NBC Sports' Bob Costas took an unusual political stand during "Sunday Night Football" a day after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and himself.
Belcher, 25, shot and killed the 22-year-old Perkins Saturday before driving to a stadium parking lot, where he shot himself in front of two coaches and the team's general manager.
"Sunday Night Football" is usually a politics-free zone, but Costas read from a column by Kansas City-based FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, who said the availability of handguns amplifies small conflicts into deadly ones.
Gun control opponents did not welcome the political discussion during television's most-watched show, and took to blog posts to argue that more gun laws wouldn't prevent killings, and that Costas was wrong to raise the debate during halftime.
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"You want some actual perspective on this?" Costas said. "Well, a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree, but who today said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article."
"Our current gun culture," Costas read from Whitlock's post, "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. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions, and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows?"
"But here," Costas continued, still paraphrasing Whitlock," is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
Whitock's post argued that the Chiefs should not have played Sunday, hours after the deaths. But he said peoples' sense of football's importance had been absurdly overblown.
"Football is our God," Whitlock wrote. "Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There’s just no way this game should be played."