St. Louis — Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh lashed out at NFL union leader DeMaurice Smith, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the media a day after being dropped from a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams.
On his syndicated show Thursday, Limbaugh said he was approached by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts earlier this year about participating in a Rams bid. Checketts assured him his involvement as a minority investor had been vetted by the NFL, he said.
“I said to him at this meeting, ‘Are you aware of the firestorm?’ He said, ‘We wouldn’t have approached you if we hadn’t taken care of that,’” said Limbaugh, a conservative favorite who is reviled by many liberals.
Limbaugh added that Checketts had told him his involvement had been cleared at the “highest levels of the NFL.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Colts owner Jim Irsay each expressed misgivings this week at a league-wide meeting about Limbaugh’s involvement, with Goodell saying Limbaugh had made “polarizing” comments and Irsay vowing to vote against him. On Wednesday, Checketts said Limbaugh had been dropped from the bid.
During a 15-minute counterattack at the start of his show, Limbaugh said he believes he’s been made an example by a players’ union seeking leverage in talks over a new collective-bargaining agreement. What happened to him was an illustration of “Obama’s America on full display,” the commentator said.
Limbaugh blamed Smith, executive director of the NFLPA and an “Obama-ite,” along with Sharpton and Jackson, whom he referred to as “race hustlers,” for Checketts’ decision to drop him. He said his sacking was an example of the political clout wielded by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Raiders blacked out again
Alameda, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders’ home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday will be blacked out locally because the team did not sell out the game in time. This is the second time in three home games Oakland has been unable to avoid a blackout.
Vick protest planned
Oakland, Calif. — A Bay Area animal-rights group is planning a protest against Michael Vick before his game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
The group In Defense of Animals says it will protest outside Oakland Coliseum before Vick plays his first road game for the Philadelphia Eagles since being reinstated to the NFL following an 18-month prison sentence for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. The group says Vick has not shown proper remorse.
Knight moving to Monday
Bristol, Conn. — Bob Knight is moving to a bigger stage with ESPN. The network said Thursday the Hall of Fame coach will serve as the analyst for the weekly “Big Monday” Big 12 game during the college basketball season. He also will call some nonconference games. Knight worked Thursday night games during his first full season with ESPN last year.
Texas Tech, Knight’s former school currently coached by his son Pat, is not scheduled for a Big Monday game this season. Knight will team with play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger. He will continue to appear on ESPN studio shows.
James, Jackson battling flu
Independence, Ohio — LeBron James and teammates Darnell Jackson and Coby Karl have tested positive for Influenza A and are being treated as if they have the H1N1 virus.
H1N1, also known as swine flu, is a strain of Influenza A, and though the Cavaliers have not gotten back H1N1 test results on the three, the team said it is being proactive in treating players and the traveling party to Texas. The Cavs play at San Antonio tonight and in Dallas on Saturday.
Tulsa to apply for team
Tulsa, Okla. — With new supporters on board, a group of investors in Tulsa plans to apply formally to the WNBA to purchase a franchise. Lead investor Bill Cameron announced Thursday that his group, called Tulsa Pro Hoops LLC, will try to buy a WNBA team and expects a decision from the league by the end of October.
Johnson wins Lowe’s pole
Concord, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson is returning to his dominant ways at the perfect time. His latest accomplishment: the fastest qualifying lap of the NASCAR season. The three-time defending Sprint Cup champion and points leader looked the part Thursday, earning the pole at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with a blistering lap of 192.376 mph. Mark Martin, sitting second in points, will start second after a lap of 191.816 mph. Kasey Kahne qualified third.
Pernice shares Vegas lead
Las Vegas — Champions Tour winner Tom Pernice Jr. shot a bogey-free 9-under 62 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead with Troy Matteson and Spencer Levin in the PGA Tour’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Bob Heintz and Martin Laird were a stroke back, and three-time Las Vegas winner Jim Furyk matched Scott Piercy at 64. Furyk bogeyed his first two holes.
Molinari leads in Portugal
Vilamoura, Portugal — Francesco Molinari had an eagle and eight birdies Thursday to take a 2-shot lead with a 9-under 63 after the first round of the Portugal Masters. Alastair Forsyth, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel were tied for second, and Lee Westwood was in a group of six another shot back.
Nadal, Djokovic advance
Shanghai — Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had straight-set wins Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters. The top-seeded Nadal, aiming for his first title since winning the Rome Masters in May, defeated Tommy Robredo, 6-1, 6-4. Djokovic moved into the quarterfinals by stopping German qualifier Rainer Schuettler, 6-4, 6-2.
Top seed wins in Austria
Linz, Austria — Top-seeded Flavia Pennetta retained her chance of reaching the WTA Championships by defeating Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, to reach the Generali Ladies quarterfinals on Thursday.