Was It the Pills Talking?


With the impeccable timing of a pro, Rush Limbaugh has a perfect cover story for his controversial comments regarding Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb: It was the pills talking.

To be fair, no man is hero to his valet, and no man is sober to his housekeeper (the source for the drug abuse allegations). And Rush refuses, at least for now, to back away from his comments, saying they were directed at the media, not at McNabb, and that they had no "racist" intent. Here's what he said: "

"I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

More peculiarly, Rush has insisted that the criticism of his comments only means that he's absolutely right:

"If I wasn't right there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community."

As the AP's Jim Litke points out,

For the record, the Eagles have gone to the NFC title game the last two seasons, and having a defense ranked in the top five certainly hasn't hurt. By the same token, the rest of the players in the league thought enough of McNabb's offensive skills to vote him into the Pro Bowl the last three seasons. Without reporters blocking or catching a single pass, McNabb has led Philly to a 36-22 record in his starts, including the playoffs.

One thing Limbaugh might have missed: The media may well have a vested interest in seeing the Philadelphia Eagles, a franchise that historically has vacillated between being a high-performance and low-performance loser, finally win a Superbowl, if only to placate the team's fans, among the nastiest in all of professional sports.

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  1. Oh man, he said that? That’s pretty vile. Now I agree with whoever said previously in this thread that ESPN wanted some controversary and planned to dump Rush as soon as they got it. I’d never heard of the show before, but now I have!

  2. Hey FRB, the reason Charles Barkley didn’t get slammed for saying that about Larry Bird is because it wasn’t Charles Barkley, it was Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman, way back in 1987. And you’re wrong, there was a ton of outrage from that — not just in Boston either. And hey, there are still repercussions — Larry Bird just got a measure of revenge as GM of the Indiana Pacers by canning Isiah as coach of the team on the eve of the new season.

    But that’s all beside the point. The point is, the comment sparked a ton of outrage. Don’t know where you were…

  3. ESPN decided that having Rush on the show was bad for business, so they forced him out. What’s wrong with that?

    Nothing except for the fact that the man did exactly what they paid him to do. Maybe they didn’t expect a mess this big or this soon, but if they didn’t expect him to make a mess at all the people that hired him should be getting forced out along with him.

    …is “Nascar hat wearing mullet racks” a racial slur?

    Probably. Hopefully, actually. Maybe it’ll catch on and I can copyright it.

    …remember that question to QB Doug Williams at the press conference before the 1988 superbowl, “how long have you been a black quarterback?”…

    I heard the back story on that was the reporter was a friend of his and asked the question as a joke on the other stupid “do you do that because you’re black” questions he was getting. Unfortunately very few of the other reporters got the joke and just reported the question having been asked so that became the story.

  4. Here’s what Rush said:

    “I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”

    So is it true?

    1. Are the media interested in black quarterbacks doing well? I think the answer is yes.

    2. Did McNabb get a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he didn’t really deserve? The question is NOT “Is McNabb a good quarterback,” but “did he get some credit that he didn’t deserve?” If McNabb is an A quarterback, but the media think he’s an A+, Rush’s statement is still true.

    3. Is the opinion: “McNabb is good but overrated, and it was the defense that carried this team” such a horrific example of football ignorance that a man should be fired for saying it? I don’t know much about football, but I know a bit about baseball, and if you fired every commentator who ever said anything false and dumb, there would be none left.


  5. Dan,

    You’re right, I got the player wrong (it was Isiah), but I still don’t remember all that much being made about it. I follow pro-basketball mildly at best, and I remember just a little bit of grumbling here and there, but certainly not to the extent that this has gotten. Isiah’s quip, as far as I remember, didn’t make it out of the sports section, and he certainly hasn’t been painted as a racist. As for the firing, I doubt Bird’s train of though for firing him was “Gee, Isiah said some things that could be taken as racist.” I have a sneaking feeling it was a bit more personal than that. If Bird was black, asian or a transvestite pygmie he still would have fired Isiah’s whining ass.

  6. Anti-Black Quarterbackism is the last acceptable prejudice.

  7. Phil,

    All QBs get credit they don’t deserve when their teams do well. Duh!

  8. I heard one time Rush threw a banana at a black guy! He is racist. Or maybe that was Howard Stern….

  9. Phil,

    In other words, just because he may get more credit than he deserves, doesn’t mean its because he’s black – its due to the position he plays.b Until you can prove that its due to his being black, as opposed to the much more common phenomenon I’ve noted, you are spouting hogwash.

