Saturday, October 17, 2009

4th and Wrong: Rush Limbaugh and The Rams

Dittoheads everywhere have been thrown for a loss.

Backpedaling under unrelenting pressure, Dave Checketts,
the St. Louis Blues owner putting together a syndicate to buy
the troubled Rams franchise, finally punted - booting
Rush Limbaugh from the team's prospective ownership group.

Leading the charge up front was Roger Goodell, the
NFL Commissioner, who said he was "troubled" that
Checkett's syndicate included such a "divisive figure".
DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL Player's
Association, said that including Limbaugh in the
ownership group was a "slap in the face" to a union that is
70% African-American.

Smith went even further to say that players should
boycott St. Louis and refuse to play the Rams if Limbaugh
was permitted to remain in the ownership group.
And "piling on" were those two great pass rushers
and NFL supporters, The Revs. Jesse Jackson and
Al Sharpton, promising all sorts of problems for the NFL
if Limbaugh were to remain.

The end result for the Rams? Fourth and Wrong.

To be sure, Limbaugh has made comments over the years that
haven't helped his relationship with the NFL. He was booted
from a guest commentator's spot on ESPN after suggesting
that the Philadelphia Eagles were giving quarterback Donovan
McNabb the kid-glove treatment because they "needed a black
quarterback to look good". Hell, I can remember that at that time
the Eagles were desperate to make any quarterback "look good".

Rush's comments that a typical NFL game resembled a
gang fightbetween the Bloods and Crips without weapons
didn't help either. That one prompted Jim Irsay, the owner
of the Indianapolis Colts, to say that he could never vote for
an ownership syndicate that included Rush. And going back
over the years, Rush's many comments about blacks and
black culture have generally delighted conservatives
and infuriated liberals and progressives.

But is this sufficient reason to deny Rush the
opportunity to become an NFL owner? No.
For several reasons.

First of all, if we start denying people On Political
Grounds the opportunities to which they might
be entitled, we're setting a dangerous precedent.

That's Freedom for Me - but Not for Thee.

Even Keith Olbermann - a liberal famous for his
ad hominem attacks who also comments on NBC's
NFL broadcasts, took this line of reasoning, saying that
blackballing Rush from the NFL threatens
everyone's free speech rights. And Olbermann is right.
There are very few people in public life who haven't
said something at some time that gave offense to
someone else. Should we ban all public figures from
professional sports ownership because (horrors)
back in the day, they might have said something offensive?
I don't think so.

And I don't care if Rush Limbaugh is the second coming
of George Wallace or Theodore Bilbo on race relations.
If his money entitles him to own a part of a professional
sports team, he should be allowed to do so. Case closed.

Second, it's not as if the NFL couldn't use a little more
controversy. From the fans' perspective, one of the
great parts of the NFL experience is watching or listening
to a bonehead NFL owner saying something mean, stupid,
downright nasty or just plain wrong. That's enough to provide
sports-talk radio hosts such as Jim Rome an unending source
of great material. I love it when Romey picks apart Al Davis
or Jerry Jones for saying something stupid or
inappropriate. Think of what he could do with Rush.

Too much "corporate bland" and too little controversy
is Bad For Ratings, folks. Like it or not, controversy and
conflict attract listeners and viewers.

And Having Rush as an owner could be the best thing that
ever happened to the St. Louis Sheep - errr, I mean Rams.

Right now, the Sheep are on track to match the Detroit
Pussycats - I mean the Lions - in gridiron futility with
fifteen losses in a row. Season ticket holders are deserting
like French soldiers - and the Sheep play at home to less
than full capacity.

But Rush has the ability to change all that with a single stroke.
"Dittoheads" from all over the Midwest would buy season
tickets by the thousands. Players and coaches would be under
merciless pressure to perform, lest they be pilloried the next day
on the air. And a "boycott" ? Don't kid yourself. NFL players
and coaches are Millionaire Mercenaries. They go where the
MONEY is. And if anything, Rush is Money - one of the deepest
individual pockets in radio broadcasting today.

And the NFL's "corporate image" ? If I were Roger Goodell, I
would be afraid of Rush. If I were to fine or otherwise discipline
him for something he might say on the air, the last thing I want
is millions of "Dittoheads" tying up my switchboard, burying
me with e-mails, and burning up the talk-show lines.

That's a battle I'm never going to win. And that's why I don't want

But the greatest irony of all is that Rush is being denied the
opportunity to participate in one of the most successful
Socialist enterprises of all time.

As the Boston Globe points out, all TV revenue is shared equally
by all teams. So are a large portion of the gate receipts. The
total salary bill for each team is capped, with maximums and
minimums for each position. The draft each year is skewed
so that the teams with the poorest records get the first pick
of new talent. And the schedules are fixed so that teams with
the worst records get the easiest schedules the following year.

The NFL is all about "taking from the strong, for the benefit of
the weak". Karl Marx would have loved it.

And I really would like to know how Rush feels about that.


  1. It seems to me that all the negative vibes this blowhard (Rush Hudson Limbaugh A.KA. Jeff Christie) has been spewing over these many years has come back to blow back on his face (A classic “Blow Back”). He always tries to give off the airs that he can have anything he wants but as we all witness those with more money and more influence tossed him aside like sack of potatoes and the ultimate insult was that it was done in public (money don’t buy you everything butterball).

    Now of course he blames everyone else (Michael J. Fox, Perez Hilton, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor, Hillary Clinton, Olympia Snowe, ESPN, NFL, the media, basically people of color, the handicapped, women and gays) when of course all you have to do is listen to his show and plainly hear his daily prejudices filled sermons. So NFL, I salute you decision, job well done. And to the whaling cry baby perched on his self made pedestal, quit your whining it was your own fault. Don’t we all feel better?

  2. well said Paul. The TV talking heads who guest on MSNBC and CNN explain why Rush would be bad for the NFL but this article explains why most of that is bunk. most of their retorts were PC nonsense anyway. Sport does need controversy, conflict, and just that extra something- the extra spark. Rush provides that. If I were the NFL I would urge Rush to buy the Detroit Lions instead, because they suck, Limbaugh could buy up the hugely depressed Detroit real estate market and build a huge mansion, and finally many of the Detroit Lions players are just as black as the St. Louis Rams players. Therefore Rush Limbaugh could fulfill his dream of owning black people. Then again most NFL players are only in it for the money so they deserve to be owned by the Rush Limbaughs of the world.