“Let’s talk turkey…or chicken.”

Bob Costas certainly poked the hornet’s nest with his recent diatribe regarding the Javon Belcher murder/suicide. For those late to the party, Costas used his weekly Sunday Night Football “halftime report” segment to comment on the tragic situation that had occurred only 24 hours earlier in Kansas City.

During his 2-minute diatribe, Costas quoted/referenced/paraphrased an Op-Ed piece written by KC columnist Jason Whitlock, a sports writer who has made his bones (in part) by being provocative and edgy in his opines from a provocateur vantage point. His business is to sell papers, and his skills in creating controversy have marked his career, to his benefit and his detriment (see Jeremy Lin).

Costas, on the other hand, is the pentultimate political machine. Smug, intelligent, snarky, witty, arrogant, and the unquestioned Alpha-dog of the sports broadcasting industry. You don’t rise to the level of Bobby C by biting the hand, so “controversial” is not a word normally associated with Costas.

Two polar opposites in just about every respect, the two are now linked thanks to Costas’ use of Whitlock’s column denouncing the ownership and availability of handguns.

Poorly executed. Why? Maybe not for the reasons you expect:

  • Too soon ~ Costas (and Whitlock) had no idea what the entire story was at the time Costas spoke on Sunday night. Op-ed columnists are paid to guess and take a side, Costas is paid to facilitate an entertaining sports presentation. Failed.
  • Lightning bolt effect ~ Very few topics stir the emotions of the Americans to the level of Gun Control. Politicians distance from the topic for that very reason. To think we need Bob Costas to preach to us his verdict on the topic is just begging for controversy.
  • Chickensh*t Button ~ Bob, if you want to play the part of tough guy, use your words. Before beginning his rant, Costas made the comment that “I may as well quote the words of Jason Whitlock…” ~ he’s implying his agreement with the stance, but leaving himself a degree of separation should he need to produce a quick exit strategy. In Human Resources, we call that “having your finger on the chickensh*t button.” As one chicken said to the other, “bock bock.”

I’m indifferent to the opinion itself. I have my beliefs, you have yours, and we can leave it at that. My beef is with the mode of delivery, and with the annoyance of seeing this little man politicize my Sunday Night Football experience.

Leaders realize that the words they use have a tremendous impact on those who listen. Don’t abuse the opportunity.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be a weenie.