  10. This isn’t racism. This is Rush playing the race card to draw attention to himself. There are too many black quarterbacks for his comments to make any sense. The most overrated player in any sport ever was Mateen Cleaves, and no one was waiting for a great black college point gaurd.

    I’ve always thought McNabb was a little overrated, but not egregiously so and there is no reason to think has anything to do with his race. The media just love some players for no good reason. I suspect sports writers (who are the most profoundly stupid group of people on earth) overrate the players who give them access and interviews as a reward.

    Also, Tiger Woods is just that good.

  11. “This isn’t racism. This is Rush playing the race card to draw attention to himself.” Good analysis. Similar to what I said earlier but more to the point.

    “I was looking at the TV when he said it and I just dropped my head and said, ‘I can’t believe he just said that. Anytime someone of the opposite color says something about someone else, it’s always taken negatively. Did he mean it like that? I don’t know.

    “But you stay away from comments like that, no matter how strongly you feel about something. In a situation like that, you just have to take the high road. Even though Donovan hadn’t been playing well, you just say, ‘The guy hasn’t played well, maybe his offensive line is shaken up or he doesn’t have playmakers,’ but you never say, ‘If he was this …’ You’re asking for trouble, and he got it.”
    –Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos

  12. >I suspect sports writers (who are the most >profoundly stupid group of people on earth) >overrate the players who give them access and >interviews as a reward.


    That’s a really ignorant statement. Steve Carlton didn’t ever give interviews, and nobody ever wrote that he wasn’t a great pitcher, at least not until he was way past his prime. Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson … lots of superstar players have been surly toward sportswriters, yet those writers are still appreciative of those stars’ performances.

  13. Rush is not just playing the race card, but “the media” card as well. Basically Rush sees a media “affirmative action” program to help black quarterbacks and managers succeed in the NFL.


    This is just red meat, bait for his fans. He’s gotten rich enough to buy illegal Oxy in quantity by using these stereotypes.

  14. CW,

    Giving JDM the benefit of the doubt, I think he was just speculating on the motive, and perhaps you’ve thrown water on that hypothesis. Still, I agree that some players get more of a free ride from the press than others. Maybe they’re better looking, as I believe research has shown that better looking kids are more popular among their peers at a very young age. Maybe it’s a combination of things. Maybe we’ll never know. Maybe it’s just an illusion, but for whatever reason, it kinda seems that way sometimes. Hell, maybe race really does play into it, and maybe even in both directions. The point remains that Rush was not necessarily motivated by racism (I’ll leave it to more avid Rush watchters to debate his patterns), the comment was clearly not racist in and of itself, but it clearly WAS out of line, for a variety of reasons…

  15. Curt,

    If I were saying that athletes were rated solely on their cooperation with the media you’d have a point. But I’m not, so you don’t. I’m sure there are innumerable other reasons.

    Which of the players you mention was overrated?

  16. This is why the LP is so marginalized. Here we have a perfectly good drug story and we have an 80 message long thread on sports.


  17. Curt,
    I should mention that I think you got a raw deal in St. Louis. Marc Bulger’s good, but you’re better.

  18. “The point remains that Rush was not necessarily motivated by racism…”

    Motivated, no. He didn’t say it because he wanted to insult black people or start a race war. He was motivated by the desire to make an insightful comment about football, and he expressed his opinion. The problem is that this opinion, like many of his opinions, is a dumb and offensive one. The reason he holds this dumb, offensive opinion is that his view of things is cloulded by polticized feelings about race, politics, and the media.

    The fired his ass because he’s a lousy commentator. And the reason he’s a lousy commentator is because his opinions about race lead him to say stupid, offensive things. Why would ESPN want a commentator who says stupid, offensive things?

  19. “to hh’s point that the ‘bone comment’ was ‘years ago'”

    Decades ago… And sorry, one outrageous comment doesn’t exactly measure up to dodging the draft. Nice try.

  20. “to hh’s point that the ‘bone comment’ was ‘years ago'”

    Decades ago… And sorry, one outrageous comment doesn’t exactly measure up to dodging the draft (and yes I am aware Rush supposedly did that too but that’s another story and Rush didn’t leave the country). Nice try.

