Report: NFL player gun ownership allegedly at 70-80 percent

Inside linebacker Jovan Belcher #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs wathces from the sideliens during his final game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Inside linebacker Jovan Belcher #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs wathces from the sideliens during his final game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Thursday, family and friends remembered 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins at a memorial in North Texas. Perkins was the girlfriend of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed her before committing suicide shortly after.

In the aftermath of such a terrible and violent tragedy, many have raised questions about gun ownership, its consequences and domestic violence.

NBC broadcaster and sports commentator Bob Costas caused a considerable amount of discussion and controversy after he seemed to strongly advocate for stricter gun control on-air.

Costas’ original remarks aired during halftime of the network’s Sunday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. (He quoted and paraphrased extensively from sportswriter Jason Whitlock’s column on the issue)

Friday, USA Today published an extensive report that estimated NFL player gun ownership at roughly 75 percent. The reason?

Protection.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told USA Today’s David Leon Moore he puts the rate at “over 75 to 80 percent.” Another unnamed player puts it at 70.

Mike Florio of NBC’s ProFootballTalk notes that former NFL head coach Tony Dungy revealed earlier this week roughly 80 percent of his players owned guns. (Dungy’s comments were on The Dan Patrick Show, where he described how he would ask his players at the beginning of the season if they owned guns.)

Incidents involving guns and NFL players in years past don’t seem t have had an impact on player behavior — at least not according to this week’s reports.

Sean Taylor, a promising young Pro Bowl safety for the Washington Redskins, was killed by an intruder at his home in November of 2007. The incident made players more concerned about protecting themselves, according to USA TODAY’s Jim Corbett.

“Everbody has the right to protect themselves,” Steelers linebacker and gun collector James Harrison told Corbett.

Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed after he was struck during a drive-by shooting that same year.

He was the same age as Taylor — 24.

In  November 2008, then-Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh while at a night club. The incident, which led to Burress serving 20 months in prison, had a profound effect on him.

He no longer owns guns.

It’s clear that not all NFL players own guns for the same reason. Some are avid hunters. Others, such as Burress in 2008, fear they are targets for robberies and other violence.

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson had similar fears after experiencing an armed robbery at his home in 2007.

Today, the Belcher murder-suicide has brought this discussion back to the surface. Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry writes that the incident tells us more about NFL players than it does gun violence.

Former All-Pro defensive end Marcellus Wiley has committed his post-NFL life to advocating for responsible gun usage. (Wiley is also an ESPN football analyst.)

The USA Today story will lead to extensive debate about what may or may not have prevented Belcher from committing such an awful crime.

One thing that needs no debate: The Kansas City Chiefs have established a trust fund for Zoey Belcher, the three-month old daughter of Jovan and Kassandra.

No argument there.

Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj