One day after the tragic shootings that claimed the lives of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, the NFL got back to business. There was no rest, no time to mourn, or moments to reflect, just football to be played. As the Chiefs struggled to make sense of the killings, they were taking the field against the Panthers. They ended up winning the game in what was one of the more somber afternoons in recent memory.
Justifiably, most of NFL talk circuit discussion Sunday centered around Belcher and what has actions say about the league. Is the sport too violent? Is there a culture of domestic violence in the NFL and other major sports leagues? Did a head injury cause Belcher to lose it?
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Sunday night, during the Eagles/Cowboys game, the Belcher discussion took a different turn when Bob Costas appeared in front of the camera at halftime to espouse his views on gun control and how it could have prevented the murder of Kasandra Perkins and the suicide of Jovan Belcher.
“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, '” Costas opined. “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.”
Costas' real gripe, though, was with gun control in the U.S. . To prove his point, the famed announcer borrowed heavily from a man he has vehemently disagreed with in the past, Kansas City-based sportswriter Jason Whitlock.
“"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 teenage boys bloodied 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.
The reaction to Costas' monologue came from the left and right, but there was a larger contingent who argued that political speech has no place in sports.
At Awful Announcing, Matt Yoder felt that Costas' words were better suited for “Costas Tonight” or “Rock Center.” Deadpsin's Sean Newell took a more hysterical approach to Costas' musings.
“It is so laughably out of touch it almost has to be satire,” Newell wrote.
On Twitter, the reaction was similarly seething.
“The Media Left at Halftime: Bob Costas pushing gun control, quoting...who else?..a sports writer on ridding the country of the 2nd Amendment,” television host Lou Dobbs tweeted.
There were, however, a few outspoken supporters of Costas' words. National Post sports columnist Bruce Author wrote, “‘Bob Costas just quoted Jason Whitlock, and the whole thing made perfect sense.”