  21. JDM: That’s Kurt, but appreciated. And please, no more “deal with the devil” jokes!

    I’m not saying the surly ones are overrated, just that they aren’t underrated – their successes are not discounted because they’re surly bastards.

  22. Joe,

    Well, hmmm, that kinda seems closer to what I’ve been saying to what you previously said, so, okay, I’ll more or less go along with that!

    I’ll only add that I’m not personally offended by what Rush said (as I would by a truly racist comment), my reaction is one of rolling my eyes while recognizing that to talk like that in today’s climate on a sports show (a not insignificant point) IS offensive to the general public, and he’s only paying the price of his own foolishness and bad manners. Actually, I think Sharpe kinda said it best!

  23. Mo,

    But then, aren’t libertarians supposed to be overly concerned with the drug issue? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! 🙂

  24. I still don’t see why this is an issue.

    Mr. Limbaugh holds and expresses opinions that do not appeal to a number of viewers. ESPN has an interest in broadcasting content that will attract viewers in order to earn advertising revenue. As such, Mr. Limbaugh no longer works for ESPN.

    I don’t see any injustice here. Just “Free Minds and Free Markets”. That’s a good thing, right?

  25. It is. Consider him Dixie Chick’ed.

  26. Rush literally, no exaggeration, was granted a medical deferment for having a boil on his ass.

    Clinton didn’t avoid the war, he resisted it, doing everything in his paltry power to stop it. He didn’t want any Americans to die in southeast Asia.

    Rush supported the war, but wanted to make sure that other Americans would do the dying.

  27. The First Amendment guarantees “freedom of speech”, i.e. the federal government will not prosecute you for speaking your mind. The federal government is not prosecuting Rush. Rush lost a job which had been given to him by a private employer. In fact, if you don’t do any reading between the lines, Rush voluntarily resigned (yeah right). The point is, the First Amendment does not give you the right to say whatever you want to say and not have to face the consequences. Ask Bill Maher, John Rocker, the Dixie Chicks, etc.

  28. hh wrote

    “Decades ago… And sorry, one outrageous comment doesn’t exactly measure up to dodging the draft (and yes I am aware Rush supposedly did that too but that’s another story and Rush didn’t leave the country). Nice try.”

    “leaving the country” on a rhodes scholarship is a decent excuse. so don’t try any of that patronizing “nice try” shit. the youthful dalliance excuse was okay for conservatives when it came to rep livingston. it was okay for qualye or bush II, whose daddies could get them out.

    and that’s a good point to give rush his pass for that, just as it was okay to allow bush his nose candy days, etc. learning from mistakes and all. it’s that it should go both ways. that way the liberals will always lose.

    eric (self-described conservative not a libertoid)

  29. This has got to be one of the most ridiculous stories of the year. There is absolutely nothing to this. If you want to discuss the football aspects of his comments, by all means do so. There is room for discussion there. But speaking from a perspective of someone who grew up in the cradle of the old south, I have seen racism, and this is not it. I think we could all agree that there are many within the media establishment that do not like talk radio (to put it mildly), and they are using this to take shots at the top dog in talk.

  30. Way too many comments to read so I’ll just bring it back to the crux.

    The McNabb thing is no big deal. He says stuff like this all of the time on his radio show to the tune of 20 million listeners a week. So what.

    As to the content, I don’t follow football close enough to know whether or not Rush is right about the media’s focus but, right or wrong, he commented on the media, not black athletes in general. I seem to remember McNabb getting injured towards the post season last year or so and his team doing just fine without him.

    Point being that Rush said, essentially, that McNabb is a good QB but not a great QB as evidenced by his record and his team’s record even when he’s injured. Though you wouldn’t know this from the media’ coverage. (Gasp! The media showing some kind of bias!?)

    The pill thing:
    So, let me get this thing straight, the dealer has been doing business with the buyer for 4 years, and now all of sudden, the dealer turns the buyer in. The dealer is also on the National Enquirer payroll and no one has mentioned, that I’ve read, where she got the extra drugs after her husband’s prescription ran out.

    It seems that if the police wanted anyone it would be the housekeeper. She’s the one doing the trafficking, Rush is, supposedly, just the recipient.

    If any of this is true, it sound more like a blackamail plan gone bad.

  31. Being a Steelers fan, I keep thinking about Kordell vs. Donovan in this context. I don’t know that their records overall are that different. Donovan is clearly a better quarterback, but it is an interesting comparison.

