Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; in fact, one might call it his lifeblood. He is a notorious presence on the airwaves for his outlandish comments, devised, at least in part, to keep his name in the headlines while pulling in more listeners.
This past week Limbaugh managed to make news in both the sports and political worlds when he was dropped from a group of bidders — spearheaded by sports executive Dave Checketts — who want to purchase the lowly St. Louis Rams, a football team whose days as the “Greatest Show on Turf” are long behind them.
This news was met with many sighs of relief from football players and fans alike, as everyone from National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to Reverend Al Sharpton spoke out against the possibility of Limbaugh becoming a partial owner of a professional football team.
But the question that still remains is this: why did Checketts’s group even present Limbaugh with this opportunity to begin with? Besides the fact that he has no previous experience with football whatsoever (other than the fact that he likes to talk about it), Rush Limbaugh has proven time and time again that he is, to put it mildly, racially insensitive. It’s really no surprise that his reputation wouldn’t sit well with many people in involved in professional football — a sport with a player base of more than 75 percent African-Americans.
Case in point: on the 2003 set of the television show “ESPN Countdown,” Limbaugh commented that “the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is little hope invested in [Donovan] McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve.” After a significant amount of public backlash, Limbaugh resigned from his position at ESPN.
Blatant, negative and racially-fueled commentary hasn’t ceased flowing from Limbaugh’s mouth in the past several years since that incident, eliciting continuous anger from the public and the creation of Web pages like “Top 10 Rush Limbaugh Racist Quotes.” This is a man who once said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) should “have riot rehearsal … and practice robberies,” and who two years ago likened the NFL to “a game between the Bloods and Crips, without weapons.”
That someone as unabashedly loose with racial commentary as Rush Limbaugh would want to become involved in an organization with a predominantly African-American contingency seems terribly incongruous.
Fortunately, Checketts had the sense to publically expel him from the group of bidders after it quickly became obvious how unpopular he was in NFL circles. Checketts realized that very few team owners would vote in favor of his group of bidders with Limbaugh as a member, and that it would be extremely difficult to find players who would want to come to St. Louis and play for a team that listed Limbaugh as an associate in any capacity.
New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka summed up the sentiments of many fellow athletes on this issue when he told the New York Daily News, “[Limbaugh] can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play.”
The NFL should be commended for taking swift action and expressing their misgivings on the possibility of Limbaugh becoming an owner. They moved quickly to try and nip this controversy in the bud, as they realized they couldn’t afford any more bad publicity after just starting to rid themselves of the Michael Vick dogfighting case. The league realized that having an owner with a reputation like Limbaugh’s would be detrimental to the NFL as a whole and would go against its standards for racial equality and inclusion — standards that have existed since the 1940s when, ironically enough, the then-Los Angeles Rams became the first football team to integrate.
And in case you’re wondering — it should come as no surprise — Limbaugh did have a response to being let go from the bidding group. He claimed what happened to him was the result of “blind hatred” of him by the media and “Obama’s America on full display.”
Limbaugh’s lame attempt to use the media as a scapegoat fails to acknowledge that he is implicit in the blind hatred perpetuated by the media every time he opens his mouth — and promptly inserts his foot.