Rush Limbaugh and the National Football League

Rush Limbaugh is part of a group including Dave Checketts that is trying to purchase the St. Louis Rams.

As expected, the leftinistras are protesting. After all, that is what leftinistras do.

This is a business deal. Like any other business deal, it should be looked at through a cold business lens. Emotion and feelings should be banned from the discussion. Before getting to the 800 pound gorilla in the room, let’s get the easy items on the checklist out of the way.

Unlike other sports leagues, the NFL has strict rules on ownership. The league is a tightly knit fraternity of 32 people, and it does not want their teams to be one toy in some individuals playroom. They want their teams to be the prized jewel of the owners’ collection of wealth. Additionally the league does not allow corporate ownership, and it severely restricts cross ownership. This is good, because we all saw what Disney did when it owned the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League.

Now Mr. Limbaugh is a controversial individual, and many people dislike him. Some of these people know absolutely nothing about football. They can sit down and shut up. They don’t matter. This is a discussion about whether a man should own a football team. Mr. Limbaugh is not the main aspect of this. Football is.  If Mr. Limbaugh wants to own a pizza place, those with zero knowledge of the pizza industry as producers or consumers have nothing to say.

The first question that needs to be asked is whether or not Mr. Limbaugh has the financial ability to be an NFL Owner. Sorry to disappoint the political animals, but the bean counters, those cold unemotional people who simply do their jobs and count the beans, would say that he does. He and Mr. Checketts have the money.

The next question is just as vital, if not even more important. Does he know anything about football?

Absolutely he does. He played football in high school, and is an avid NFL fan. He frequently discusses football on his radio program. He is not the “barfly” that spouts nonsense but does not know the players or the teams or the history. Even those who disagree with Limbaugh will concede that he has more than a rudimentary working knowledge of the game of football itself.

(My mother once asked why the players can’t just share the ball. She is not qualified to run a football team.)

This knowledge matters because when somebody is passionate about what they own, they try to take better care of it over time. When Carroll Rosenbloom owned the Los Angeles Rams, they were winners. When he drowned in his swimming pool under “suspicious circumstances,” his wife Georgia Frontiere took over the team. She simply did not have her husband’s knowledge base.

(The feminists can shut up in advance. This is not about gender. Research her specific background before deciding that I am attacking an entire yammering Ya-Ya sisterhood.)

Many of the NFL owners have owned their teams for almost half a century. Ralph Wilson, Al Davis, and Bud Adams are three owners that eat, sleep, and breathe football. Jerry Jones has owned his team for “only” 20 years. While he made his money in oil, he played football in college. Therefore, when somebody such as an Arthur Blank, who made his money owning Home Depot, takes over, there is and should be additional scrutiny.

That brings us to the issue of business sense. Does Limbaugh have what it takes to successfully run a business?

Again, to say otherwise is laughable. He is a self made millionaire many times over.

Now let’s get to the 200 baby gorilla before getting to its 800 pound parent.

Limbaugh is political. Should this in itself disqualify him?

Of course not. The issue becomes whether or not he would let his politics affect his ownership.

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, despite personally telling me otherwise when I met him, is seen by many as a hard leftist. At no time has their been any evidence that this has affected anything on the court with the Dallas Mavericks specifically or the NBA in general.

Sports people are human beings, and they have a right to their political activities. It just cannot affect the workplace. Jacksonville Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio has appeared at rallies and spoken on behalf of Sarah Palin. Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson both did commercials for Bill Bradley.

The closest any owner came to political speech mixing with the sport was when Dan Rooney (ironically the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Limbaugh’s favorite team) thanked Barack Obama and praised him after they won the Super Bowl. It was over the top.

One great example of football, entertainment, and politics came in the form of singer Jon Bon Jovi. He wanted to buy an Arena Football League team, the Philadelphia Soul. He was grilled relentlessly, and the other owners were convinced that he knew football. Like me, he is an NFL junkie. He is also very politically liberal. Yet at his concerts, he sticks to music. He held fundraisers for John Kerry, but not at his concerts. He kept his politics separate from his sports and his workplace.

Donald Trump in the 1980s owned the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. Trump is a moderate Republican, but he left his politics out of his ownership, and his real estate empire.

Limbaugh is slightly different because his politics at the moment is his workplace.

If Limbaugh were approved, he would have to follow the NFL guidelines regarding political activity. These guidelines would be no more lenient or stringent than for anyone else associated with the NFL.

One issue where this comes up is the issue of stadiums. The National Football League in the 1990s declared Coca Cola the official beverage of the NFL. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones had a big Pepsi deal at Texas stadium. The league was not happy about this. Jerry Jones as the owner of the Cowboys could not do this, but Jerry Jones the owner of Texas Stadium could. Loopholes like this have to be dealt with since some owners also own the stadiums their team plays in while some do not.

