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Did Costas overstep his bounds with gun comments?

Did Costas overstep his bounds with gun comments?

NEW YORK (AP) Clearly, Bob Costas stirred up a hornet's nest Sunday with a halftime commentary about Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend (and the mother of his child) before killing himself.

On Twitter, someone posed this question: ``Who put Costas on in the middle of a football game so he could spew his one sided beliefs?'' Another tweeter sharply recommended Costas ``stick to football ... the more you talk, the dumber you sound.'' And on and on it went. The message resounded: Bob Costas, just shut up.

All from this: ``If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun,'' Costas told a TV audience of more than 20 million, ``he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.''

The reasons for the pushback were familiar when a celebrity - be it musician, sportscaster, even news anchor - bypasses what the public believes is that star's area and expounds on issues in the larger world. But as our world grows into a place where anyone with a smartphone and an Internet connection can rant far and wide, celebrities, it seems, are still held to a higher standard - or a different one - than the rest of us.

Reaction to Costas' remarks was swift, with much of it harsh, ranging from the scolding hosts of Fox News Channel's ``Fox & Friends'' the next morning to agitated sports fans typing tweets as they watched him on NBC's broadcast of the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game.

Numerous reasons were advanced for why Costas had no business weighing in on the issue of gun ownership (while others expressed their support for him).

But in an odd lapse of reasoning, many of the opinion slingers who condemned Costas blasted him for simply voicing his opinion.

Technology has leveled the playing field (so to speak) for distributing opinions and ideas to the world. Granted, most people don't have 20 million listeners at their command, as Costas did Sunday. But everyone can post a comment on any topic that, via social media, can reach a global audience.

Consumer feedback is solicited by media outlets and other organizations around the clock. A public forum for opinions that can span the world is guaranteed anyone in reach of a Wi-Fi connection.

And yet, in an era when widespread opining is deemed our basic human right, an opinion that is often leveled at others for doing so is ``You should shut up!''

With that in mind, much debate surrounding Costas' commentary has sought to tease out a distinction between acceptable opinion and opinions that are out of bounds.

It's been said that politics and religion don't mix. But the response to Costas' commentary suggests that, for many within earshot, sports are even more sacred.

By this argument, a fractious world of partisan politics and cultural clashes has no place in the football sanctuary. Sports should be a refuge from life's harsher truths, a comfort zone for a special brand of clashing between rival teams. Here, Red State/Blue State differences can take a break and unite for a red-white-and-blue brand of partisanship.

So when politics encroaches on sports, it inevitably makes some fans queasy. Or livid.

Just recall President Jimmy Carter's controversial decision that the United States would boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, two U.S. athletes raised a black-gloved fist in a black power salute during the medal ceremony. The two African-American athletes were expelled from the Games.

If Costas played politics for 90 seconds Sunday night, it was on a much reduced scale than those examples.

Yet many people ``insist that an NFL broadcast is supposedly a sacrosanct and therefore apolitical space that must remain free of `hot-button issues,''' noted David Sirota in a Salon column on Tuesday. ``But, then, in commenting on the Kansas City Chiefs murder-suicide, Costas was merely weighing in on the biggest NFL story of the day, which is exactly what he's paid to do and what typically happens during an NFL halftime show.''

Were Costas' reflections on when ``ugly reality intrudes upon our games'' really so intrusive and outrageous?

Did his status as a professional commentator really disqualify him from sharing a thought about a tragedy that millions of his fellow Americans were talking about?

Should he really lose his job? (That was an opinion voiced on Fox News Channel.)

``What I was talking about here - and I'm sorry if that wasn't clear to everybody - was a gun culture,'' Costas said in an appearance on MSNBC's ``Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell'' on Tuesday. ``I never mentioned the Second Amendment. I never used the words `gun control.' People inferred that.''

Even so, it may be that Costas crossed a line by bringing politics into his football coverage.

But it wasn't the first time a hot-button issue had been pressed in a sports broadcast. In 2003, conservative radio superstar Rush Limbaugh resigned from a brief stint on the panel of ESPN's ``Sunday NFL Countdown.'' His departure followed his race-tinged comments about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

``Sports people say they don't want any politics involved,'' Limbaugh said in a Tuesday commentary addressing the Costas affair (where he cracked ``I don't blame Bob Costas. I blame the microphone'').

Limbaugh said there had been no provision in his deal with ESPN not to bring up politics. ``But I never asked to be able to, either. It wasn't even on my mind.''

Keeping sports and politics in separate spheres may be less and less possible in a world that breeds opinions and crossbreeds its performers.

In his Salon column, David Sirota noted that boundaries are disappearing between sports, culture, entertainment and politics: ``Modern America is a place where an actor can become president, a pro wrestler can become a governor, a football player can become a congressman, and a comedian can become a U.S. senator.'' And (as he could've added) where a real estate mogul can become a TV host, political pundit and prospective presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, everyone is talking, with Costas only one among the chattering multitude. And that, of course, means there's a danger of less and less time being set aside for listening.

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EDITOR'S NOTE - Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and athttp://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

School: UCLA
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (turns 22 in Sept.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 187
Wingspan: 6-8
Max vertical: 33

2017/18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT% (2.7 3PT/6.2 3PA), 82.8 FT%
Player comparison: Darren Collison
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 23rd

5 things to know:

*Holiday played big minutes in all three seasons for the Bruins. As a junior, he broke out as an elite scorer, averaging 20.3 points while also dishing 5.8 assists per game. Holiday scored in a variety of ways, including at the free throw line where he averaged 5.8 attempts per game and knocked them down at 82.8 percent.

*He is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in this draft class based on his college numbers. He hit 42.9 percent of his shots and on 6.2 attempts per game. Holiday shot 42.2 percent from long range in his three-year college career and never shot below 41 percent in a season. He had some games where teams just couldn't stop him from long range. He made four threes or more in 13 college games. Twice he went 5-for-5 and he once made six threes against USC.

*Though he has the skillset to play off the ball as a shooting guard, his size will limit him at the NBA level. Holiday is just under 6-foot-1 in shoes and doesn't have the vertical leap to make up for it. He does, however, have a plus wingspan. At this point, Holiday seems to be solely a point guard, though as long as he's good at the position there is nothing wrong with that.

*Holiday worked out for the Wizards at Capital One Arena. He was part of their first week of predraft workouts and by all accounts had an impressive visit. He hit a lot of shots and fared well in the interview process.

*Holiday has two brothers currently in the NBA. Jrue is a former All-Star who starts at point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin is a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls. His sister-in-law, Lauren, is a former member of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards already have a point guard in John Wall, so Holiday would have no long-term path to starting. That said, he would shore up a need the Wizards have been trying to address for years.

Backup point guard has been a real void for the Wizards for most of Wall's tenure. This past season they tried out all sorts of options between Tomas Satoransky, Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson. Though Satoransky remains on the roster, the Wizards don't appear content with their depth at the position.

Holiday's ability to hit threes is very attractive to the Wizards who could conceivably play him off-the-ball alongside Wall, or even Satoransky. Given Wall (6-4) and Satoransky (6-7) are taller than most point guards, they could theoretically guard shooting guards on the other end.

Holiday would add smarts and shooting to the Wizards' bench in the short-term. In the long-term, he could help lengthen Wall's career by taking some of his workload away and also give the Wizards more options once Wall enters his 30s.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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