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:



Costas declined to comment on his remarks.




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. wardawg

    Everybody saying Bob Costas should be fired, have forgotten about other constitutional rights besides the second amendment. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Don't worry, guns are not going anywhere, unless someone can remind me when the supreme court last amended the constitution due to an opinion expressed by Bob Costas.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      Where were you when they fired Hank for expressing his political opinion? Libs only think free speech applies to them.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JayVMN

    If hand gun's were illegal. A pro football player would be one of those folks that would still have one. Privaledged, connected...
    Should alcohol be illegal?
    Should forks be illegal.
    Should cars be illegal.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Evan

    I hear knives are dangerous too and are in most households... What freedoms and rights to take next? What to outlaw and regulate next? Because a few idiots decide to drink and drive or text and drive should we also outlaw every car or phone in the country? Persecute the majority for the mistakes of the minority? What Costas should have addressed was the problem and tragedy of domestic abuse in our society – not blame the tool used to commit the violence that was rooted in the mind of the individual. I am Boycotting MSNBC.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    Keep you opinions to yourself. Your reliance on Bob Costas to post anti-gun statement is now increasingly typical of the leadership at the NFL. Politically correct is unfortunatley now the norm, not only for our sad society but for the pointed and misguided direction the political policies the NFL is now attempting to force down the throats of its customers.
    Here's an idea... Handle your employees (players). As a whole they are poor kids that have made it big. You ride their coat tails for profit without resemblance of responsibility. They are not like me, they are not like the MAJORITY of America ...... How dare you attempt to push your narrow and close-minded views on good and law abiding people.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Justine

    There is a fundamental flaw in most of the arguments against Bob Costas' argument. He is not suggesting all guns should be round up and disposed off. He is not suggesting that anyone give away their guns. What he is saying is that, as a society, we should not value guns as if they are our greatest possessions. Our lives, and lives of other, are far more important than the possession of guns. You can argue that guns may help you preserve your life in some cases, but certainly not in this case and many others. Mental health should def be addressed, but so should our culture of firearms. They are not mutually exclusive topics.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. steelers1981

    Gun owners are cowards

    December 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tesla

      That's odd. I thought the willingness to stand up for yourself and take responsibility for you own defense against a threat was not cowardly. I guess I was wrong. It turns out that a woman rap3d and strangled to death by a larger, physically overpowering aggressor is braver than the woman who prevents that by utilizing a firearm. If only people could be more like those brave few who are beaten to death by multiple assailants for being in the "wrong neighborhood," instead of refusing to surrender their right to walk down any street in the U.S. unmol3sted.

      Nay, sir. I say you are the coward. Willing to cowtow to political correctness and sacrifice your natural-born duty to defend your existence. You think you can escape oblivion by bowing and scraping before a government, built of men, corruptible and fallible, telling you that you will be protected, that their laws that restrict you will also restrict those who would do you harm. Instead, you leave yourself helpless, a lost little lamb with a shepard who cares not for your existence; there are bigger, fatter sheep to look after, and your loss is acceptable.

      If that's what you want, fine. Make sure to tell me or any other law-abiding "coward" that you are far braver than us if you are ever attacked.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jaeger

    Wonder when Costas will speak out about those evil alcoholic beverages and when NBC will stop accepting ad revenue from those evil breweries.

    After all, drunk drivers kill FAR more people every year and ruin many more lives than handguns do.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jopa

      Guns actually kill 3x more people than drunk drivers, 31,000 vs 10,300 in 2011.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCheng

      "After all, drunk drivers kill FAR more people every year and ruin many more lives than handguns do."

      I'd check your data:

      Drunk driver deaths, 2010: 10,228
      Firearm deaths 2009: 31,347

      Data is from the CDC.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    A gun is just a tool. A person with bad intentions will carry out their evil using that tool or another. Quit blaming a tool for a persons behavior.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Miller Barber

    Bob Costa is the man who along with his buddies Jack Buck and Tim McCarver said nothing all the years about Steriods in baseball especially when it was guys in NYC and St. Louis who were doing it and now they are up in arms about Steriods. Talk about Mental Health not guns Bob. There are people with problems and no where to turn, that is the issue. Bob Costas thinks that won him an Emmy, he made an joke of himself once again.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    I'm glad he didn't stab her and cut his wrists, all knives would be banned ... how do I cut my steak??

    December 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cynthia woods

    He had every right to express the issue as it seems to be one of total imbalance in our society. Yes, there are many means of killing of another person but the ease and speed of killing with guns is the biggest problem. It's over in an instant and there is no time to see the fear in someone's eyes and stop what you're doing. It makes murder easy. I've never had a gun, am in my sixties and have been robbed and raped by white militia with a gun to my head and it makes me detest guns even more. I don't trust people who think guns are the answer to self defense....they need to examine their beliefs since so many are demonstrating they don't trust the God they ask to protect them. Hippocrites all. Guns are not a tool and made for killing...people or animals.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dc

    I was surprised he said it in the context of that broadcast, but it's hardly the outrage that people are making it out to be. News organizations have supported the full spectrum of political and social positions since the printing press was invented. That's why the Freedom of Press clause was put into the Constitution. A news organization holding and publishing a social viewpoint is nothing new. If you're "offended" that Costas said something you disagree with, then that's a you problem. Be mature and open-minded enough to listen to opposing viewpoints without being "outraged" and instantly shutting down. "Well, but I tuned in to watch football." Yeah, sorry you had to think about a social issue for a second. The network, through Costas, stated their position, and then they moved on, which is much more rational that the "outrage" that has followed.

    Listen, think, speak (in that order), and hope the other person does the same. Good things will happen.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. michael

    Costas is right, gun don't make us safer. What Costa is not saying there is no solution to this madness. We as a society are unable to deal with this madness. No matter what the number of innocent dead is, or the constant drip of mass murders, we as a nation can't reasonably deal with this madness. So let the carnage continue.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Are you referring to the nutball in Colorado? The one that would have been more dangerous to use his knowledge of chemistry? Yeah, I'm all for that. Ban the guns, and let that guy make bombs and chemical devices to put in movie theaters. He doesn't even have to aim with those....

      December 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tesla

      Or, we could stop limiting the freedoms of law-abiding Americans who have undergone the necessary training and licensing to possess a Concealed Carry Permit. Instead of identifying "Gun-Free Zones," (funny how criminals keep being able to bring guns into these places, despite their top of the line rent-a-cop security) perhaps we should encourage people to take an active interest in their own defense. If this gun free zone designation didn't exist, Holmes would have popped smoke, fired into the air, then been dropped by 5 or 6 CCW holders. And no, it would not have turned into a shootout.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    If OJ Simpson didn't have a knife, Nicole Brown would still be alive.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    I guess this is Costas logic – If someone is killed with a gun "ban guns'. A lady drowns her kids in the bathtub " ban bathtubs". Nichole and Ron were killed with knives "ban knives". Someone dies by a drunken driver "ban cars". Someone commits suicide by jumping off a bridge "ban bridges". Someone commits suicide by jumping off a building "ban buildings" etc... Costas should not give the impression that if there was a gun law these 2 people would still be alive. If you can't come up with a intelligent way to get through to people then you should keep your mouth shut.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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