In the last two days I’ve taken some new swings at my friend Bob Costas here and here. I don’t want to exaggerate or grandstand by implying that we’re close pals. But we are fellow St. Louis sports mafiosi, he has done me some nice turns, and I have great respect for his body of work. On the latter, how could I not? Even if this is prettiest-lady-in-Siberia territory, it bears repeating that Costas, in terms of communicated intelligence about the world at large, is head and shoulders above his contemporaries in sports broadcasting.
As I’ve written, right-wingers went after Costas for talking about guns in his Jovan Belcher commentary on NBC Sunday night. Meanwhile, I and some others expressed disappointment that Costas, by his emphases, had put the ever-polarized gun debate at the center of the public conversation in the Belcher postmortem, and football’s more consensus-friendly pathologies (brain injury, painkiller abuse, celebration of violence, etc.) on the margin.
In a just-concluded phone conversation, Costas explained that he believes he did no such thing. Bob doesn’t want me to quote him, but I’ll try to transcribe his train of thought faithfully, in the hope that those of us who feel more or less the same way about the excesses of football in our society can keep the right target in the cross-hairs going forward.
Sorry, bad metaphor …
In Bob’s mind, he was delivering the absolutely strongest and most responsible editorial possible at that moment of known and verified information about the Belcher-Kasandra Perkins tragedy — within the all of 60 seconds of air time he was allotted. In the ensuing 36 hours, considerably more Belcher info has surfaced, and we will be hearing what Costas has to say about it — perhaps as soon as his Thursday show on the NBC Sports cable network.
Notwithstanding the attacks on him by yahoos, Bob does not even see himself, in this context, as advocating gun control per se. Rather, he was reflecting on the gun culture so prevalent in America, perhaps especially among athletes, and perhaps especially especially among football players.
Finally, Bob points out that he explicitly concluded his commentary with an observation extraneous to the Jason Whitlock column he was quoting about guns: Costas said that in the next days “Jovan Belcher’s actions, and their possible connection to football, will be analyzed. And who knows?”
Fair enough. I think I’ve made my point and I think Bob has made his. Onward.