Scott M. Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas says it was a "mistake" to mention gun control on air Sunday in discussing the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher because his choice of words "left it open for too much miscommunication."
Costas, who appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, has been criticized in some quarters for his choice of words about the tragedy during his halftime segment of the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
Costas, during that halftime, quoted columnist Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock and said, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.''
The 90-second clip led to viral YouTube videos and blog posts with angry comments demanding Costas be fired from NBC. Costas addressed those comments in talking Tuesday to Patrick, who hosts the studio show for Sunday Night Football on NBC.
"Sometimes the quality of those who oppose you speaks for itself," Costas said. "I was told -- I didn't see it -- that someone compared (the halftime segment) to blatantly racist comments. This is simply a case of people who don't agree with this or they don't agree with what people think I was saying.
"Leave me out of it. Can you imagine that being said about anyone? Let's fire everyone we disagree with. It's absurd."
Costas felt he didn't "hijack" an NFL game by using his platform to provide his thoughts.
"If someone writes something that people disagree with, no matter how well it was written, if the topic is emotional, people are apt to be described as a screed," Costas told Patrick. "Someone (who) disagrees will characterize it as a rant."
While Costas was clarifying himself Tuesday, he caught himself using a poor choice of words and quickly acknowledged it.
"If I had gone on and said something at those who are taking shots at me. (Pause). Poor choice of words there. At those who are ripping me agreed with, I sincerely doubt any would have said I agree 100 % with Costas. '(He had) right-on-money comments, but it's not his right to do it at half of a football game.' "
Costas also said the main reason he believes his comments were blown out of proportion was because he didn't have enough time. He preferred to have a more in-depth discussion when touching on such a tragic incident.
"A discussion should ensue about the football culture, the gun culture, domestic violence ... those issues should be discussed if we're looking for some kind of elusive perspective," he said Tuesday.
Patrick asked Costas for his exact stance on gun control. Costas obliged:
"Here's where I stand: I do not want to see the second amendment repealed. ... People should be allowed to own guns for their own protection. Obviously, those who are hunters. ... Access to guns is too easy in some cases. I don't see any reason a citizen should be able to arm himself in some states in ways only police or military should -- to have a virtual militia (bought by) mail order or gun shows. Why do you need a semi automatic weapon? What possible use is there? ... Whitlock wrote about a gun culture. That's what I was focusing on (in the halftime segment)."
Even after the clarification, Patrick told Costas he thought his Sunday segment was too "heavy."
Costas raised the Aurora (Colo.) shootings at the movie theater at the end of his explanation.
"There are those who believe that denying a semi automatic weapon or an assault rifle is the first step down a slippery slope in denying an old lady a gun for her own protection," Costas said Tuesday. "There are people who honestly believe that in Aurora (Colo.) if only a dozen or so people there to watch the Batman movie had been packin', they would have been able to take down the nut job in full body armor with military-type guns.
"I think any police officer if you told them that would roll their eyes."