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. Michael Stanfill

    Here's a good question: was the gun used for the crime legally purchased and registered? If not, then it's like 90% of other gun crimes and gun control laws are not the issue. It would be the people who don't follow those laws.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vijay

      If you put into that situation (if you posses gun) you will do the same. it is that simple. If you doesn't have gun at that time, at least you will be physically abuse and then she will file divorce, that is it.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jasen

    I won't advocate that NBC should fire Costas as many on here have stated. I think he did exactly what NBC wanted him to do although he may not have been explicitly directed to do so. HOWEVER, I think the NFL has every right, and precedent, to not have him doing any other broadcasts for them. They did in fact fire Hank Williams Jr. for exercising his free speech rights several years ago, unless of course there's a difference in making conservative and liberal statements.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. keebe56

    Why does CNN have a timeline tribute to this guy who murdered his girlfriend? It comes off more like he was some sort of unsung hero who just died performing some heroic self-sacrificing deed, as opposed to him being a man who murdered his girlfriend and then committed suicide.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. swanlaketradingpost

    What a idiot what if this country was ever invaded,stick to sports people kill people not guns,and leave us proud gun owners alone Joe W

    December 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mikeytost

    Jaurez Mexico 10 to 20 people killed each day by guns.Mexico is a country with the toughest gun laws in the world.with less than 2.000 legally held guns.So explain how banning guns would ever make a difference other than the mental and bad guys haveing them?Drugs are illegal pot coke heroin speed etc but give me what you want and as an otherwise law abiding citizen i could get it for you in 24 hours .Get real

    December 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Booger

    i not belive stupid idots who can make guns go. morans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • c

      what is it you are saying? sounds like english, remotely

      December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      What?????

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

    May I convey my profound respects to you Bob Costas – for honesty that is courageous and honest in every respect. The right to own guns, like every other constitutional right, has limits and does not trump society's RIGHT to be safe and secure NOT just in their homes, but in PUBLIC PLACES like schools and football stadiums. Give Bob Costas a medal and a round of applause. It demonstrates conclusively that he is a principled human being with intelligence, guts, honesty, insight and great Compassion - Qualities utterly lacking at the NRA. The sports-jock mentality that denigrates Costa's remarks proves that it lies at the 40 IQ range of human consciousness.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian Shirley

    Bob Costas had every right to voice his opinion, even though I don't agree with him. The first amendment is held in place by the second amendment. Get rid of the second, and you will lose the first soon after. Let him voice his opinion. If you don't like it, don't watch him. If people don't watch him, he loses his job. That is how this system works.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Don

    Guns are not the problem, gang bangers and idiots are.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Baalzabarber

    Christopher...in this case the 'INSANE IDIOT" had the gun and took two lives. You need to spend some time working on your responses and less on your target practice (which probably sucks equally)

    December 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. matt

    Costas said that they would still be alive if not for guns. As if that is the only way this man could have killed his girlfriend or himself. That statement in itself is the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard. I'm not even completely against gun control for mentally and emotionally unstable, but the idea this man wouldn't have killed his girlfriend with a knife or by other means is insane. Nobody can say what would have happened if no gun was involved. The man was unstable and mental illness is the issue we should be dealing with.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Ahmen brother, I feel it was to many hits to the head from football that was altimatly responsible. Lets ban foot ball!!! I also heard of someone being beat to death with a baseball bat before so lets get rid of baseball as well.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. common sense

    Blaming the gun for Belcher's decision to murder someone and kill himself is equivalent to blaming Chevrolet for a drunk driver's actions . People look for answers in any tragedy, and want to believe that they could have stopped this if only there was a law in place. News flash, murder is illegal and Oklahoma has gun laws on the books. There's no evidence that draconian gun laws would have stopped this. Look just to the north at Chicago and Illinois. For years Chicago has had numerous and strict gun laws,which have done nothing to effect crime.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aaron

    Perhaps Costas interposing his own thoughts on air was "inappropriate," but focusing on that relatively trivial point misses the vastly more important issue: Gun Control.

    I will just address what seems to be the most common argument in this thread: "People can kill people without guns, so why bother limiting handguns?" True, humans have been slaughtering each other with knifes and clubs and their bare hands for millenia. However, the unavoidable reality is that firearms, handguns in particular, make killing vastly faster and easier. A handgun allows a moments worth of fury, a drunken split-second, turn into a murder. Beating somebody to death, or stabbing multiple innocent bystanders to death is a much more difficult proposition. When was the last time a guy wandered into a mall or an office building and stabbed a dozen people to death? Walked onto a campus and killed 20 people with a spear? ITS NEVER HAPPENS. If you TRULY aren't convinced, PLEASE look at statistics from nations with different gun control policies. What do you find? FAR FEWER MURDERS.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. notso9

    Bon Costas was way out of line with his comments. There is no certainty that had a gun not been available that the two victims would still be alive. WWE wrestler Chris Benoit took the lives of his wife and child before ending his own life without a gun. Certainly the same would have happened here. Guns don't kill people and you can't know what will happen with a person who legally owns a firearm. I believe in my right to own firearms and feel it is my right to defend myself and my family and it is not something that should be brought to debate every time a senseless tragedy such as this occurs. The gun did not cause this to happen.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. g.t.

    Costas always has controversial opinions which he says on the air. NBC don't seem to mind.
    As for people saying they turned on the game for football, must have missed the headline that one of their beloved football players shot his girlfriend then shot himself in front of his team's manager and coach. Just because it ain't pleasant and you don't agree doesn't mean you have a right not to hear it. A lot of questions need to be asked and their need to be answers. That is reality. Time to deal with it instead of acting like it never happened after 1 minute of silence. Unless of course, nobody cares as long as they are entertained.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
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