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. simplulo

    I could possibly tolerate a sports commentator drifting into a discussion on guns, same as a political commentator turning his attention to sports, if he were informed and had something interesting to say. It's an old problem–a respected expert in one field forgetting that he's as dumb as everybody else in other areas. Worse, his opinion was hardly nuanced.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greg Hodge

    Thanks to Bob Costas who bravely and correctly sees that American culture – sports, entertainment, values and violence – are all intertwined. The fact that some of you would only like to "watch the game", even when there is an opportunity for our country, especially our youth, to hear about something that really matters, is interesting but not surprising. Lots of Black and Brown boys are dying on our streets as a result of readily available handguns because most Americans do not see it as our national problem and shame. It is. We need hand gun control now! Ask Jordan Davis' parents. If you dont know who Jordan Davis is, you were probably too busy "watching the game"...

    December 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Badboy

    Costas should have talked about liberal control, starting with himself.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Doc

    Please everyone ... don't be mad at Costas for speaking like a complete liberal idiot ... it was clearly the fault of the microphone and camera ... so let's just ban all mics & cameras!

    For all ready to scream in support of the first amendment .., remember that the very next amendment is the 2nd one.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeanne

    I was horrified by the comments of Bob Costas, but I was most flabbergasted by "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." WHAT? Domestic violence deaths are not caused by guns...or knives...or hands...Domestic violence deaths are caused by sick individuals who feel they have the right to control another human being to the point of death. This simplistic theory is wrong in so many ways. It is just as appalling as the "you can't get pregnant if you were 'really' raped" garbage. I was absolutely disgusted that this was used as a gun-control platform. It should have been used as a platform for women (and men) currently in domestic violence situations to get the needed help.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Name*reubram

    Its easier to blame others for selfishness and lack of responcibility for or own actions. The liberal culture we have accepted or forced on us by entitlements and dependence on government hand outs take away our dignity and self respect. I was raised to respect my parents and not to disgrace my family name and don't take charity but work for what you want and live within my means. Most of all, our constitution says it best, our freedoms come from God, secular progressives hate this and deny they do. Turn away from social pervasive behavior and be responsible for your decisions.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Greene

    Bob isn't reinventing the wheel by bringing this up. In his opinion gun control is important. In my opinion I believe my right to own a gun is important. I don't agree with every rule and regulation out there in our society, but I can respect the idea that regardless of how I feel on certain issues I don't agree with stripping Freedoms others enjoy. We license people to drive a car, and in my state we do the same thing to carry a weapon. I can respect that approach. Clamping down any further than that is what I get worried about. If you don't want a gun don't own one. Let's come up with a responsible licensing system that allows the responsible to continue to carry, and regulates the ones who lose the right to do so. In the end you can't stop a person from causing harm in every instance regardless of how it is carried out. That is life and life isn't fair.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gman

    Bob Costas = TOOL

    The problem was not the gun. Take the gun out of the equation, and he would have still killed his girl-friend and himself; it would have been in another way.

    Gun control is not the answer either. What TOOLS like costas seem to think is that if we put into place very strict gun contols, all our problems will go away. I'm sure all the law abiding citizens would abide by the law, but criminals (You know. . . . the ones that don't obey the law) will sill have guns, still kill people, and still go to jail. The other truth is, even with very strict gun control, if someone wants a gun; they will find someone that will / can sell them one.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. john osbourne

    I know Bob is upset, but guns are not the issue. This guy would have found a knife, hammer or any object if a gun was "outlawed" nobody knows what a person is going to do in a emotion raged decision.

    I think Bob was wrong about the comment, and wrong to bring it up during a game.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kpwelch616

    Bless Bob Costas for having the courage to be real, even at the expense of our escapist football experience. Gun control, who needs it... Oh, just everybody, that's all.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sal

    I totally agree with Bob Costas and his comment. When are all the gun freaks going to understand that GUNS are the problem. And for you people that like comparisons, how many guns have killed people compared to people killed with knives or bats? I have guns but I don't worship them like you gun nuts! 

    December 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • R Backus

      People kill people every day with knives. Check the number of stabbings the come in to hospitals every day. There are laws about knives too. But I don't hear anyone calling for a ban every time someone is stabbed! Are guns more dangerous than knives? I don't know. A terrorist in Israel killed 7 people on a street with a knife before he was killed. A knife does not make a sound and in a crowd, before anyone knows what is happening, many people can be killed or seriously injured. He proved it. Could he have done more with a gun. Maybe, but the first shot would make people run. It is vastly more difficult to hit moving targets.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Whether its a gun, knive, car, hammer, crowbar. Do we have laws for all of these as 'weapons' - NO!!! End of story!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keenan

      Correct. Guns just make it extremely easy to kill others.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    Murder-suicide tragedy aside it's ironic that an announcer for SNF is spouting his opinion on gun control. Who does he think the audience is? Majority probably own firearms. He's got a right to his opinion but that doesn't necessarily allow him to use his job as a platform for it.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sal

    People kill people with GUNS! 

    December 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Name*STR8TALK

    It's amazing how the difference between Right and Wrong can be so vigorously debated but never addressed. Instead of looking at what caused the mental break that led to the unfortunate act. The gun was the instrument just as any other means could have been. The question is not the gun but the motivation behind using it. There was another incident in Wyoming where an individual killed several people with a crossbow. I have yet to see or hear anything about banning crossbows. As for a post I read there are people that do hunt, fish, and even garden. Most people can't see past their neighborhood Walmart I tend to believe that if Walmart shut half the population would starve. They're good people in the world and bad , when the day just so happens that Walmart closes and someone is kicking down your door and you dial 911 and find out that all the police are at Walmart. You will understand A MAN/ WOMAN
    Ill AT ALL COST PROTECT THEIR FAMILY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.O

    December 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48