Bob Costas, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and Jovan Belcher

Jovan Belcher killed himself and his 22 year old girl friend Kasandra Pehins Saturday, dying a coward’s death after committing a capital crime using a hand gun, murdering the mother of his 3-month old daughter Zoey. Pehins died the victim to domestic abuse, a story that has garnered national attention because her murderer played for the Kansas City Chiefs. A great deal has been written and said about Belcher’s heinous crime, including suggestions that American gun laws played a major role in the tragedy that has left a 3-month old baby girl without parents.

During halftime of NBC's Sunday Night Football, Bob Costas chose to lecture America about how guns played the role they did in the incident concluding, "If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today".

Costas is both right and wrong. People kill people, Belcher as is the god given right of every American had the right to buy a gun, bought a gun, murdered his girlfriend and then blew his brains out. Whatever drove Belcher to commit murder, if he was committed to ending Pehins’ life, the gun that he owned simply served its purpose, a gun in the hands of Jovan Belcher murdered another human being Saturday morning.

Sadly as second amendments advocates (the right to bear arms) have suggested there are plenty of other methods Belcher could have used to commit his crime.

In the state of Missouri no state permit is required for the purchase of rifles, shotguns or handguns. There are no state licensing requirements for the possession of a rifle, shotgun or handgun. You can buy a gun at gun stores or pawn shops located throughout the state of Missouri. Jovan Belcher didn’t have any issues finding a business to sell him a gun, the gun he used to murder another human being.

The reaction to Bob Costas fundamental right to freedom of speech discussing American gun laws on Sunday night football drew an interesting response from the media and on social media platforms:

Deadspin.com’s Sean Newell wasn’t unhappy, he wasn’t upset, he was outraged: “Bob Costas got on his phone books and condescended to a national audience about perspective—a glorified sports columnist editorialized on the Second Amendment during a fucking football game while pitting himself against those without perspective. It is so laughably out of touch it almost has to be satire.”

SI.com’s Richard Deitsch offered: “One thing is certain: I don’t think any other NBC Sports employee would have been granted the editorial freedom on such a hot-button topic.”

And Ted Nugent who once had a musical career that people paid attention too offered this on Twitter: “Hey Bob Costas we all kno that obesity is a direct result of the proliferation of spoons & forks Get a clue”

"You tune in for a football game and end up listening to Bob Costas spewing sanctimonious dreck," tweeted Herman Cain, the former GOP presidential candidate. Cain dropped out of the Republican presidential nomination process after being exposed as an adulterer.

According to his NBC bio: Bob Costas, a 19-time Emmy Award winner, and television’s most honored studio host, is the host of NBC’s “Football Night in America” studio show. Costas also serves as primetime host of NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games and co-hosts NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Costas hosts NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show alongside co-hosts Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history with six Emmy Awards.

From 1984-92, Costas hosted NBC's NFL pre-game show, "NFL on NBC." In 1996, he returned to the NFL pre-game, contributing commentaries and interviews. He also hosted the pre-game shows for Super Bowls XX, XXIII and XXVII.

Costas has won a record 14 Emmy Awards as Outstanding Sports Personality/Host in 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. He won his first Emmy for play-by-play work on his call of the 1997 World Series; and won Emmys for writing in 1988 and 1995. The latter award was for his moving tribute to the late Mickey Mantle on “NBC Nightly News.” In addition to his 18 Sports Emmy Awards, Costas’ interview program "Later with Bob Costas" won the 1993 Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series.

Did Bob Costas have a right to use Sunday Night Football as his bully pulpit to advocate for greater gun control in America – absolutely!! Bob Costas is America’s pre-eminent sports journalist, he is who everyone who works in sports media wants to be, he’s won 19 Emmy Awards – Costas not only had the right, he had an obligation to do what he did Sunday evening.

Costas has been honored as Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association a record eight times. He won first in 1985, when at 33 he became the youngest person at that time ever to win the award. He added awards in 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997 and 2000. In March 2000, Costas was named “Favorite Sportscaster” at the TV Guide Awards, based on balloting by readers of TV Guide magazine.

Costas also mentioned this during this Sunday night’s NBC football telecast: “Well, 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 their possible connection to football, will be analyzed. Who knows?"

A terrible, almost unspeakable series of events took place in Kansas City Saturday, with little if any good coming out of the murder of Kasandra Pehins by Jovan Belcher. The biggest reason Pehins has become a national news story is because Pehins was murdered by an active member of the National Football League. Belcher’s crime and subsequent suicide have offered an opportunity to talk about domestic abuse and thanks to Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock America’s gun laws. Costas and Whitlock used their freedom of speech, their right to speak and the platforms they have been afforded to create a discussion.

Sports are often referred to as the ‘sandbox of life’. The sports industry owes a debt of gratitude and thanks to both Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock for creating the debate they have regarding gun control. Maybe, just maybe someone who heard Bob Costas Sunday night decided that while owning a gun is the god given right of every American, as an American they would choose to not own a gun, and maybe a life will have been saved.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom