Rush Limbaugh And The Rams: Yes Or No?
Who would have thought that Rush Limbaugh would be such a polarizing force in the NFL, that even talk that he was interested in buying the St. Louis Rams, a team floundering in disarray and drowning in discontent, would string up such a hornet’s nest of activity to try and prevent him from getting membership in the exclusive club known as ownership? After all, even Jennifer Lopez is a minority owner of the Dolphins now, and what does she know about football?
At least Limbaugh is well versed, and was considered on a few occasions for a job on ABC’s Monday Night Football and was on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football before getting removed after his comment about Donovan McNabb in 2003 which was:
“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”
It would have been better than Dennis Miller’s long winded, obscure diatribes about something completely unrelated to football, which bored me to tears as a hardcore fan, and would have made the casual one try to rupture their own eardrums by stabbing a pencil through it. Just a couple examples of the fountain of wisdom that Miller was which drove fans nuts:
“Warner had more hands in his face than an OB-GYN delivering Vishnu’s triplets!”
“That field goal attempt was so far to the left it nearly decapitated Lyndon LaRouche.”
“I haven’t seen anyone rely on the ground game this much since the battle of Verdun.”
Then of course, there was this offensive gem:
“The Cowboys’ defense has more holes in it than Ronny Milsapp and Jose Feliciano after a game of lawn darts.”
Mercifully, he was let go, but Limbaugh never made it to the booth again, instead continuing with his conservative radio work that has always had him at odds with the political left. It was announced last week that Limbaugh and St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts were putting together a proposal to potentially buy the Rams from Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, the children of deceased former owner Georgia Frontiere. The other 40 percent is owned by Stan Kroenke, who owns the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. Kroenke was in the national spotlight back in May when he refused to honor a prior commitment to the WWE for Monday Night Raw while the Denver Nuggets were in the Western Conference playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers. That led to a public spat with WWE owner Vince McMahon, and for McMahon, any publicity is good publicity.
However, already Limbaugh has become a target for controversy in just the preliminary stages of looking to buy the team. Colts owner Jim Irsay, who is still reviled in Baltimore for packing the team up and leaving for Indianapolis like thieves in the night in the 1980s, has made it clear that Limbaugh would not get his vote should his bid be the one that is accepted by Rosenbloom and Rodriguez. When asked, Irsay made the following statement:
“I, myself, couldn’t even consider voting for him,” Irsay said at an owners meeting. “When there are comments that have been made that are inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive … our words do damage, and it’s something that we don’t need.”
Roger Goodell also spoke out to put distance between the NFL and Limbaugh’s comments, saying that they were “polarizing comments that we don’t think reflect accurately on the NFL or our players.”
Couple that with the fact that the head of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, has already stepped up and made it clear to his contingent that they should speak up about Limbaugh’s interest in buying the team. So far, at least seven NFL players have stated that they wouldn’t play for Limbaugh should he take over the franchise. It will be interesting to see how many others step up and echo the same sentiments, and if they would actually STICK to those beliefs if push came to shove, or if they’d pipe down, play and cash their checks. I suspect it would be the latter rather than the former, because, let’s face it, no pro athlete wants to forfeit truckloads of cash.
However, the hits for Limbaugh don’t stop coming from within the NFL. Two polarizing forces in their own rights, Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, have also made their disdain for Limbaugh known in the national media. Sharpton claimed that Limbaugh was “divisive and anti-NFL” in statements before, while Jackson made overtures that Limbaugh “made his wealth appealing to the fears of whites” by insulting blacks and other minorities relentlessly.
Now, let’s look at it from a different standpoint. The Rams are an abysmal 5-32 since the 2007 season kicked off. They haven’t won since beating Washington and Dallas back to back last season to get to 2-4. They’ve been obliterated in four of five games this season, losing those by at least 19 points, and were shut out twice. The only competitive game they had, they lost 9-7 to the anemic Redskins offense. They’re being outscored by 22.4 points a game. If that number were to hold over an entire season, they would be outscored by an astounding 358 points. Sunday will be 364 days since the Rams last tasted victory.
Now, having Jackson and Sharpton call out Limbaugh as being a fulcrum of divisive comments and racism is like the Cleveland Browns telling the Detroit Lions they suck. It’s two sides of the same coin. Whenever something like this comes up, you can almost bet on Sharpton and Jackson being mouthpieces for the cause. We saw it with Don Imus after his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, and we’ll see it time and time again.
There supposedly are six groups that submitted initial proposals to the league about interest in buying the team, including a group of two featuring prominent black businessmen. Yet, all we’ve heard is a collective throwing of Limbaugh under the bus and the wheels thumping over his hopes and dreams of owning an NFL franchise and keeping them in St. Louis. Is he controversial? Certainly. Is he opinionated? Who isn’t? Should previous statements be held against him because people don’t like what he had to say? Not from where I’m standing.
Here’s hoping that the NFL gives Limbaugh a fair shake and doesn’t toss him aside like yesterday’s news just because the court of popular opinion doesn’t agree with him. After all, there isn’t one person who is casting criticism that hasn’t been under fire for one reason or another at some point in their existence. Cut Limbaugh some slack and give him a chance to atone for what was said years ago.