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. Patrish

    People that are into violent sports, aren't really interested in anything like gun control. Fell on death ears, but the rest of us who don't want to carry guns and kill people, did appreciate the comment.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • petercha

      Don't like guns? Don't buy one.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike Slimp

    Every time some crazy kills someone with a gun, the anti-gun nuts take it as their license to lobby for anti-gun legislation and further encrouchment upon all American's rights. If, in this case, he has used a knife, his hands, a club, or a feather, would the result have been any different. Hell no. Maybe we should focus on mental stability, emotionally stability, and self control, not the tools being used.

    I would think Congress has more to worry about than gun legislation. Maybe not, they do not seem to be able to get together on the debt crisis or anything else. Gun legislation or any other kind has little chance of passage in our present Congress.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    If you draw a vertical line and bisect the face of any person experiencing significant mental disorder, you will be able to observe a stark contrast from left to right. Jovan Belcher very readily demonstrates the characteristic.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Griz

    If guns should be banned because they "kill innocent people" ... then let's ban everything that "kills innocent people" ... let's pull every car off the street – that will solve all the deaths caused by DUI ... let's ban arrows and knifes – that will solve the problem of campus violence like we had this past week also ... let's ban airplane – no one will ever die in an air collision again ... and don't forget cigarettes, cheeseburgers, donuts, hot dogs, sodas, twinkees, etc ...

    Then again maybe instead of blaming objects let's actually hold individuals accountable for their actions.

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

      Personal responsibility, what a concept!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. petercha

    Don't believe in guns? Don't buy one.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Faxon

    What I want to know is whether he gets buried with that honking big diamond in his ear.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rob

    1. Costas has a right to his opinion, just as I have a right to mine. However, I believe NBC erred in allowing him to voice it on the air. I also have the right to stop watching NBC or, boycott their sponsors. (I probably won't do either since I like the products and love "Revolution")
    2. "Guns don't kill people......" Oh, you've heard that one before? Well, it's true. However, they do make it easier to kill people. Can you honestly argue that?
    3. I don't own a gun but I am a gun rights advocate. If we enforced the laws already on the books, then murders by gun would drop dramatically.
    4. The real issue here (to me) is the hero worship of professional (and college, and, even, high school) athletes. They are flawed individuals, just like you and me. This guy (Belcher) was a murderer, pure and simple. If he had not been in the NFL, then he would be villified by the press, law enforcement, the general public, everyone. I also have to question the judgement of Kasandra Perkins. No, you're right, she didn't deserve to be murdered. However, she made some choices along the way that, like it or not, contributed to this situation.

    My prayers are for 3 month old Zoe. She is the only true innocent one.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Well said. However I don't entirely buy the gun making it easier. This doesn't stand up in the macro argument. People managed to murder each other for a few thousand years before the hand gun. Furthermore, there was a time in our not too distant history where nearly every man carried a firearm or at least owned one. Today there are fewer armed citizens and considerably more murders.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickflanigan

      I believe in the rights to own guns, however the issue is we don;t have controls in place to stop people from owning too many guns, guns with assault use, or guns in the hands of nuts and people with checkered pasts. While I own a few guns, I also have no felonies, no mental health issues,and bought them all legally from a dealer after background checks, and I own 4 guns, each distinct in use. There is no reason for people to own an arsenal, or own thousands of rounds, or have clips with more than 9 rounds. If the gun lobby wants to protect the rights to own guns, they need to get the ownership of guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, because the more of these things that happen, the more Denver massacres we have, etc, the more people will knee jerk and try to shut ownership down. Instead of polarizing to the far right on guns, they need to make solutions to fix the issues and at the same time preserve ownership for responsible people in a responsible manner. i want to own my guns, but we need to stop selling guns via loopholes and to people who shouldn't have them.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Billy

    Some ignorant mook kills a girl so now we must ban guns? Pretty lame

    December 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jonas

    Costas, tell people living in the inner city plaqued with crime who live in cities with gun control if they feel safe? I escaped from there, I know. Protect your 2nd Amendement rights people from syncophants like Costas.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • petercha


      December 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andy Lavigne

    In Paris Island and Camp Geiger the Drill Instructors taught us that pistols and rifles are not going to protect us. For protection find cover. Weapons have one purpose and that is to kill. And itdooesn't care who it kills. More soldiersand Marines are killed by friendly fire than the government would have you believe. I went throught several months of training to learn from experts how to properly use rifles and pistols safely in order to kill. The companies that manufacture these weapons advertise the killing zones of the weaponry. THe don't tell you hoe to protect yourself from it. I bring this up to demonstrate how well trained experts think about "guns" versus what the NRA wants you to believe.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brimstone

    The problem isn't guns, it's Americans.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • petercha

      It's ANY human being. ANYONE can kill, not just Americans.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. spockmckoy

    IF Ted Kennedy didn't have an Oldsmobile, his girlfriend would still be alive today.........

    December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brad

    Bob Costas should be repremanded for his actions. To think that gun control would have any affect what so ever on this issue or any other gun related problem is quite frankly OBSERD!!! let me say this loud and clear... IF SOMEONE WANTS A GUN, THEY WILL ACQUIRE A GUN NO MATTER WHAT THE LAW STATES. Normal law obiding citizens are not the problem and should NOT be pressumed quilty prior to any tragic event taking place. He could have strangled her, stabbed her, hung her or anything else he could have thought up. Bob Costas is a representative of NBC and I hold both responsible for his actions. You want less gun related tragedies, then place a gun in every law obiding citizens home and I gaurentee less Break ins and less victim deaths. If you make the choice to break in my house, I'll make the choice to put two in your chest!!

    December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BMc6

    If the gentleman at the gaas station in Florida hadn't had a gun, that young man would be aliive today. The fact that he did have a gun gave him this false sense of confidence that allowed him to think that he should go up to a total stranger and demand that they turn down their music...or I'll shoot!
    If he didn't have that gun, he probably would have stayed at his car and would have put up with the loud music, or he may have found a nicer way to "request" that they lower their music.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuckt

      The redneck would have probably pulled his shotgun instead. No handgun law will stop people from killing each other. We'll just have more criminals kill more innocent people. Hey, look at all the guns we gave away to the mexican cartel. I know it's too simple for some people living in the prefect neighborhood to think why does anyone need a gun. Costas doesn't need a gun because of his little protected world. People kill people and they don't need guns to do it. The girlfriend and himself would still be dead today.....see OJ Simpson....

      December 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. joe

    Sure, we need controls on guns because they're dangerous weapons, but this ball player had serious mental issues most likely caused or made worse by his livelihood........Football. Bob Costas is no worse than any of the other hypocrites out here, trying to shift attention away from his own moneymaking career as a sports announcer and the likely cause of this player's problem.........sports impact injuries. Bob could have been responsible for a change and announced that we need to address the problems and causes of mental illness in this country but no..........he chose the easy route as usual and went with the money.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuckt

      Sorry Joe, The man was just unstable and had nothing to do with head injuries. The only thing every proven to cause issues is steroids. Hopefully he was not using them at the time. Other than that he was just an angry man that did not know how to handle his emotions. Even Junior Seau had no proven head trma from his autopsy. Unfortunatly there are disturb people in all walks of life and people play football. We need to stop trying to blame everything and just blame the man that pulled the trigger. He had access to everything and made the wrong choice.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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