Talk about irony. NFL owners, who are almost all rich, white guys, are showing little enthusiasm for allowing Rush Limbaugh into their exclusive club.
For liberals — and I know there are five or six hiding out there in the Pikes Peak region — this is delicious. For conservatives, this is infuriating.
A bunch of rugged individualists who double as obscenely successful capitalists don’t want El Rushbo in their circle. These are the very men Rush celebrates every day.
Now, that’s irony. But, really, can anyone be surprised?
Each weekday, Limbaugh delivers high-volume and highly divisive commentary. He excels at pleasing right-wing listeners while offending just about everyone else. No doubt this formula works. He will earn $37.5 million in 2009, enough to fund his bid to become minority owner of the St. Louis Rams.
But the NFL isn’t interested in appealing only to the right-wing segment of America. The NFL reaches out to anyone with a wallet, which means Limbaugh’s failed attempt has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the almighty dollar.
I listened to Limbaugh on Wednesday. As expected, he blamed his NFL problems on what he considers the great evil of our time, the liberal “they.”
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were keeping him out of the NFL, he shouted. He also made sure to call Jackson “a fool.”
Rush must know the truth. He must know he banished himself from the NFL.
In 2007, Limbaugh offered this analysis:
“The NFL,” he said, according to a transcript on his Web site, “all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”
It was classic Rush, who is endlessly and recklessly bold. That’s why he’s beloved in certain pockets of America. And that’s why he’ll never join a league in which 65 percent of the players are blacks.
He despises moderation of all forms. He mocks it. You can admire him, I guess, for refusing to be homogenized, but his tirades carry a price.
In 2003, Limbaugh offered one of his most famous statements. On an ESPN broadcast, he said Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback do well. ESPN, as interested in a diverse audience as the NFL, quickly banished Limbaugh.
I had to laugh. You see, I know a white guy who had been critical of McNabb. That white guy is me.
After McNabb’s sophomore season at Syracuse University, I wrote a column asking why he had failed to meet his vast potential, why he threw interceptions instead of touchdowns in big games and why he was out of shape.
Criticism or support of McNabb was never about color. It was about him playing the most glorified and scrutinized position in sport.
Limbaugh wandered into the discussion with a lame explanation: Support for McNabb was all about color.
Were Limbaugh’s words racist?
I’ll let you decide, but they were laughably and predictably simplistic.
So, please, don’t despair Rush fans. This controversy comes at an ideal time for your hero.
Glenn Beck was poised to pass Rush as darling of the far-right movement.
After this NFL ruckus, Beck has no chance.