On Saturday morning, pro football linebacker Jovan Belcher allegedly shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his infant daughter, drove to the Kansas City Chiefs' training facility to thank his coach and general manager for giving him a chance at a football career, then shot himself. The Chiefs and the National Football League decided to continue with Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, drawing a strong rebuke from Kansas City sportswriter Jason Whitlock. Few fans would likely have heard about Whitlock's column on the tragedy except that on Sunday night, longtime NBC sportscaster Bob Costas quoted heavily from it during an unusual halftime editorial during the Cowboys-Eagles game.
Costas dismissed all the "mindless" sports clichés people were using to deal with the murder-suicide, then pivoted to Whitlock's point that "our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy." Costas concluded by paraphrasing the column: "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."
The Media Left at Halftime: Bob Costas pushing gun control, quoting...who else? a sports writer on ridding the country of the 2nd Amendment
— lou dobbs (@loudobbsnews) December 3, 2012
Bob Costas, who's gotten rich thanks in part to a sport that destroys men's bodies and brains, gives us a little civics lecture.
— Andy Levy (@andylevy) December 3, 2012
If responsible gun owners all thought like Bob Costas, right now they'd be calling for a ban on microphones and Just for Men gel.
— proteinwisdom (@proteinwisdom) December 3, 2012
Yes, Bob Costas, guns are the problem. Nicole Brown Simpson would be alive today if OJ hadn't shot her with that knife.
— Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon) December 3, 2012
Seriously, "was a gun the only means by which a professional athlete might have killed himself and someone else?" asks Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media. Obviously not. "Costas' remarks constitute exploitation of a tragedy in order to push a political point that Whitlock, Costas, and NBC no doubt already believed, and only used the moment to forward."
But Costas had his defenders, too:
Costas just went on Football Night in America and advocated gun control. This will be considered radical and courageous. Stranger, it is.
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) December 3, 2012
Let's have the debate on gun control -- but the pathological hatred toward anyone who dares suggest it (like Bob Costas) is sickening
— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) December 3, 2012
The arguments over gun control and whether Kansas City should have played on Sunday exist "outside of the bigger argument (sure to come) about whether any football game should ever be played," says Drew Magary at Deadspin. "The second thing I thought when this happened, right after, 'Oh God, that's awful,' was, 'Oh. Concussions.' I know I'm not the only one who went there, either." Belcher was reportedly messed up on painkillers for head injuries sustained last month, and that's all too common in the NFL. The argument over handguns will look positively civil if we decide "there's never a good time to play a football game" — but that in fact "may be true in every possible way."