by David Bauder
NEW YORK (AP) — Bob Costas’ “Sunday Night Football” halftime commentary supporting gun control sparked a Fox News Channel debate Monday on whether NBC should fire him and a Twitter storm involving Ted Nugent, Rosie O’Donnell, Herman Cain and many more.
The NBC sportscaster, who frequently delivers commentary at halftime of the weekly NFL showcase, addressed the weekend’s murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.
Costas said that the shooting has invoked the “mindless sports cliche” that “something like this really puts it all in perspective.”
“Please,” he said. “Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.”
He then paraphrased and quoted extensively from a piece by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock. Costas said: “In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their 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.”
Belcher shot and killed Perkins, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, on Saturday morning, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in the parking lot of the team’s practice facility.
Quickly, Costas’ comments renewed one of society’s most contentious debates, made more intense by people who believe that a football halftime show was not the right place for Costas to be speaking on the issue.
“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.
Above a headline “Advocacy Gone Awry?” the hosts of Fox’s morning show “Fox & Friends” read letters from viewers criticizing Costas’ stance. On Megyn Kelly’s afternoon show, there was a debate on whether Costas should be fired.
Rock star and gun advocate Nugent was quick to criticize via Twitter: “Hey Bob Costas we all kno (sic) that obesity is a direct result of the proliferation of spoons and forks. Get a clue.”
Former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, however, tweeted “way to go, Bob Costas.” His former NBC colleague, Keith Olbermann, observed that it was “amazing that all those ripping my friend Bob Costas would, had he taken opposing view, be defending him for using the 1st.”
There was no immediate comment on Monday from NBC Sports or from Costas.
Before the Olympics this summer, Costas criticized the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to hold a moment of silence to mark the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian gunmen in Munich in 1972. But he stopped short of repeating that criticism on the air.