  32. I’m no doctor, but the numbers work our to an average of about 90 pills a day. Could even Keith Richards or Hunter Thompson do that and live?

    Yeah, Rush’s remarks were dumb on many different levels.

  33. I wonder if the comments mihgt have been more true had they been directed at Kordell, although I don’t know if anyone ever gave Kordell credit. Yet I’m surprised to see him QBing for Chicago if he wasn’t overrated by the press. If Kordell got a pass, was it cos he was black? Other questions: when he spoke about football, did Rush say anything nice about Vick or Culpepper?

  34. There are more manifestations of racism than separate drinking fountains and the n word, bennett. The evidence of McNabb’s extraordinary ability is so obvious, and Rush’s understanding of football sufficient, that there is no way Rush could possibly believe McNabb “wasn’t that great from the get-go” unless there was something clouding his judgement. And the comment about the media demonstrates exactly what that something is: Rush cannot conceive of a black person succeeding on his own merits. McNabb was overhyped because he HAD to be overhyped. Because he’s black, and is viewed as a success. Not racism? Please.

  35. I reserve all decisions until Gregg Easterbrork, a/k/a ESPN.com’s TMQ tells me how it really is. He’s like the only person I trust to llok at this impartially.

  36. joe,

    Thanks for letting the rest of us in on Rush’s exact thought processes. I appreciate the insight.

  37. McNabb’s response was very good – saying how he doesn’t care about an apology from RUsh because it was obvious Rush thought about it beforehand.

  38. I think Rush got it wrong about McNabb, but the thing I find most interesting is that I also think Charles Barkely got it wrong a few years ago when he said “Larry Bird is only considered great because he’s white. If Larry was black he’d be just another player.”

    Both comments are, I think, pretty dumb, but why does one dumb comment bring down the wrath of rightous outrage, yet the other is greeted at best with raised eyebrows and mutterings of “well, that’s Charles being Charles.”

  39. This just proves that Rush is a complete idiot when it comes to sports. It’s not like there haven’t been excellent black QB’s in the NFL before, or does Warren Moon not count because he started in the CFL? Does Doug Williams winning a super bowl not count either because he was a journeyman?

    And why single out McNabb just because the Eagles suck? Should be singling out Staley for that. McNabb was hurt at the end of last year, maybe he’s not fully recovered.

    And why single out McNabb for being a current black QB? Culpepper’s off to a good start, McNair’s fine and Vick will be back.

  40. There was outrage in Boston.

    You’re welcome, anon. It’s pretty easy to get an understanding of someone’s thought process when they blab about it on a radio show for ten years.

  41. Ugh, football, Rush Limbaugh, and racism all in one topic. Gag me with a spoon.

  42. As to a point noted in the last sentence of the post: way back, when I was a kid and halftime lasted half an hour, during a game on Thanksgiving weekend in which Santa Clause made an appearance at the halftime show — the Philly fans booed him.

    They booed Santa Clause for cryin’ out loud! What a bunch of class-less jerks. I began to hate Philly then (also, I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but that’s beside the point :)).

    W.C. Fields was right.

  43. It wasn’t my fault, it was the Percodan. If you ask me, that stuff rots your brain. And now a word from our new sponsor… Percodan?! Aw, crap!

  44. You may think Limbaugh is dead wrong on whether McNabb is overrated. The question is: should anyone other than McNabb be offended by it? I think not. If you do not believe sports reporters write stories slanted to push their pet social/political agendas, then you are not paying attention. More black quarterbacks/head coaches is one the favorite pet causes of the sports journalist fraternity,and sports journalism is one of the most insular, politically correct professions in our society. Limbaugh is not one of them, and he dared criticize one of their prime orthodoxies.

    Consider this: ESPN’s show “The Sports Reporters” (a sports pundit roundtable show) last Sunday morning (10am ET), had as one of it’s first topics: What’s wrong with Notre Dame football? Notre Dame went 8-0 to start last season but is 1-3 now and their season appears to be in a death spiral. Their head coach is Tyrone Willingham, who is, I believe, the only black head coach at a major Division I-A school. Mike Lupica addressed the issue with this comment* “It is difficult to criticize Ty Willingham’s performance this year because of…his race.” One of the other members of the panel (who happens to be black) said* “I want Ty Willingham to succeed, because he is a black coach”

    If what Limbaugh said is so controversial, is not what was said by Lupica also controversial? Where is the uproar about it?

