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. Kitchenman

    Have you seen the despicable violent show this channel airs... as they say, keep your eyes on the right hand so you don’t see what the left is doing…

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

    And to Paul, a gun, knive, car, hammer, crowbar are tools, they are not weapons! 

    December 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamgrunge

      Depends on the gun, really. Hunting rifles, target pistols, and large-caliber hunting handguns are not designed to be weapons. However, automatics, concealable handguns, and assault weapons surely are weapons designed to kill human beings.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • R Backus

      A weapon is what I have in my hand that gives me an edge in defeating you in a confrontation! It is what ever I can get that will lay you out! Be it a pencil, a cue stick, a baseball bat, a tree limb, a knife, a bow and arrow. A WEAPON IS A WEAPON, PERIOD!! It gives the person holding it and edge if they know how to use it. And yes, it could be a firearm, any firearm, not just a pistol!

      December 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamgrunge

      Yes, they can be weapons, but that was not my point. My point was that certain things are designed to be weapons, not tools, in contradiction to what Sal said. As in, that is their primary purpose.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CWinVA

    Totally inappropriate forum for Costas to engage the issue, and shameful exploitation of a tragic situation.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Notagunnut

    OJ didn't need a gun.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bruno

    Ray Lewis and OJ Simpson didn't need a gun to KILL someone,

    December 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bryan Whitehead

    Shame on Bob Costas, using a tragedy like that to spout his personal beliefs on gun control. Costas didn't bother to mention that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the 2nd Amendment extends to the individual citizen. Shame on him and the network for allowing it.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James

    Wanna have some fun with the folks who say they must have a gun to protect their home? Offer to arm them with a paintball gun. Arm yourself with a can of Raid insect killer. Bet them $500 that they cannot find and shoot you with the paintall gun in your home, before you can fill their face with Raid. They fail, you win the bet, getting their $500, and they get a face full of Raid. The loser of the bet donates $500 to the local domestic viollence prevention program.
    Haven't had any takers on this offer from my armed friends yet.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      That's why you use a shotgun for home defense. People who think that guns kill people must also believe that a piano wrote Beethoven's symphonies and a pencil writes papers for college students. A person who wants to kill someone will always be able to do so regardless of whether or not they own a firearm.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      James is my name also. After your comment I think I'll change it now! DUH

      December 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorline

      That's just about the stupidest comment I've read on CNN. I would drop your rear before you had a chance to raise your can...then walk over and take the $500 from your lifeless hand.

      Better yet...give a thief a can of Raid and tell him the homeowner has a gun. Chances are he'd spray you and take your money. HA!

      December 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anomic Office Drone

    "Do Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock realize if an NFL linebacker wants to kill a woman he does NOT need a gun? ABSURD LOGIC"

    And yet, how many NFL players have stabbed or beaten someone to death? The NFL has a problem with gun violence, and like the rest of the country's problem with gun violence, NFL players also use handguns.

    Hit someone once is frustration, and odds are that person won't die. It's something regrettable that you can come back from, but it's something you can stop then and there.

    Shoot someone once in frustration, and that's all she wrote.

    I don't know what the solution is to the problem, but pretending there is no problem won't solve it.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      The solution isn't complicated: Get rid of hand guns. Require anyone who has one to turn them in.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      In a system with no courts, no constitution and a king, you'd be right. It would be simple.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamgrunge

      How would you get everyone to turn in their handguns? And how would everybody, particularly the ones that intend to use them to commit crimes, comply?

      December 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bill Cunnane libby Mt

    Its not the guns but the people, lack of true family values, and a corruption of moral ethics in the country that is to blame. Taking guns away from legal people is not the answer. We need judges who have a set, who will hand down tough jail time to criminals and stop pandering to them because of their race. We also need to give police more powers to arrest and take the gang members, drug dealers and domestic batterers off the streets. Keep the guns in the homes for protection and get the criminals behind bars. Start enforcing the death penalty and make more crimes covered under death penalty. Also eliminate 90% of the appeal proccess for those on death row.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jake

    There seems to be limited rational thought here. Perhaps some is needed:

    Fact: This man had a hand gun available, got mad at his girlfriend and killed her by aiming his gun and flexing his trigger finger four times, with his mother present.

    Fact: If this man did not have a gun on hand and wanted to kill his girlfriend, he would have had to employ another technique, which would have required direct contact, significantly more physical effort, some amount of thought / planning and significantly more time.

    Logical Observation: Since this man killed himself shortly after killing his girlfriend, it seems highly likely that he killed her in a heated emotional state and immediately regretted his actions, then decided he would rather die than live to deal with the ramifications of his actions.

    Logical Conclusion: If this man did not have possession of a hand gun, there is a chance he would not have ultimately killed his girlfriend and himself (although he might have). I believe that chance is very high (85% would be my wild guess). I suspect that if he had to physically assault her (rather than simply pull a trigger), and with his mother watching, he probably would have gotten ahold of himself before inflicting mortal damage.

    Fact: If this man did not have a hand gun in his possession, there is a good chance that he and his girlfriend would be alive today and their child would not be an orphan.

    If you believe that tragedies like this are worth accepting so that you can legally own a hand gun (which is statistically much more likely to cause you / your family harm than protect you), than I disrespectfully disagree. The argument for allowing legal ownership of hand guns just has no basis in moral thought.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bmb88

    You guys are missing the point. I'm not talking about one individual person who might just go for the knife if they can't get the gun. I'm talking about a huge population of people, and that statistically, taking away the most convenient way to kill someone will deter a certain percentage of those people enough to reduce the number of murders.

    Here's perhaps a better example: Imagine I'm playing blackjack, and the dealer has an up-card of 9 while I have 16. Basic strategy says that I hit, even though most of the time I'm going to bust. And I know that I will probably bust. But I take the hit anyway because I'm maximizing the percentage of times that I beat the dealer in that situation extrapolated over thousands of times. So even though all lot of the time a person might still go to another weapon to kill, we are maximizing the percentage of people that won't, by reducing the availability of guns.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Frank Dotson

    If guns kill people, then do pencils misspell words?

    December 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamgrunge

      People that are leaving these "guns don't kill people" comments are clearly missing the point. Hand grenades, rocket launchers, nukes, and flamethrowers don't kill people either. I'm not saying I'm for the prohibition of the ownership of private firearms, but I just really need to clarify that. It's such a stupid point that is totally irrelevant to this whole issue.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. phoenix86

    I don't think this was about Belcher having access to a gun as much as it is about a society that pays illiterate altletes millions of dollars to throw a ball around and consistently overlooks disruptive or quasi-psychotic behaviour on the part of glorified drop-outs and half-wits (that includes Hollywood).

    December 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. throwaway hadle

    Thing is, Costas is factually in error, as are all gun control advocates. When Great Britain enacted stricter gun control laws a few decades ago after some big mass shooting, gun violence in GB went UP! Same thing happened in Australia. When DC was forced to allow gun permits, gun violence went DOWN! There are no historical exceptions to these trends anywhere. Guns in the hand of law abiding citizens universally reduces gun violence. Them's the facts. Period.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. t2gren

    Bob,

    When that nice person breaks into your home with a gun, you can tell him that you are in favor of gun control..then he will walk out and feel so ashamed. Not really,,,,,, you and who ever is in your house will be shot and most likely dead. But you had a great feeling about yourself for your stance on gun control.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
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