Bob Costas has never been bashful about speaking his mind, whether the issue at hand is gravely serious (Jerry Sandusky) or decidedly less so (NBC’s short-lived sitcom “Animal Practice”). But during halftime of Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, the longtime NBC sportscaster took an unexpected leap into the gun control debate, making an impassioned speech about the death of Jovan Belcher that was, even by his own outspoken standards, unexpected.
Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, died Saturday by his own hand after first killing Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter. Costas used his forum on “Sunday Night Football” to adress the tragedy and to advocate for stricter gun control laws.
He began the 90-second speech by lamenting the “mindless … sports clichés” invoked in the wake of the murder-suicide, namely the idea that “something like this really puts it all in perspective.” “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,” he said. “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.”
From there, Costas turned to the issue of guns. He quoted extensively from a piece by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote that “our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy” and concluded that “if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
While Costas may not have written the words himself, the segment left little doubt about his opinions on the issue of gun control. The on-air editorial prompted immediate reaction online, with some viewers expressing support for Costas, while others, like former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, resented that he used a sports event to “spew sanctimonious dreck.”
NBC Sports did not respond to a request for comment.