Sunday Night Football

One day after NFL player Jovan Belcher murdered the mother of his 3-month-old daughter and took his own life in the parking lot of the team’s practice facility, his Kansas City Chiefs took the field to play the Carolina Panthers, winning 27-21. Clearly, though, the mourning team’s victory was not the main story, as teammates, fans, and the media tried to make sense of the tragedy.

It was so awful that Bob Costas used his powerful perch during halftime of NBC’s primetime broadcast last night to bring attention to a gun-culture that he says makes such tragedies all too common. Quoting Kansas City-based sportswriter Jason Whitlock’s Saturday-night column, he said, “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. … If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Watch it below:

As you can guess, his commentary was closely scrutinized, and while some applauded his effort, many criticized him for broaching a politically taboo subject in the midst of Sunday Night Football. Second-Amendment advocates like Fox News’ John Lott dismissed Costas for his “emotional reaction,” and media-watcher Howard Kurtz said, “If Bob Costas wanted to urge gun control during NFL, he should have made his own case, not quoted a columnist.” In less decorous language, Deadspin’s Sean Newell called it a “sanctimonious horsesh-t” editorial that was “so laughably out of touch it almost has to be satire.”

Costas prefaced his own remarks by saying he didn’t always agree with Whitlock, and it should be noted that one of the main thrusts of Whitlock’s argument was that the NFL was callous and money-grubbing to force the Chiefs to prepare for a game mere hours after a teammate shot himself in a murder-suicide. But it’s one thing to challenge gun-owners; it’s another to cross the National Football League.

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