By Gregory Moore
America’s largest talk show host wants to be an NFL owner and the NFL players are forming a wedge against that idea.
Rush Limbaugh, probably the richest talk show host in America, is a part of an ownership group led by St. Louis Blues CEO Dave Checketts, is looking to by the Rams from Chip Rosenbloom, Lucia Rodriguez and Stan Kroenke for the price tag of about $930 million (that’s according to Forbes Magazine).
There’s just one small problem with the proposed deal: the NFLPA is totally against it.
In the sports business world of the NFL, the only true thing that speaks loudly more than a vicious tackle on Sunday afternoon is the almighty dollar; namely a large stack of them.
On the outset many are wondering what is all the fuss with the players’ union wanting to block the move.
Maybe what the majority of those in wonderment do not understand is that at 67% of the union’s membership is African American and that this league, outside of the NBA, has one of the most diverse hiring practices for minorities.
While El Rushmo may have the owners as his audience, what he doesn’t have is over 1,600 minorities that feel that every time he talks today’s societal ills, he is dehumanizing their heritage and culture.
It is why many players have begun speaking out against Limbaugh being an owner.
Two of the biggest critics of the sale from a player’s standpoint are Mathias Kiwanuka of the New York Giants and Bart Scott of the New York Jets.
“I know I wouldn’t want to play for him. He’s a jerk,” Scott says. “He’s an —. What he said (about Donovan 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.”
Kiwanuku voiced similar reservations about Limbaugh saying, “All I know is from the last comment I heard, he said in (President) Obama’s America, white kids are getting beat up on the bus while black kids are chanting ‘right on. I mean, I don’t want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play.”
“I am not going to draw a conclusion from a person off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there’s a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can’t respect him as a man,” Kiwanuku concluded.
Limbaugh has recently said in an interview that his show is about making money and that for him, ideology and business is “one in the same.”
Yet for players like Scott, Kiwanuku and so many others, disparaging a player of McNabb’s stature based on the fact that he is black doesn’t sit well with them.
It is why NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has stood behind his players who are speaking out on this issue and is urging the NFL to dismiss the Limbaugh/Checketts group and look to others, especially those with minority involvement, who want to buy the Rams.
“I have asked our players to embrace their roles not only in the game of football but also as players and partners in the business of the NFL,” Smith said in a letter reported by ESPN’s web entity, ESPN.COM. “They risk everything to play this game, they understand that risk and they live with that risk and its consequences for the rest of their life. We also know that there is an ugly part of history and we will not risk going backwards, giving up, giving in or lying down to it.
“Our men are strong and proud sons, fathers, spouses and I am proud when they stand up, understand this is their profession and speak with candor and blunt honesty about how they feel.”
For members of the NFLPA, Limbaugh would set the league back on its work of being a very diversified organization as a whole.
According to the annual report card that is given out by Dr. Richard Lapchick of the University of Central Florida and a principal member of The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), the league has very high marks for minority participation in league operations, coaching and players with an increased participation by minorities in minority ownership of such teams like the Miami Dolphins.
With all of that going for it, one would have to question why the league would want such a controversial figure like Limbaugh to be in this cultural melting pot.
The only logical reason that anyone can come up with is that Limbaugh has deep pockets worth about $400 million.
We all know that money rules in most cases but what the NFLPA is doing is defending culture that is a part of its members’ lives.
The statements that Rush said about McNabb in 2003 were very much incendiary (if not, why did he resign?).
Another reason why Limbaugh would be bad for the NFL, outside of his controversial positions on minority issues, is the fact professional sports is considered by many a form of “socialism”.
After all how can you rail against ‘socialist’ programs that are government subsidized, talk about minorities as being lazy and are ‘criminalistic savages’ and yet in the same breath turn around and say, “make sure you cheer on Leonard Little and my Rams this Sunday”?
While not discounting what the NFLPA believes is a just point, a bigger point that needs to be made is how much of a hypocrite would Rush Limbaugh be?
Well if you have 400 million ways to flip flop then it’s possible but if the NFL is smart and they want to continue being an organization that believes in diversity, then they need to say Rush, “Thank you Mr. Limbaugh for your interest. We will contact you if we deem you qualified to be an NFL owner.”