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Jovan Belcher Shootings: Costas Shifts Focus with ‘Careless’ Commentary

by Ben OBrien   |  December 4th, 2012 30
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Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins with the couple's infant daughter, Zoey.

Just after shooting Kasandra Perkins, 22, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, 25, knelt over his longtime girlfriend’s lifeless body and kissed her on the forehead. Belcher’s mother witnessed this conflicted goodbye in the couple’s master bathroom before her son kissed his 3-month-old daughter for the final time and fled his home in the early morning of Dec. 1, according to police reports.

Belcher, a four-year NFL veteran who was signed by Kansas City as an undrafted prospect out of Maine, then drove five miles to the Chiefs nearby practice facility, where he would encounter team personnel in the parking lot. Reports then claim Belcher held a gun to his head as several team officials, including Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, pleaded with him to put down the weapon.

“Guys, I have to do this,” he reportedly told them.

Belcher walked away from the group, knelt down behind a nearby vehicle and shot himself once in the head. He died at the scene, according to police.

Fast forward less than 48 hours after the incident. Reports swirled about this little-known player’s background, as police tried to answer questions and the Kansas City community was forced to cope with the horrific details.

The country and the sports world remained in shock over this tragic and inconceivable murder-suicide, but Bob Costas, veteran sportscaster and part of the Sunday Night Football crew on NBC, was about to adjust the national conversation.

Costas started his weekly commentary on “Football Night in America,” by lamenting the cliched reaction to such tragedy in the media world. But then, he changed his tone altogether. Have a look for yourself:

Let’s repeat that last line of Costas’ paraphrasing of Whitlock in case you missed it: “What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”

At its very core, Costas’ statements are simply lazy. It’s easy to leap carelessly into the middle of this tragedy and lob forward the anti-gun grenade. It’s become commonplace in our society. Media types like Costas seem to believe viewers are seeking affirmation instead of information in times of crisis.

What’s lost in Costas’ retelling of Whitlock’s explosive declarations is quite simply real, fact-based perspective. To make such a sweeping statement about the use of guns in a crime of this nature is to remove some of the personal responsibility from the criminal. The gun that Jovan Belcher used to commit his murder could not logically be paramount to the reasons he did it, unless there is evidence that reflects the existence of a gun in his home propelled his violent acts. I can assure you, no such evidence exists in this case. The reality remains that guns, knives, sharp objects, vehicles and physical violence are all tools that can be used to commit murder or, on the other hand, defend oneself from that violence.

As such, the question here seems to be the net effect of firearms. Anti-gun proponents will tout research that shows that family and intimate partner assaults involving firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than those that do not involve firearms. But that doesn’t take into account how many of these incidents are prevented by the presence of a gun in the supposed victim’s hands. Over the last 20 years, the number of gun owners and carry permits in the U.S. have skyrocketed and murder rates have consistently fallen. Costas surely didn’t consider any of these facts before the teleprompter started to roll.

Fact is, handguns did not cause this tragedy, and erasing them from existence would not have put Belcher back on the field on Sunday, or Perkins at home with her child.

But what’s more troubling than the message that Costas delivered is who supported it.

Let’s be clear, Costas isn’t a one-man band. He works with and for a host of editors, directors, producers, executives, and in some ways, advertisers that support the media company NBCUniversal, a joint venture between Comcast and General Electric formed in 2011. To my knowledge, his comments were not decried beforehand by his colleagues at the network, and they certainly have not been damned after the fact by advertisers and supporters of the broadcast.

When another NBC show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” was embroiled in a controversy after Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump legally went hunting in Africa, advertisers quickly responded to the public outrage by pulling their ads from the program and expressing disgust. No such luck after Costas’ rant, even though the public outcry has been pretty substantial.

Bottom line: As a journalistic organization, Costas and NBC should be ashamed. The exploration into how Belcher’s rage and anger grew into murder should not be fodder for a football halftime show only hours after the shots were fired. Nor should they ever be.

Somehow, Costas and his cohorts have managed to shift the focus in one fell swoop, and we must shift it back to Jovan Belcher, and the questions that still need answered.

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Members of the Kansas City Chiefs gather to pray with members of the Carolina Panthers one day after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and himself. (Reuters)

  • Mack Missiletoe

    This is why I do not like the media. They, for some reason, have an agenda against our right to bear arms and protect our families. They will say anything to get those who do not understand firearms to hate them. I think a lot of them just have never fired a gun and do not know proper firearm safety.

    Their focus would change if an intruder was prowling their home–especially if they had kids. Or if they read America's history! Haha! Or fought in any of the wars. Remember, Police are at least MINUTES away. If they are even able to arrive….

    I heard one leader, a Police Chief I believe, recently tell his town or city (i forgot where) that his residents need to, "Lock their doors and load their guns." He explained that they had to cut their Police force due to budget restraints. Lock your doors and load your guns… you just cannot argue with that. The anti-gun crowd would only be able to lock their doors. A club or blade would then be their weapon. I hope that's enough if a bad guy breaks in…

    A firearm is a mighty fine tool to protect oneself and others. Media thinks that Americans do not have self control. They think we are not responsible enough to own guns. A very large majority of Americans prove them wrong every day, practicing safe firearm usage and protecting their families. Heck, Police use firearms to protect themselves every days as well as protect us!

    The media needs to stop focusing on the bad and see the light. Firearms are the tools of the modern age. How we decide to use these tools is very important! There are laws to help protect us, but there will always be a bad apple in the bunch and so we use our minds and our tools to separate the bad from the good.

    • Mack Missiletoe

      I must add that I feel sad for this man and his family. He was going through something rough and if he would have just been willing to work things out instead of revert to violence… well you know.

      A very awful moment and God bless his child, friends, and family during these hard times. My Grandma recently died and I know it can be hard to accept that it happened so abruptly–especially with crazy situations such as this.

      Life is hard and it really does help to find friends and family that will love you and support you when you're down.

      We all have our hard times. If we would just support each other as Americans and realize that there will be these hard times in our lives–we will be much happier and have that peace we seek.

      • fred

        screw the media. IF the media had ANY common sence, we wouldnt have obama.

    • AvtomatiK

      Well said Mack.

  • shootbrownelk

    Costas is way off base with his "Gun Culture" comment. A mentally unbalanced person bent on murder broke into a college classroom here in Casper,Wyoming and killed his own father with a compound bow, and a knife…I guess Costas would blame the "Archery Culture" thats so rampant in America. Murderers will use whatever they can get their hands on to carry out their crimes. Costas should be fired.

  • VietVet

    This really comes down to the mental state playing football. According to his history he has tried to kill him self a number of times. Both he and his girlfriend both had hand guns and routinely practiced on the range. So Costas with out doing the research on Belcher just shot himself in the foot. The more they find out the public will know.
    It makes all of us who defend the 2nd Amendment look like gun toting wild west cowboys.

  • proudgunowner

    If Bob Costa wants to point the blame at anyone it is the media.
    This player Belcher and his girlfriend had some kind of a problem
    that they started this situation with and it left Mr. Belcher wanting to end
    his & her life.
    The gun did not do it!
    Leave our guns, our 2nd amendment and our rights alone!

  • Tracy Thorleifson

    Hmmm. I must admit, my lovely spouse and I do disagree on occasion. And yet, after nearly 30 years of wedded bliss, not one of my two dozen firearms has ever opened the gun safe from the inside, crawled out, loaded itself, and shot someone. Gee, I wonder why? Oh, wait, that's right – none of my firearms possess arms, legs, opposable thumbs, or a central nervous system. They don't do anything on their own; they just lay there in that gun safe like the inert lumps of steel they are.

    Let's put the blame where it belongs. Jovan Belcher *MURDERED* the mother of his child and then committed suicide, orphaning his baby in the process. Who knows what demons Belcher was wrestling with? But understand this very well: On that bloody Saturday morning Jovan Belcher was nothing more than a *monster* masquerading in the guise of a human being. The real tragedy is that he took a beautiful young woman along with him, but frankly, the world's a better and safer place with him not in it.

    • rdlh

      All couples argue and yet all couples do not KILL each other.
      Guns don't kill people, murderers do. I know it's corny, but it is the truth.
      Nobody wants our 2nd Amendment to stay in place more than I, but people are not always as we want them to be.
      This jerk had a screw lose and did not seek medical or mental medication for his problem, so innocent people died.
      Hope hell is hot enough for him.

  • James

    Firearms are tools, like a hammer, lathe, car, truck, cnc milling machine or a college degree.

    It is how the individual uses the tool that is the difference.

  • BJC

    The mentality of the anti gun society is ludicrous at best, to say they would still be alive if they did not have guns is delusional. Suicide can be accomplished in many different ways. The action was not caused by gun's.

    • rdlh

      Right on! BJC!

