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. Penny Wright

    How dare anyone question Americans right to kill?

    Killing people with guns is a proud American tradition.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dawn

      You have got to be kidding right? So you think it is our tradition to kill? I think you need serious help. This was about the peoples right to bear arms. Most of them do it legally and don't intend them to be used to kill. It is those that are not in their right mind and/or gang member or those that attain them illegally that are the problem. Do not put all of us that have guns in the same category as those that use them to kill.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy Foster

      Penny, that is an ignorant comment that is of no help to either side of the issue.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • BoFo

      Dear Penny,
      And airheads like you making idiotic, juvenile remarks like yours reflect the worst in our culture.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      I'm assuming that Penny was being sarcastic here...

      December 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      What she said was true. You may not like it, but she wasn't lying.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dick Clark

    Forget about guns, the real issue is that skunk Costas is wearing on his head these days.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill Hice

    A player in the National Felons League owns a gun? Shocking!

    December 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. warriior756

    Guns are inanimate objects, their irresponsible usage is the issue. Like it or not this country was founded on guns in a revolution that removed the then legal government and replaced it by force of arms. Some say the 2nd amendment refers to police and military. But tell me if you were the drafters of the US constitution and just took over your country via revolution how much power would would you give the new government to disarm its citizens? Did you know that when England saw the revolution coming the first thing they did was attempt to disarm the civilian population. In fact every tyrant throughout history as part of the process to seize power disarmed the private citizen so they couldn't resist. If you take a hard look at it the 2nd amendment exists as the last check and balance in the constitution. Our forefathers said that when a government becomes oppressive it becomes the duty of the citizens ti change or abolish it. Well what if it doesn't want to be changed or abolished? Remember one man's traitor is another man's patriot. Do I think this will be the case here, probably not. But I think I'll still opt. to own guns.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey

    There are plenty of ways Belcher could have killed his GF or himself other than using a gun. He could have drove 120MPH down the interstate and turned into the concrete median. Pretty simple and effective. Sure, none quite as easy as a gun, but none the less, there are still pretty easy ways for a suicide driven individual to do what he wants to do.

    Yes, Gun Control can saves some lives.. maybe even Belchers in that type of scenerio. But when talking about gun control, you have to look at the broad spectrum. Even if you somehow disregard the 2nd ammendment, fact is, Guns save more lives than they cost, every year. In large part, because guns are used about 2 millions times a year in self defense or as a deterrent to criminal activity. There's a huge misconception about gun control today. Understandably, too many people, especially those who aren't familiar with guns or haven't been around them, just don't understand the full spectrum of the topic.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Geoff

    So many morons posting the cliches that if guns were not available, people would just use knives, or cars, or pointy sticks to kill each other, so therefore we don't need any gun control.

    Well, if you follow this absurd logic, then why not just make every mode of killing available to every individual? I'm sure there would be no increase in homicides (accidental or deliberate) if there were thermonuclear weapons or canisters of anthrax in cabinets in our homes!

    December 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • oregonreign

      Geoff-we have gun control.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MattAhern

    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.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mattie

    Honoring a murderer. Hooraay!

    December 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MattAhern

    Good job Costas

    December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Via Blanca

    Really Bob, during a football game, do you realize how many law-abiding, gun owning football fans you offended? Dont be an NBC politics tool, its bad enough your no athlete, but we tolorate your knowledge of sports, beyond that I could care a less what you think about anything

    December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MattAhern

    Profound respects to you Bob Costas – for honesty that is courageous and honest in every respect.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey

    Yes, Gun Control can saves some lives.. maybe even Belchers in that type of scenerio. But when talking about gun control, you have to look at the broad spectrum. Even if you somehow disregard the 2nd ammendment, fact is, Guns save more lives than they cost, every year. In large part, because guns are used about 2 millions times a year in self defense or as a deterrent to criminal activity. There's a huge misconception about gun control today. Understandably, too many people, especially those who aren't familiar with guns or haven't been around them, just don't understand the full spectrum of the topic.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Roger Smith

    I have hardly heard ANYONE say this monster MURDERED an innocent person...I have heard excuse after excuse blaming the woman, blaming guns, blaming the NFL.

    HE, and he alone, is responsible for this. Anyone intent on murder can get a gun, whether they are illegal or not, just like drug user can still get drugs though they are illegal. The gun rights of honest citizens should NOT be up for debate here, because some low-life murdered his wife and orphaned his child because he didn't want to pay child support.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. aww

    Glad Costas brought the gun debate back! Were the gun loonies thinking that they could keep killing with their weapons and no one would talk? Silencers may work on your guns, not on people who want guns banned!

    December 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MattAhern

    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.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
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