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:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JohnKincade/status/275435630157262848%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/JohnKincade/status/275435941114572802%5D

Costas declined to comment on his remarks.

[tweet https://twitter.com/rkahne/status/275434984544825345%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/BillJCHien/status/275485483587497984%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/audsnyder4/status/275435226983981056%5D

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. geraldh

    And if he had strangled his gf we would probably be having a discussion about hand control. I don't think he needed a gun to kill her. If he wanted to do it he would have found a way. Do we ban knives also.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EN

    There is no way that a young woman can defend herself against an NFL linebacker intent upon murdering her, regardless of whether the linebacker is armed. UNLESS, of course, the young woman is armed. It's a pity she wasn't.

    Costas has it completely backward. The reason Belcher was able to murder Kasandra Perkins isn't that he had a gun; it's that SHE DIDN'T.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. numbnut

    One issue I have is people with mental illnesses, diagnosed or undiagnosed, can get guns. My spouse suffers from depression and was able to get a gun with no problem here in Florida. But then again...key word here is FLORIDA.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Myrtle

    Where was anything said about gun control? There wasn't. The term Costas quoted was "gun culture". Wrap your head around that, if you can, as there is a crucial difference.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Donnie in TN

    Bob Costa is an idiot. This guy could have killed her with his bare hands. This was not the time or the place for him to make a political statement or rant about his own beliefs.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jokesterer

    Don't nag a 250lb linebacker. Just don't.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Name*david smith

    As tragic as this situation is, there is a time and place for each and every discussion. No one knows what the young man would have done had he not had a hand gun. If his state of mind was that he was going to resolve this with violence, who is to say he would not have carried it out some other way. Half time of a football game is not the place for Bob Costas to air his opinion.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason Kerry

    Costa's is an illogical idiot. Using his logic, we should ban cars. After all, they kill 50,000 americans a year.
    Cars are the deadliest things out there. Nothing is more likely to kill your child, than a parent driving their own child around in their car. We should ban parents driving kids around right, at the very least, right?

    Blaming inanimate objects for someones death only proves you have a below average intellect. It entirely misses the point, which prevents having the conversation we really should be having. What causes him to decide to kill his girlfriend?
    A pro football player can kill a woman with his bare hands, easily. Oh, you want to ban football players now Bob? Moron.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dhondi

    What a sad bunch of chimps we are, blaming inanimate objects for our own faults.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • numbnut

      We are a sad bunch of chimps especially when we care more about owning guns then our own healthcare.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Moogly

    First OJ Simpson now this. We don't need to control guns, we need to control football players.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetReal

      So this black player that had it all decides to throw it all away with murder and suicide? What does this have to do with guns? THis was obviously a very sick man. A true coward to do what he did. Control the players better.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Yes, luckily we never see non-football players using hand guns to kill in this country. Oh wait, no...that's just in every other western society. For some reason, the right-wing continues to insist that needless deaths are better than rational laws. Go NRA!

      December 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Take

    Does anyone realize that deadly crimes are committed by people without guns all the time that the media doesn't hype up for political purposes. Of course not most people are headline informed only.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • TX Red

      Did you know that even if you ignored the number of firearm related homicides in the US, we would still have a higher per capita murder rate than any other Western European country?

      The fact that gun related homicides are almost double the number of all other homicides in this country is something worth noting.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Name* S dog

    Just like how Costas is entitled to his opinion, you are entitled to change the channel. Seriously, cry about it. Maybe that will make you feel better.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Vinny

    I don't get it, we do have gun control. Can you just walk in to a gun store and buy a handgun without a permit? Have you ever gone through the process of obtaining a permit? It's not an easy process and can take months. That guy in Wyoming just killed a woman by stabbing her to death and his father with a bow and arrow, you don't need a permit for either of those and can walk right into Dick's and buy either whenever you like. And this guy applied for a gun permit in CT. and it was being processed and there's nothing so far that would have prevented him from getting it, he just couldn't wait to kill so he found another way. It's not the gun it's the person. Javon Belcher shot his girlfriend 9 times, if he didn't have the gun he would have stabbed her dozens of times, he was going to kill her no matter what.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jerry Pelletier

    Let see...I've noticed that where we have the strictest gun control laws is also where we have the most gun violence...
    I think I'll add to my collection!

    December 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • PF

      You literally just made that up... There are exceptions but the reality is typically the opposite.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KimH

    Let's be honest. He probably outweighed her at least 2.5 to 1. When he decided she was going to die, method made little difference. He also could have crashed his car afterward. The man was mentally unhinged. Period. Put the blame where it belongs. Inanimate objects rarely kill on their own volition...get it?

    December 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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