Posted on December 5, 2012
I like Bob Costas. I like how he presents himself. I actually got a chance to meet him on the set of a show we did together, and he came across as a very reasonable, slightly conservative, well put-together guy. He is also a sports nut, who could tell you the lineup of the 1964 Cardinals.
I like sports, but I couldn’t remember the lineup of my favorite team of all time, the South Side Hit Men , who almost won the pennant in 1977. I could get a few of them, but my memory is not good enough to recite the whole line-up.
Bob Costas stepped in it the other day when he talked about gun control at the half time of the Sunday Night Football game. He pissed off a lot of conservatives, who found it completely inappropriate to mix politics and sports.
I am going to defend Bob’s right to say what he said, while disagreeing completely with his premise and his conclusions.
I am a little squishy on guns. For example, I don’t think certifiably crazy people should have access to guns. But I still support the Second Amendment, and I think the American people have an inalienable right to defend themselves.
I also am a big supporter of the First Amendment, which is why I think Costas has a right to talk politics in a middle of a football game. But he was wrong in his conclusions about what caused the death of Jovan Belcher.
Guns are part of the National Football League, as they are in most sports leagues and with many celebrities. Many of these “stars” have guns to protect themselves against crazy people and evil people who aren’t so crazy.
Sean Taylor, the former Redskins star, was murdered in his home by a gang of thugs. They wanted money and who knows what else.
Taylor had a gun, but didn’t have the opportunity to use it.
Many professional athletes come from neighborhoods where guns were a constant presence in their lives. Sometimes, they can escape the hood. Oftentimes, the hood stays with them.
The bigger issue with Jovan Belcher was not the fact that he had a gun. It was the fact that he was mentally unstable and that the NFL wasn’t there to support him.
Costas didn’t dwell on football’s essential role in this tragedy.
Belcher suffered physically and mentally because of injuries he sustained as a professional football player. I don’t know if steroids played any role, but my guess is that they did. The fact that he was on all kinds of other drugs speaks to a culture that inspires violence and extreme behavior.
Costas didn’t mention that in his screed on guns.
Guns didn’t cause this tragedy. Football did. Costas, who has spoken out courageously on the chronic problem of repeated head trauma in the NFL in the past, should have used his bully pulpit to talk about football’s larger problem with its violent culture, rather than focus on one slender aspect of the murder/suicide.