  • Lee

    No one but Belcher is responsible for this idiocy. Not football – not his poor "concussion"- nor his lousy upbringing. Especially not the gun he used. Remember OJ Simpson? His wife's murderer used a knife, as I recall. I've been divorced twice and haven't slain anyone yet. Poor Belcher? Good riddance – if he'd only shot himself first!

    • rdlh

      Many have suffered much greater than this butt head, yet not all resort to MURDER/SUICIDE.

  • Frank

    If Belcher had killed his girlfriend with a rock would Costas advocate banning all rocks from the earth?

  • Ross Walters

    I don't feel sorry for Belcher. He was a P.O.S. who shot a helpless young girl to pieces. Got her pregnant out of wedlock. Didn't care what kind of future his actions were going to subject his baby to.

    As for Costas, does the SILVERWARE make a person fat Mr. Shrimpboat?
    On that very same day in America tens of millions of gun owners didn't murder anyone.

  • old vet

    I have lived in the Kansas City area most of my life. This event shocked and saddened the entire Area. As far as a "gun culture", if there is such a thing, He was no part of it. Anyone who truly understands firearms ownership knows the responsibility it brings. Belcher had many demons, and in the end lost to them. We all share the sadness of this and should pray for the family and the baby.

  • Breeze

    Costas should stay away from his own armed security. They have guns and are dangerous. He really should be fired.

    • Neon

      That's right, Costas' security are part of the gun culture. Costas should get rid of them immediately, right? I used to like costas on sports commentary but after this ans his subsequent even stupider remarks including on O Reilly, I've got no use for him anymore. Can you imagine he said his choice would be to lay on the floor unarmed verses being armed in the Aurora movie theatre. What a coward he really is.

  • Ross Walters

    I subscribe to several magazines via Intermedia.
    Therefore I feel I have as much right to post my opinion as anybody.
    My comment posted an hour or two ago was removed for an unknown reason.
    If people (like me) who pay the bills via magazine subscriptions and buying advertised products cannot post their opinions then I guess I'll take my business elsewhere.

  • Mike

    I just wish that regular people(not celebs or media types) regardless of how they feel about guns could talk about the subject without sounding like they got the same talking points that (insert hated news show here) did the night before. We all have a bad habit of easily seeing how biased outlets are when they differ from our personal opinions but think its all perfectly reasonable when they agree with us. Fact is most reasonable people when not fueled by hype and bravado can agree with at least some of what the other side is saying especially amongst friends.It seems many of the people that have the strongest fealings on the subject for or against have formed their opinion based mostly on tv pundits who care little about reality and alot about ratings. We used to be a much more complex and reasonable people in this country back in the day when news tv still meant reporting and not just commenting.

  • Charles

    I agree with Costas, guns are dangerous, ban them all. Also get rid of all those cars and trucks. They cause to many deaths. Ban windows too, to many people falling out of them. And no more lighting fires, they are way to hot. Everybody just sit around and be miserable. And no more football either, do you know how many deaths and serious injury that sport causes?

    • rdlh

      Ban forks, spoons and salt and pepper as well. They cause fat and weight gain and high blood pressure. Don't forget the sugar, it might cause diabetes.

  • Bruce

    Costas is a liberal idiot, as is NBC as a whole.

    • rdlh

      Ban IDIOTS from sports. Costas would be on welfare!

  • Navy Vet

    Publish the advertisers for Costa's show so we can all let them how we feel. I like to vote with my wallet, it seems to cross all political lines pretty well.

  • Tommy

    Costas is the typical hypocrite, racist Liberal. He has his own armed security guards and later went on to say that 20-30 year old NFL players cannot be trusted with guns. If anyone is old enough to remember, gun control laws were originally made to keep black men from owning them. Costas should be fired, NBC and it's sponsors of BS anti-gun propaganda boycotted.

  • Starky

    Costa is typical of the current media. No matter what they say, no matter the content, they get a free ride. Never asked to explain the comment, no matter how off base or based in fantasy. It is a good thing Costa reports what he sees and relates facts, because it is evident that Costa is not able to form intelligent thought to base an opinion on. Just another dumb ass liberal running on emotion not intelligence.

  • old vet

    There has been much more on the news here in the K.C. area about this. It appears Belcher had numerous problems that some tried to help him, but he would have no part of it. In the end he was a bomb just waiting to explode. Too bad he had too take his poor girl friend with him.

  • Scott

    Last time I checked, Bob Costas has the right to speak freely. You know, the amendment that comes before the second amendment? Do I think a televised NFL game is the time and place for an anti-gun rant? Not really. Would I rather hear his rant than have my right to speak freely taken away. Absolutely.

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