One last semi-minor issue to address deal with the concept of ownership. Greta Van Susteren is a proud owner of one share of stock in the Green Bay Packers. SHe is an owner, but she does not have any management control.

Limbaugh is putting together the group to buy the Rams with Dave Checketts. Would Limbaugh be the majority owner or the minority owner. Would he have a managerial role? Or would he just have a really nice owner’s box to watch the games in? Will he have any say in drafting players or working the salary cap?

Let’s assume he will have a managerial role of some sort, since otherwise this entire discussion is irrelevant. Those criticizing him for just owning a part of the team are the same people boycotting every single product that he ever endorses, from Florida oranges to anything else. The Pediatric AIDS Foundation once refused to let him film a commercial to raise money for children dying of AIDS. This is ridiculous.

Limbaugh’s politics should not disqualify him, although he should not be allowed to broadcast his show from the stadium on game day. If he owns the stadium, he could hold political events there, but not with any NFL or Rams paraphernalia connected to the event.

Now on to the 800 pound gorilla.

It is not just that Limbaugh is a conservative. It is that many on the left think that Limbaugh is a racist.

Now many on the left think that every conservative that exists and breathes air is a racist, sexist, bigoted homophobe. Often the charges are ludicrous and poisonous. Many have attributed comments to Limbaugh that he never said, and they can’t prove.

However, one specific incident does exist that must be analyzed.

During his brief stint as an ESPN NFL analyst, Limbaugh referred to Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb as “Overrated.” He also stated that the league propped up McNabb because they “wanted to see a black quarterback do well.”

The problem with this statement is not that it is racist. The problem, which I have said many times over the years, is that on this issue, Limbaugh was just wrong.

There are many people in society that are so obsessed with diversity and muticulturalism that qualifications take a back seat. This is how the New York Times became the Jayson Blair Times. This is also how Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize. Guilty white liberals wanted to feel good about themselves, so they inflated certain Americans above their true worth because they were black and liberal.

Limbaugh has often been called a racist when the truth is he is anti-liberal. Most blacks happen to be liberals. He gets along fine with black conservatives.

Yet the reason why his comments about Donovan McNabb fell flat with me is based on two factors. First of all, the NFL is the epitome of a meritocracy. Anybody who thinks that the league is willing to prop up black quarterbacks for some social engineering project does not remember how quickly Akili Smith was drummed out of the league. Kordell Stewart was run out of town. Oakland Raiders Quarterback JaMarcus Russell is being crucified in the sports media. The key is that all of these situations are followed by the words “deservedly so.”

Yet for every Akili Smith, there is a Steve McNair, in the same way that for every Peyton Manning, there is a Ryan Leaf. This is as race-neutral as society can be.

Professional sports is about winning. While Tiger Woods is great for golf because of his mixed race, all the hype would not keep him standing tall without his victories. His race is irrelevant. He is the best.

The second area where Limbaugh went wrong was with McNabb himself. Donovan McNabb plays in one of the toughest sports markets in America. He is a bona fide superstar. He plays hurt. He even plays injured. He just came back from having cracked ribs to throw three touchdown passes.

What many people did not see was the rest of that clip, where Limbaugh stated that McNabb got too much of the credit for the Eagles success. “Philadelphia has always been about their defense.”

This is not only a fair point, but an accurate one. As great as Randall Cunningham was and Donovan McNabb is, the Eagles since the 1980s have been known for defense, from Buddy Ryan to the late Jim Johnson.

Limbaugh was right to say that the Eagles were mainly about defense, but he was wrong to call McNabb overrated, and his assertion that the NFL was lifting up a black man was off the mark.

Yet it was not racist.

What should have happened is for the other ESPN announcers to challenge him. From political programs like “Crossfire” and “Hannity and Colmes” to sports debate shows like “Pardon the Interruption,” spirited debate makes for quality television. By allowing his remark to go unchallenged, it was unfair to criticize him after the fact when he already was dismissed from the show.

Limbaugh has heaped praise on many black athletes over the years. If he were a racist, he would have rooted for the Cardinals in the Super Bowl, since they had a white head coach in Ken Whisenhunt instead of a black head coach in Mike Tomlin.

If others have hard evidence of racist comments Limbaugh has made, they need to present that evidence. Hearsay and smear campaigns are not acceptable.

I do not expect that to occur. Limbaugh is loud, bombastic, opinionated, and provocative.

He is a smart businessman that knows and loves football, although like any analyst, he will get it wrong.

(I know football, and I had the Titans, currently 0-5, winning the Super Bowl this year. Yeah. I know.)

What he is not is a racist.

There is no legitimate reason to deny him or Mark Cuban the right to own a franchise.

Owners who violate rules can be punished. Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner were both sanctioned for different reasons. Limbaugh should be held to the same rules.

The rules are not always pretty. Michael Vick is not popular among many in our society. Yet the same rules that took him away from the game brought him back to it. Political correctness did not carry the day. The law did, from American law to the NFL bylaws.

