Limbaugh Lines

Oct 2, 2003

It looks like Rush Limbaugh is down to one job again. His ESPN gig is up, thanks to some controversal comments on Sunday and a semi-voluntary resignation today. Here’s exactly what he said. Go ahead and watch. I’ll wait.

Ok, I’ll come clean. I’m a fan of his show. It’s made for this sort of stuff. It’s rattles a Democrat’s nerves and makes a Republican smile. I like him because he’s willing to go over the top and willing to stick to his guns when he does.

ESPN got exactly what they wanted: controversy. They listened to his show. They wanted social commentary on sports issues. They should be familiar with his general hatred of the media. They can’t say they didn’t see this coming. I bet their ratings will be up this week. Their executives should be very happy.

Peter King, one of my favorite members of the sport’s media, wrote that Rush’s comments weren’t racist but they were boneheaded. I agree. This was a miscalculation by Rush. Ruffle feathers. Don’t lose job. But the reaction was off the charts. A white man spoke his mind about racial issues. Heaven help us. Let’s forget that he might have a point.

He’s might not even be wrong. Years ago, a black quarterback was a new thing. Doug Williams was one of very few in his playing days. More recently, Steve McNair is often credited with ushering in a new era of quarterbacking (We could only hope. Steve McNair is, quite simply, the man, injured or not.). Back then, of course the media would want black quarterbacks to do well. It was the story. Success is something we can all get around. If there happens to be a lot of print around on the subject, so much the better.

But things are a bit different now. It’s 2003, by the way. Black quarterbacks lead 28% of the teams in the NFL right now (32% when Michael Vick returns). Having a black quarterback is no longer an anomaly. It is no longer worthy of news. Along with that newsworthiness, the media’s interest in the success or failure of black quarterbacks is now very low or nonexistent. Rush is wrong, even though he is still defending his view (and rightly so).

That doesn’t mean that we can’t all discuss this issue without the thought police of Al Sharpton or, even scarier, Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark shouting for the man to be fired. Just because Rush says it, doesn’t make it true. Just because a statement involves race shouldn’t mean that it isn’t worthy of debate. Race shouldn’t matter, either in quarterbacking or discussion. The former is still up in the air. There are plenty of Sundays for quarterbacks of all races to prove themselves (and let’s not forget that black and white are not the only two colors, or races, available). The latter, unfortunately, was answered again today, if you didn’t know the answer already.

by | Categories: politics |

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