    *I am doing these quotes from memory. I may not have remembered them verbatim, but the gist of what was said is accurate.

  45. It wasn’t my fault, it was the Percodan. If you ask me, that stuff rots your brain. And now a word from our new sponsor… Percodan?! Aw, crap!

  46. Goes to show that the athletics / politics thing goes both ways, sort of like the showbusiness / politics thing. Athletes as a general rule don’t know squat about politics, and as such are better off if they refrain from talking about political issues. Likewise, political commentators as a general rule don’t know squat about sports, and as such are better if they refrain from critiquing the recent struggles of one of the best QBs (if not the best) in the NFL.

  47. Anon 9:42:

    Moon doesn’t count because he is arguably the most, how to say, timid quarterback ever. One LB in the backfield, and count it a sack.

    Jury’s out on Daunte, Vick is the no joke real deal.

    Has anybody else noticed how many bad quarterbacks have starting jobs this year? Who decides that Jake Plummer is their savior or that they need to develop the awesome talents of Quicy Carter? There seems to be a kind desperation to create a new qreat passer. How good is Kelly Holcomb, really?

    Vick can save the game from mediocrity, but first he has to sign with Pittsburgh …

  48. Philly is full of schmucks.

  49. Rush’s comment was on the media treatment of McNabb and there is probably a lot of truth to his statement. Look at Tiger Woods. The media is all over him, not because he is a good golfer, but because he is a good BLACK golfer. Every other bit of golf coverage has the tone of not “who is winning this tourny”, but “how is Tiger Woods (who know, the black golfer) doing”. Are all of these sports reporters racist, because they cannot seem to get over the apparent anomaly of a successful black athlete in areas that have traditionally been dominated by Eurotrash? Or would a person (such as myself, in this case) be the racist for pointing out the obvious?

    Hey Joe (without any 2nd amendment hardware in your hand):

    “And the comment about the media demonstrates exactly what that something is: Rush cannot conceive of a black person succeeding on his own merits.”

    There is no evidence of this – you made it up. Sounded pretty good though. This may be a shocker for you: Many people consider black people to be on equal standing with other peoples of the world – which is precisely why they don’t put on the kids gloves when dealing with issues involving people of color. Its also why many think affirmative action is wrong. The people on the other side of the fence (liberals/progressives such as yourself) harbor racial feelings – they think certain minorities are inferior to Europeans and therefor need a step-up. Wush doesn’t. So who is really the racist? This issue is not in any way about affirmative action, though. It is about exactly what Rush (almost) said – the media desire to have another Tiger Woods to generate stories about, and their willingness (in his opinion) to bend the news to fit that desire.

    I, generally speaking, don’t give two shits about professional sports. But, you don’t have to. The issue (or lack of) is plain as day for someone with out a politcal ax they’re looking to have ground.

  50. If you cared about sports, you’d know how obviously, flagrantly wrong Rush’s statement was, which is why it begs the question of why someone who does know something about sports (as Rush does) would say it.

    You would also realize that Tiger Woods gets all the coverage because he is an order of magnitude better than anyone else on the tour. Hosest to god, I saw someone write almost exactly the same thing as a parody. Because, Joe 2, the idea that Tiger Wood’s popularity (or the respect for McNabb’s ability) is a media creation, at odds with the players’ merit, is obviouly wrong on its face, so much so that’s it’s an object of humor.

    You believe that Rush must be right, that McNabb can’t possibly be as good as he’s portrayed in the media, because – why exactly? Because Rush Limbaugh told you? Because it fits into a narrative you like, that of “black people get all the breaks?” There are facts by which to judge this story, and they are not on your side.

  51. “Rush’s comment was on the media treatment of McNabb and there is probably a lot of truth to his statement. Look at Tiger Woods. The media is all over him, not because he is a good golfer, but because he is a good BLACK golfer.”

    This might be the dumbest statement I’ve ever read. Tiger Woods is not just a good golfer; he is perhaps the greatest golfer ever to play the game. His winning percentage ranks up there with anybody in the history of the game. He’s on pace to equal if not better the majors record of Jack Nicklaus. He wins the scoring average title every year, despite rarely playing in tournaments played at the easiest courses (e.g., the Hope). The attention he receives has nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with how good he is.

  52. “The issue (or lack of) is plain as day for someone with out a politcal ax they’re looking to have ground.”

