For all the fuss over Rush Limbaugh’s attempt to buy the NFL’s St. Louis Rams franchise, you’d think he’d been torturing dogs or accidentally firing pistols in nightclubs.
Oh, wait: those are the players. All Rush Limbaugh has done is work hard for decades to build his personality and radio empire to dominate conservative talk radio. Yet, less than three months after the NFL conditionally reinstated a convicted felon, some of its associates and fans are complaining because Limbaugh wants to buy the Rams.
This group of critics includes an assortment of football players, the head of the NFL Players Association (DeMaurice Smith), and, of course, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
To listen to his opponents howl, you’d think it was the worst thing for the NFL since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl a couple of years ago.
“I know I wouldn’t want to play for him. He’s a jerk. He’s an —. What he said (about McNabb) was inappropriate and insensitive, totally off-base. He could offer me whatever he wanted, I wouldn’t play for him. … I wouldn’t play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can’t be bought." So Jets linebacker Bart Scott told the New York Daily News.
Scott’s principles, meanwhile, are so great that he once had to be restrained by a teammate from taking issue with a referee during an NFL game that just happened to be viewed by 17.5 million, making cable history. This was after he threw an official’s yellow flag into the stands protesting his unsportsmanlike conduct foul.
The Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka and Eagles’ Donovan McNabb (about whom Rush made the ‘black quarterback’ comment) also said that, though Limbaugh was free to purchase the team if he so chose, they wouldn’t play in St. Louis anytime soon.
There are about a gazillion undrafted players doing an endzone dance on hearing the news. It’s a privilege to play in the NFL, and when quality players like Kiwanuka, Scott, and McNabb get their jerseys twisted over something ridiculous, there are many talented (maybe more talented?) players waiting to take their place.
And it’s more than a little interesting that all three — McNabb, Kiwanuka, and Scott — are perfectly happy having as teammates high profile athletes indicted for crimes. Kiwanuka played with Plaxico Burress (currently in jail), McNabb plays with Michael Vick (just out of jail), and from 2002-2008, Scott was teammates with Ravens great Ray Lewis, who was indicted on double murder charges in 2000 but cleared after pleading to obstruction of justice.
So none of these folks are ones to deny, yet Rush Limbaugh — whose only crime is to be a conservative — is beyond the pale?
Rush’s longtime confidante and behind the scenes radio commander in chief, affectionately known to listeners as ‘Mr. Snerdley,’ is black. If Rush were really ‘racist,’ Mr. Snerdley wouldn’t have tolerated it for all these years. And the race card in the NFL is a tricky business, especially with owners. Real Clear Sports reminds us that Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis had several minority milestones: he hired the first Latino head coach (who won two Super Bowls), the second African American coach, and woman to be CEO of the team. But players aren’t lining up to play in Oakland.
Meanwhile, NFL Players’ Association head DeMaurice Smith is actually encouraging players speak out against Rush.
“[Sport] in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends,” Smith said in an email to the union’s executive committee and later reported on by ESPN.com. “Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."
Yes, that was exactly what Smith’s sport did when Jaguars player Brian Williams (now with the Falcons) went on a racist rant in 2008 when he was pulled over for a suspected DUI. News 4 in Jacksonville reported the officer’s notes showed Williams telling the officer, "I (expletive) your momma … I (expletive) your wife twice" and that he would do something to the officer’s daughter. He publicly apologized later.
But he was never fined by the NFL.
Of course, Smith’s crusade brought out the bottom-feeders. First, as usual, was Rev. Al Sharpton — who has built his entire career on division, discrimination, and hatred — flying to his side. In a letter reported by Politico Monday, he applauded Smith for “publicly asking that the league seek to unify, not divide, in a letter to the executive committee.”
How would a Limbaugh-owned team cause division? I fail to see why anything Limbaugh has said (or what people have wrongly accused him of saying) indicates he wouldn’t be a good NFL owner. He certainly couldn’t embarrass the 0-5 Rams any than they have been this year, or last year, or the year before that. Right now, the Rams are a marketing quagmire. Limbaugh is a sports fan — he wants a successful team. Build a successful franchise, and the players will come. There is absolutely no evidence that any player shouldn’t want to work for a Limbaugh-owned franchise.
In fact, the absurdity of the opposition to Rush owning an NFL franchise has done the unthinkable: brought Keith Olbermann to his defense. Think about this: critics of Limbaugh’s NFL bid have produced such ridiculous arguments that even Olbermann can see through them.
Olbermann called them out in his ‘Worst Persons in the World’ segment last Thursday.
“There’re now gonna be character tests for sports owners? There’ll only be three of them left,” Olbermann said. “Unless they beat the Vikings Sunday, as of next Thursday, it will have been a full year since the Rams won a game. My God, if Limbaugh wants to buy them, far be it for me to tell him he’s flushing his money down a rat hole.”
Brace yourselves: pigs may be flying, Hell may be frozen, but HUMAN EVENTS actually agrees with Keith Olbermann. We wouldn’t choose to say it the same way, but (shudder) Olbermann is right on this one.