NBC Sports host Bob Costas said it was "entirely appropriate" to exploit Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide last December to push for gun control during halftime of NBC's broadcast of "Sunday Night Football" the day after the tragedy.
"This was an entirely appropriate topic for a football broadcast to a large audience," Costas said.
In an interview with CNN's "Reliable Sources" that aired on Sunday, Costas said his only regret was that he "made an error in thinking" he "could get as much nuance" as he wanted "in a short period of time." He said it would not have been appropriate, for instance, to comment on the Newtown or Aurora tragedies.
Costas said all the other networks that televise football talked about Belcher that weekend, but conceded they "took a different tact."
Indeed, the other networks that televise the NFL did take a "different tact" and did not blatantly opine for gun control like Costas did on NBC.
Costas said he usually has at least two minutes to do his commentary but only had 90 seconds that night.
Costas also assailed what he called the country's "gun culture" and reiterated his opinion that the "country needs responsible gun control." He said Americans who want high-capacity magazines or so-called "assault weapons" are not, in his opinion, reasonably interpreting the Second Amendment.
When Howard Kurtz, the show's host, asked if Costas's December commentary was a "busted play," Costas said he "could have handled it better" and again emphasized the time constraints he had been under during the broadcast.
Here is what Costas said on December 2, 2012 during halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football":
You knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again, ‘Something like this really puts it all in perspective.’ Well 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. 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. You want some actual perspective on this? 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,” Whitlock wrote, “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 its possible connection to football), will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, (wrote Jason Whitlock) is what I believe, If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”