Limbaugh never shot any dogs. He simply expressed politically conservative opinions.

Nothing in the rules prevents Limbaugh from owning an NFL team.

He should be allowed to buy the St. Louis Rams.


6 Responses to “Rush Limbaugh and the National Football League”

  1. If Limbaugh were to be come a majority owner in an NFL team, there’d be three problems right off the bat – lot’s of high quality players would not play for his team, Limbaugh could very well wreck the NFL’s tenuous future contract negotiations, if the salary cap ends Limbaugh will gut the team for profits because he just doesn’t have the resources bigger market teams have. If you really know the NFL, you’d know those three things.

    On top of that, the NFL business model is ENTERTAINMENT. It’s ALL about “emotion” and “feelings.” Emotion and feelings ARE the product. Limbaugh would only bring negative emotion and feelings to the NFL. And it’s NOT that he’s a conservative republican. There are TONS of conservative republicans in the NFL. It’s that he’s a lowlife. Limbaugh would be an unmitigated disaster for the NFL. Worse than Michael Vick – by far. As for whether Limbaugh is a racist or not, who knows? Ony Limbaugh can see in his own heart. But there’s one thing for certain: Limbaugh endlessly panders to racism and racists. That’s why that stupid McNabb comment. That’s why comments like these:

    “I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”

    “You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray. We miss you, James. Godspeed.”

    “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

    “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”

    “The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”

    “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” (to an African American female caller)

    And on and on and on and on…

    NO true fan of the NFL would want Limbaugh to be an owner.


  2. Toma says:

    Jers, anyone can glean a few statements that someone has made over a period of time and paint a negative picture of that person. How did you put it,”cull” statements that someone made?

    What I see in the statements you “culled” and put in the post is Limbaugh don’t like people that prey on other people. But then I’m a racist, right?

    I’m a true fan of the NFL and I don’t care one way or the other if Limbaugh owns a team. The NFL is a self-governing intity and as an intity it has certain criteria requisites, if you will. That intity will make the decisions, not you or me, the NFL don’t care what we think. Which is a good thing.

    The NFL is in the entertainment business, true, and money drives it. Players are not particularly interested in who owns the team. Players are more interested in contracts that yield the greatest dividends. It is the epitome of free enterprise. I have something to sell and you want it, lets talk.

    Do you realize how many high-paying careers are generated by the NFL?

    Wish I had a job in the NFL. I could squirt water in the face of a thirsty player, change out cleats, wash uniforms, Kicking-tee retriever maybe. What would you be qualified to do? Something glamorous and important I bet.

    Perhaps George Soros would be a better candidate for ownership. According to you he is such a great american.


  3. Yeah, sure, “cull” works. I use that word a lot myself.

    I guess I shouldn’t have said “true” fan but rather “truly informed” fan.

    If you are a truly informed fan, you’d know, for starters, that many players take less lucrative contracts to play for winning teams, or to play in their home state or city, or to play for a favored coach, or get away from a less favored coach. The amounts of money these players make are so high, they can take a little less and still come out on top. To standard per capita market rationale does not always apply to professional athletes.

    Bigger stars, with bigger fan bases and marketing, are particularly incentivized to make decisions that sometimes run contrary to what may seem on the surface to be their own best opersonal interest. They may take a cheaper contract – but in order to sell more tee-shirts. They may sign a shorter contract – but in order to make a future planned move. They may move to a bench on a nother team (you see this with QBs quite a bit) – but in order to hide an injury. There’s a lot more to player decisions than just the breadth of a contract.

    Many big time stars, I’m quite certain, would not play for Limbaugh. Why? Because they don’t have to, and beyond just the contract at hand, they’re career is much more than just one contract.

    But you did not address the rest of my arguments. Limbaugh could be a threat to the wonderful business model the NFL has now. Even Eric, the consummate capitalist, agrees that the NFL is an example of positive socialism in action. And for the racism thing – you aren’t Limbaugh, Toma. You don’t have tens of millions pf people listening to you. NFL employees are expected to maintain (albeit sometimes very tenuously) a certain level of decorum, and Limbaugh simply does not live up to that. Heck, even T.O. carries himself with far more distinguishment. And then there’s the fact that Limbaugh has painted himself into a rhetorical corner. how can he behave like an NFL owner and still be “El Rushbo,” the panultimate hate-talk radio host?

    I just can’t see how any fan – liberal, conservative, whatever – could think this is a good idea.


  4. […] think my friend Eric at the Tygrrr Express had the best post about the whole ordeal yesterday. This is a business deal. Like any other business deal, it should be looked at through a cold […]

  5. Micky 2 says:

    Rush never made the Earl Ray statement and CNN/Rick Snatchez have not apologized for repeating two things he never said.
    Why arent clips of him saying these things everywhere ?
    Because there arent any

  6. Micky 2 says:

    Rick apologized yesterday, kind of a lame apology, but at least he admitted the truth

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