On Saturday morning, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins—his girlfriend and the mother of his three-month-old daughter, Zoe—before killing himself at Arrowhead Stadium in front of his coach and general manager. Despite calls for the NFL to cancel the Chiefs’ Sunday afternoon game against the Carolina Panthers, Chiefs players voted to play; before Kansas City’s 27-21 win, the team held a moment of silence for victims of domestic violence but notably did not publicly mourn Belcher.
While CBS dropped the ball in its coverage of the shooting during Sunday’s edition of The NFL Today, NBC’s Bob Costas went out of his way during Sunday’s prime-time game to make a case for tougher gun laws. Quoting a column written by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, Costas said in the above video:
“Our current gun culture,” Whitlock wrote, “ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.”
“Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. 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.”
The Belcher murder-suicide is just the latest example of guns mixing poorly with NFL players. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s NFL Arrests Database, which includes every incident more serious than a speeding ticket since 2000, there were three gun-related arrests last offseason alone: Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil flashed a gun in a July road rage incident; Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Kiante Tripp and two others allegedly had guns with them during a July burglary; and former Detroit Lions cornerback Aaron Berry was accused, also in July, of threatening three people with a firearm.
Here are a few other notable gun-related incidents involving past or present NFL players:
- Junior Seau: The former San Diego Chargers linebacker was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Oceanside, California, house in May. The 43-year-old’s death was ruled a suicide by the San Diego County coroner.
- Plaxico Burress: In the fall of 2008, the then-New York Giants receiver accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan club with a gun that wasn’t registered in New York state.
- Marvin Harrison: The former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver was interviewed by Philadelphia police but never charged in an April 2008 shooting. Nearly two years later, GQ‘s Jason Fagone wrote a story that cast doubt on Harrison’s story.
- Tank Johnson: Police raided the house of the former Chicago Bears defensive lineman in December 2006, seizing a .44 magnum Smith & Wesson revolver, a .50 caliber Desert Eagle handgun, a .45 caliber handgun, a .308 caliber Winchester rifle, and two assault-style rifles, including a Colt AR-15 and a .223 caliber.
- Rae Carruth: The former Carolina Panthers wideout became the first active NFL player to face murder charges when, in 1999, he and three friends conspired to kill his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, and the baby she was carrying.
Also watch Chiefs’ QB Brady Quinn’s heartfelt comments about Belcher after Sunday’s game.
This post was edited to include Seau’s death.