun, knife or arrow).

    December 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chupacabra

    "Guns dont kill people, people kill people" except in Wyoming college's,If I read it right a bow and arrow was used there in a recent college shootem up???..time to ban all bow's,pass laws aginst bow ownership in America....I voted democrat but I am very very pro-gun,everbody should have a bunch of them.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. No Thanks...

    There are roughly 80 million firearms owners in the US. Somehow, the vast majority of those 80 million people are able to reliably keep from murdering people and/or killing themselves.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dc

    All this talk of boycotts and "voting with your wallet" is just hilarious.

    Official prediction time: Ratings for NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcast next week will drop exactly 0.0. Why? Because 99.9% of us understand that media outlets have been making political and social statements since the printing press was invented, and we are mature and reasonable enough to listen to opinions we disagree with and not get "outraged".

    Boycotts and firings...get over yourselves.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. saib

    you all have it so wrong... guns don't kill people, BULLETS do! It's the bullet that actually kills the victim... well unless someone is beaten to death with the butt of the gun. But seriously, it's the bullets you should be worried about, not the gun. Where is the "bullet control" discussion!

    December 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryansco

      Again, you are another person who wants to put the blame somewhere else. Did the bullets pull the trigger? No, it was the action of Jevon Belcher and nothing else to blame but him!

      December 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vi Cauthon

      Splitting hairs. Of course bullets, guns and the hands that aim them kill. The ease of getting guns and the ammo for them is what is causing such calamaties as we've seen for years; Columbine, workplace shootings, the Aurora theater shooting were all made so easy for an unbalanced person to enact. IF the U.S. had real gun control, at least those acts would be more difficult to execute. When tempers flare or someone's paranoia goes off the chart, having a gun and ammo handy is inviting disaster.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenny

      I don't think saib was actually being serious...if you think about it for a second, you might get it, like food doesn't make people fat, spoons do.

      Just a thought...

      December 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John C

      Don't forget about arrows, they kill people too. We get rid of all legal bullets and arrows and we will be safe, like they are in Chicago.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • saib

      @John C... you are absolutely right. All projectiles need to be banned! Guns are ok... but only with blanks. Not sure what good bows will be; maybe decoration? whirl them around in self defense? what ever. The real issue needs to be addressed – Guns are safe... Projectiles – extremely dangerous! Especially those propelled by string or gun powder.... wait... should we be banning string and gun powder instead? Now im confused.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jake

    Listen people. This isn't the "old west" anymore. The second ammendment's "right to bear arms", shouldn't be relavent to society today. Just like we ammended the constitution to allow women to vote, times change...and the constitution needed to change with it. Unless you are in law enforcement, or a hunter, you don't need a gun (especially a handgun). Here's what I don't understand. People that have a gun "for personal protection" in their homes, don't advertise it on a sign in their front yard...so how would that detour a would be robber? He's just as likely to rob my gunless house, as he is yours. At least he won't find a gun in my drawer, and shoot me with it. The only thing he'll find in my drawer is a super bright tactical flashlight. It could easily blind someone for about a minute (especially in the dark). That would give me plenty of time to bash them with it. The truth is, unless you are a trained and/or licensed "expert", you're just as likely to die as the would be robber. Even worse, your loved ones could get killed in the crossfire.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Name*RicT

    talking heads and politics. Sheeesh...everyone has a cause. perhaps warranted to recognize the tragdy, not the place to discuss gun control. cant we just watch a game without being exposed to yet another opinion?

    December 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Karen

    Bob Costas obviously had strong feelings about the event. The murder/suicide were tied in with football whether the viewers want to hear his opinion or not. He is paid to give an opinion, whether it is commenting on a play or whether he likes the uniforms the cheerleaders are wearing. You may not agree with his opinion, but he made it very clear that it was HIS opinion. Remember that little thing called "free speech?" It doesn't just apply to one point of view.

    Yes, a football player could kill his girlfriend without a gun, but would he? Other weapons slow down the assailant at least somewhat. I don't advocate gun bans, but I do think that too many people have bought into some sort of mass hysteria about a need to keep numerous guns in their home to protect against some theoretical attack on our families. I had someone try to force his way into my apartment many years ago. I screamed; he ran away. I live in a less-than-desirable neighborhood now where I hear gunshots frequently. I have a gun. It is locked and put away in my closet. After nearly 30 years in my house, I have yet to have to defend myself beyond picking up the phone and calling the police. My phone is a much more effective weapon than my gun. Vigilantes are at risk of killing someone by mistake or being killed by being over confident in their ability to control a situation.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CONTROL THIS....

    Really?! Gun Control?!?

    How about the fact that he was obviously dealing with mental issues and NO ONE saw it coming. Perhaps the pressures of the spotlight caused this murder and suicide.

