ESPN analyst and Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon is applauding NBC anchor Bob Costas for talking up gun control during the halftime of Sunday’s NFL matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys.
On Monday’s broadcast of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” Wilbon said Costas was right to read portions of an editorial by writer Jason Whitlock on-air during the game, which came only two days after former Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and shot himself.
The editorial blamed America’s “gun culture” and claimed Belcher and his girlfriend would both be alive if Belcher did not have a firearm. (RELATED: Arrowhead Stadium on lockdown after player shoots himself in front of coaches)
“I was stunned at the way the Chiefs were able to gather themselves emotionally and play, and all credit to them in this tragedy,” Wilbon said. “But Bob Costas, I want to give a standing and loud ovation to Bob Costas for his stance on gun control. I don’t care who is watching this show and angry at me for bringing this up, because there is too much happy talk around sports, and this is not a happy issue. I want to applaud Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas for repeating it. And bravo for them for doing so.”
Wilbon’s co-host, Tony Kornheiser, also praised the Chiefs for their fortitude during the tragedy but avoided specifically discussing gun-control politics.
“I think it’s a terrible circumstance,” Kornheiser said. “A murder was committed. A child was orphaned. A small girl was orphaned. … I think the Chiefs handled it well. … The Chiefs did not memorialize the player. The Chiefs had a moment of silence for victims of domestic violence. The players knew Belcher and were friendly with him because he stood among them all the time. But it was best not to memorialize him in that.”
Still, though, Wilbon emphasized that Americans should be ready and willing to discuss unpleasant topics.
“Sometimes things happen, no matter whether they happen in entertainment or sports that lead to serious conversation,” Wilbon said. “If people can’t respect difference of opinion around that conversation, then we have got another additional problem on top of this. You hate to have a tragedy lead to that conversation, but it has. There is no way to get around it.”