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. Ken Margo

    @Ryan.................I'm not crazy. You have to start some where. Banning guns is only the start. We wont get rid of guns because there is too much money in guns. So we're stuck.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. R Backus

    Bob Costas was wrong, period. Check the Colorado killing just this week. A son killed his father's live in girlfriend with a knife, then traveled to a university where he shot his father with a bow and arrow and then stabbed himself! Not a FIREARM in use here! IF SOMEONE WANT TO COMMIT A MURDER, THEY WILL! You can not blame and in-animate object for the actions of a human being! Do we ban knifes, bow and arrows, baseball bats? Where do we start making people responsible for their action? I say, you commit a crime, YOU are responsible, PERIOD!!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. joe graham

    Somehow the gun caused the problem. Forget about taking ownership for ones actions, let's blames someone/SOMETHING else.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. t2gren

    @James.....you give the gun control idiots a bad name..if that is possible. Get a life, before someone uses a gun to shoot you.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. R Backus

    Think a fist fight is not dangerous? I know of two cases where blows to the head of subjects in bar fights cause the death of one of the combatants. I have seen what pool sticks can do in a bar fight. I have seen stab wounds from steak and kitchen knives in domestic disputes. Don't tell me that a person bent on killing someone need a GUN!

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

      Try holding up a corner store, performing a drive-by, or killing a movie theater full of people with a pool cue or steak knive and tell me how that works out for you.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamgrunge

      I apologize if that came off as a bit disrespectful. While I agree that a gun is not necessary to commit a crime, they are much more powerful and deadly than your alternatives. I don't agree with the complete prohibition of firearms, but gun crime is a problem, and regulation is necessary.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. t2gren

    @I grunge....you think only boys in the hood that do drive by shootings use gun....not really

    December 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamgrunge

      Pretty sure you need a gun to perform a shooting.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cliff

    Costas is so far removed from reality he doesn't know what he is talking about. The next thing you know he will tell us all the criminals will turn in their guns if gun control is enforced. Or better yet our police force can protect from all the criminals who have guns and when the gun law is enforced will have a field day taking out anyone they want. After being in law enforcement for a long time there is one sure thing I have learned the police can not protect you, but they do a great job of writing about it later. Costas should live in Chicago downtown for a while and see if he still thinks he doesn't need a gun for protection.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elated

      Let me paraphrase... Hey look guys, we made this device called a gun, and you kill stuff with it. Now it's a dangerous device, but all us honest good citizens abide by the laws and everything was cool. Now a bunch or thieves stole our guns and have killed brothers, wives and children. So the obvious intelligent decision here is not to get rid of guns for everyone and eventually weed them out of reach for even criminals, but to make more guns on top of more guns because now we really do need these guns to protect ourselves from the people who stole our old guns, remember that? Never mind that top of the list murder rate scientific mumbo jumbo that woefully compares the u.s. to other first world countries, this about freedom and America!

      December 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      a gun will not protect you if you are being mugged at gun-point; it will only get you shot

      December 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Myrtle

    All those calling for Costas head ironically are helping to prove his point and then some. Instead of a "gun culture", we could call it something approaching a "gun cult".

    December 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    I find it interesting how people forget "where we came from". Number one, "guns don't kill people...". Number two, guns do make it easier [in a ‘quick’ kind of way] to kill one's self. But, had it not been for the "right to bear arms", the United States of America most likely would not exist. For that reason particularly, a Second Amendment was made to the Constitution of America. I understand that most will NEVER understand this. I am positive that if the anti-gun lobbyists get their way, and we are ever faced with another Revolution, they will all be huddled up in a basement praying that things were "the way they used to be" instead of joining the fight (a day I never hope to see BTW). I won't go so far as to say that "killing is an American Tradition" as one has, but firearms are definitely a part of American history (and future). What we need do is talk to one another more; say "Good Morning" or ask someone how they are and genuinely mean it, regardless of gender, age, race, etc. Try it today! All said, I concur that "Bob Costas 'free speech' was paid for by high dollar sponsors."

    December 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jake

    There seems to be limited rational thought here. Let’s see if I can help get the ball rolling in the right direction…

    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 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jonathan

    I am going to assume that the NRA flunkies on here are also Christians who have read and studied the teachings of Christ. As a Christian, if you could save even a single life from the prospect of a premature violent death by giving up your right to own a gun aren't you obligated to do so? I guess pro-life sentiments don't extend to beings outside of the womb.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Jonathan, NRA flunkies? I'll say this to you. I will save a life, mine and my families and keep my guns thank you very much.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allyn

      You've got to be kidding. I'm sure many lives could be saved if we all parked our cars as many more good people are killed by cars than guns. I think I will exercise my constitutional right to bear arms AND my privilege of driving my cars. Leave Christ out of your ridiculous argument.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      You are so right. The republicans quote god every chance they get because they are "pro-life" Yet the very same people are against Healthcare reform and reasonable gun control laws. The hypocrisy is disgusting.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vance

      When are you idiots going to realize the "gun" did not do the killing?! OJ used a knife–gonna ban all those next? The 911 terrorists used planes-oooo, better ban those, too! Do you know that accidental deaths by doctors each year outnumber ALL gun related deaths (accidental, intentional–murder and suicide) COMBINED? Well, lest ye be hypocrites, better ban doctors, too....

      December 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      @Vance..................Pull your head out your AZZ. Gun violence we can do something about.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain Bob

      So, Ken, you want to switch from "gun violence" to something else, like maybe "knife violence"? Don't you realize that the weapon used is not the problem? From when time began there was violence. Early man used what weapons he could find or make. Modern man has modern weapons in the form of guns. They are very efficient but, the great thing is that they are easy to use for DEFENSE! A frail girl or old woman would not have much chance against a young, strong attacker if they were both carrying clubs or knives but give that girl a gun and she is equal to that attacker EVEN IF HE HAS A GUN. In fact, she could (with practice) be better than him and be able to successfully defend herself. If it would save one life isn't it worth it to arm good citizens with guns to defend themselves against criminals?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. R Backus

    Try and realize how that same subject had placed bombs all through his appartment and had brought bombs and smoke bomb with him to the theater. He left them in a bag outside the theater. I am not sure why he did not bring them inside, but trust me, if he HAD NO GUN, he most deffinitly would have brought them into the theater and set them off, Now you might say, Ok, I will take my chances with a bomb, but a bomb sends out thousands of pieces per bomb, plus the concussion, which can kill. They took a week to disarm his bombs. A gun, fires one projectile at a time.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RB

    Then if Belcher didn't have a gun, but killed her with a knife, Then by Costa'a thought process, Knives should have restrictions or banned.If he used a bat to kill then bats should be banned. Sounds logical to me.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark Mallard

    Despite staggering shooting death statistics America has proven extremely resistant to gun control. The prevailing attitude being that guns are enshrined in the constitution and have deep cultural significance. This is true. Guns are not the issue, it is the need for guns that plagues America. People are afraid of having their guns as taken away. And Why?
    Because guns are empowering in a very direct and visceral way. Tragically, the technology also empowers the mentally unsound to inflict great trauma to our society at large. So long as we value the power of the gun we must be prepared to share in the suffering of its misuse.

    December 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rascal Rabble

    probally testosterone/steroid supplements cause that tragedy....

    December 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
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