“If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today,’” Bob Costas, of NBC, said in a halftime commentary on “Sunday Night Football.” Costas was, as he noted, quoting, or slightly paraphrasing, Jason Whitlock, a columnist based in Kansas City, “with whom I do not always agree, but who today said it so well.” Kansas City was where Belcher played for the Chiefs football team, and where he shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, in front of their baby daughter and his mother. The gun he used to murder her was legal, as was a second one that he used to shoot and kill himself after driving to the Chiefs’ training facility—and so too were yet more guns that were apparently in their house.
For his commentary, which lasted about a minute and a half, Costas has been subjected to attacks and insults and calls that he be fired. In other circles, he has, properly, been praised, for what was one of the only forthright looks at what had happened during the coverage of Sunday’s games. Mainly, though, he had to contend with vitriol and nervousness about whether halftime was really the right moment. He and NBC issued statements assuring everyone that he was behind the Second Amendment, and just wanted some sensible guidelines and a change in the culture. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Costas wondered if he had made “a mistake” in trying to address the issue in such a short time, leaving his words “open to too much interpretation.” He pointed out that he’d said there would be other subjects to cover, too, including, “The possible connection between football and this particular tragedy”—meaning not only the habits of a violent game and the distorting effects of money and fame, but the effects of concussions.