    If a person wants to hurt someone, or themselves there are a thousand ways to do it. If guns are not available, then they will find the next most convenient weapon.

    Talking about gun control is an obvious excuse to not address the "harder" issues that an NFL player was "troubled" and no one could do anything about it.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • warnercc

      While it is true what you say, guns make it easier to get the job done and there is nothing you can say that will change that simple fact. A person with a gun becomes 10 foot tall and bullet proof in their own mind. If a person had to resort to their fists or a knife, they would probably think twice about attacking another person, especially in this type of situation. Our laws make it too easy for someone who is not mentally stable to get a gun and once again there is no argument that will change that simple fact. Most of these so called 2nd Amendment advocates talk big, but when push comes to shove they would be hiding behind the fat woman in the theater when the wacko who just came in the back door was shooting up the place.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt

    Guns dont kill people. People with issues kill people. With guns, knives, or whatevers available. keep it to yourself Bob.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryansco

      Totally agree!

      December 3, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Matt

      Guns definitely DO kill people.

      In this ANGRY country, there are far too many guns.

      Nothing new will be said here. This is not about programming, it is about HANDGUNS which civilians do NOT NEED.

      If you argue, "Guns dont kill people, People do" you are correct.

      So why do YOU need a gun?

      December 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      That may be so, but guns sure make the killings a heck of easier than a knife or a can of drano.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jayson

      Removing guns from the hands of citizens is not going to solve the problem. Making it against the law to own a gun isn't going to stop criminals from owning one because.... why? They are already willing to break the law. Just like making areas "gun free zones". You might as well put up a sign that says "Hey, go here for a rampage, we can't defend ourselves against you.". There are too many guns out there now to go back and decide it was a bad idea for civilians to own them. At this point you're better off teach responsible gun use and safety. But that would be too much like asking people to be accountable and god forbid we would ask that. (I'm allowed to still say "god" on here right? Or have we totally banned the word yet?).

      December 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • LL

      Guns are a dangerous toy for most folks who don't wear a blue uniform or work in security. As the only developed nation with such lax laws, I welcome Costas' somewhat non-sequitur "rant" during a televised game. It won't change anything - despite Obama's "clinging to religion or guns" comment years ago being right on - but it's nice to hear someone with a short, earnest, righteous opinion offer it to a (generally) low-IQ sports audience. Might make 'em think - you never know.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      If he didn't have a gun, it's at least somewhat likely that he would have come to his senses during the act of beating her, or stabbing her, or whatever alternate method he may have chosen. We would then be looking at a case of assault instead of a murder-suicide.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    Kudos to Bob Costas and NBC for making such a bold statement. Someone needed to speak to the issue and this was a perfect time. I find it amazing how some are attacking Bob for saying this while at the same time claiming gun ownership is a Constitutional. Well, FYI, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution is Free Speech and it is much more clearly defined than the 2nd Amendment.

    Thanks again to Bob Costas and NBC for finally speaking up. It is about time this issue got a fair national forum.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Seriously?

    How embarrassing for Costas. A little homework goes a long way. I guess his pre-conceived notions about gun control kept him from learning how many times people use guns to defend their lives and the lives of their family members every day. Not to mention that whole "US Constitution" thingy. Blaming the gun is like blaming your pencil for your poor penmanship. I usually enjoy Costas but he could have saved himself from looking so stupid in front of the nation with just a little bit of fact checking. The news media still does that, right?

    December 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • bgates

      Don't look at those numbers too closely–less than 2% of shootings involve defending your person or property. If you own a gun you are much more likely to have it stolen or have an accidental shooting then you are to use it for defense. But don't let facts get in the way of your argument.

      But the point is moot. There will never be gun control. After the civil rights atrocities in the early 60's–you will never get the black population to surrender their weapons.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Seriously

      Slavery was supported by the same dudes who wrote the The Bill of Rights.

      A little thing called an, AMENDMENT, changed it.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonathanL

      It should be illegal to own an unregistered and unlicensed gun, and you should have to own liability insurance in order to carry one in public. You would need a very special license to own any kind of automatic. You should need to pass a test on how to store the gun, how to use it. Rules should not be much different than for a car. Would you want unlicensed uninsured car drivers driving around your neighborhood? How about gum chewing drunken gun slingers? When the temperature rises above 90 degrees, domestic violence rises by 10 to 15%. It is a well known statistic that guns bought for protection, are much more likely to be used (intentionally or accidentally) to shoot a relative or friend, than a burgler. One of my cousins had a 22 and accidently killed one of his friends while in the woods. Get training first, learn about the dangers. I was a hair from being shot in the head by a friend of mine once as well. Learn how to use it. Not for every trigger happy 10 year old minded thug or revolutionary wannabe, or even happy hunter.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
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