I was going to let the Rush Limbaugh-as-NFL-owner controversy go, but two things happened. First, Jim Irsay commented on the story, thus making it vaguely relevant to the Colts. Second, Jason Whitlock commented on the story. As you know, we enjoy Whitlock even when he is wrong. I think he’s wrong in this situation. Here’s the facts as I see them, feel free to disagree.
Valid reasons to exclude Rush Limbaugh from ownership:
1. Limbaugh has a history of prescription drug-addiction, for which he was prosecuted. If the owners need a reason to ditch El Rushbo then look no further. The addiction makes him a liability. Although, and I’m seriously just remembering as I type this, I believe Jim Irsay struggled with very similar issues in the recent past.
2. He’s too controversial. This decision is voted on by the owners, and the NFL is a business. If Rush is too hot to touch then so be it. It’s not like Rush has earned himself a lot of wiggle room with the other 50% of the country. He’s made his own bed etc…
Poor excuses to exclude Rush Limbaugh from ownership:
1. He is a racist. The evidence Whitlock provides are a pair of discredited quotes from Wikipedia. Quotes that may or may not be made up, and are given with no context. Is that the best Jason can do? Whitlock falls back on our preconceived notions of Limbaugh, which isn’t enough for me. I take charges of racism more seriously than that.
Side question: If Rush is a racist would he really be seeking entry into an industry where 75% of the workforce is black? I don’t know the answer, but it is worth asking. If someone can come up with hard evidence of his racism feel free to provide it. I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m not saying it is not out there.
2. Limbaugh implied that Donovan McNabb was being propped up by the media because of his skin color. Was Rush right? I don’t know, but I don’t think it was as outlandish as Tom Jackson and others claimed at the time. The media badly wanted first Michael Vick and later Vince Young to be the next big thing. They ignored obvious flaws in each each player’s game. It was truly embarrassing. Was race a factor? Probably not, but I can’t say for certain. Was it wrong for Rush to bring the topic up? I’m an adult and I didn’t have a problem with him asking an edgy question, but ultimately it was up to ESPN to decide what topics are appropriate.
The important thing is that Rush was badly wrong about McNabb’s ability. Turns out McNabb is really good. But in fairness a lot of people were questioning his skills at the time (actually people were still questioning Donovan as recently as last week).
On a sidenote, I’m not sure why Whitlock thinks this is a publicity stunt. Limbaugh recently signed a contract extension worth an estimated $400 million. He doesn’t need the publicity. He doesn’t need anything really. Except perhaps a really bad football team.
Final sidenote: Does Whitlock still think the Titans would smoke the Colts?