    Yes, absolutely. The indisputable fact of McNabb’s talent wasn’t an issue at all, until Rush Limbaugh decided that the positive coverage must be a plot by the liberal media. The reflexive circling of the wagons around anyone accused of racism, regarless of the facts, is quite revealing.

    But for judging McNabb on his performance, and not just assuming that performance away to better fit a convenient narrative, I’m the racist.


  53. was limbaugh hired to do sports commentary to tap into some sort of conservative sports fan market that didn’t exist before? didn’t they learn from that whole denis miller thing?

  54. The problem with conspiracy theories is that they can never be proven incorrect; what we’ve seen demonstrated here is Limbaugh’s paranoia vis a vis the media. What McNabb needs to do of course is make Rush eat his words; which he did just hours after Rush said them.

  55. Joe is right. Rush said a guy is being covered because he is black. Sounds like something the KKK would say. Let’s not forget he is also right-wing, and they are usually racists (called reading between the lines).

  56. Listen to sports radio from time to time and a pattern will develop. Outside of a few extrordinary players, opinions will vary widely about who is a great player and who is not. For example, arguably Barry Bonds is the best player in baseball. But, if he comes up as topic of conversation you will encounter one or two people who would disagree, and cite several reasons why they believe he is over-rated (an opinion I do not share, by the way). My point is that those people who feel that way ARE NOT RACISTS. The color of his skin does not matter. It is a difference of opinion based on their evaluation of his performance. Period.

    Now, back to Rush. I think its safe to say he feels McNabb is over-rated as a player. Nowhere did he state that black quarterbacks as a rule were inferior and therefore were not capable of making it on their own, he simply said that PC leanings within the media and the NFL front offices slant coverage and hype players that may not deserve it. Once again, its an arguable position, but not a position that would allow anyone to conclude that Rush is a racist.

  57. I’ve realized Rush is a racist since he told a black caller to “take that bone out of your nose.” This is just confirmation.

  58. maybe it was the oxy habit talking?

    first he goes deaf, then it comes out he’s doing the hydrocodone shuffle. all they need to find now is the stash of gay porn and “you hate what you are” moralizer ballet can come to an end.

  59. First of all, I can’t read either Rush’s resignation statement or the acceptance of the resignation from ESPN without believing that this was a flat-out firing. ESPN got uncomfortable and told him to either walk out or get thrown out, and that’s too bad.

    But Rush’s statement is just one of the stupidest things ever said. Donovan McNabb has proved it out on the field, Michael Vick has proved it out on the field, and Kordell Stewart has proved he is teh suxors. I don’t see football hacks dancing around the subject of how much Kordell sucks, and I don’t see them saying “look how good Michael Vick is — considering he’s a black guy!”

    Don’t fire him because he may or may not be racist — fire him because he’s a jackass who’s out of touch with the sport.

    Oh, and Joe 2 — your contention Tiger Woods is overrated and jocked because of his skin color is far, far more stupid than Limbaugh’s comments on McNabb. McNabb has no hardware, so you can at least argue the point. Tiger has tons of it.

  60. Rush quit? See, I told you that white guys can’t take the heat!

  61. CENSORHIP! Chilling of free speech! Crushing of dissent!!!!

  62. Easterbrook has made his comments (the only ones I trust) on his TNR “Easterblogg”:

  63. The thing that I don’t see being discussed very much is ESPN’s role in this whole thing. Now I don’t have any behind the scenes scoops, but one thing has seemed pretty obvious since Rush was hired; he was supposed to be controversial. Why else would ESPN hire him? Does he know some things about football? Yes, but not more than hundreds of others. But they likely figured people would tune in to hear what this controversial figure would say, love it or hate it, it would then get folks talking and watching.

    Did he cross the line? Hardly, he may have stepped into a bit of a gray area, but this is hardly the most offensive thing said on any given Sunday. Deion Sanders says this, no problem. Terry Bradshaw says it, some bad mail, at worst an on-air “I didn’t mean anything by it”. ESPN wanted controversy, got it, then wouldn’t stand behind Rush. Rush realized this, and bailed because he had probably been promised a longer leash.

    As for the football aspect of this, it’s pretty much open to argument. He’s got a career rating of 77.1 and a TD:INT of 71:41. Decent, yes. Good, okay. Great, probably not. He does add an extra dimension with his running ability, but he’s merely good in this aspect, not great like Vick.
    He has led his team to two conference championship games, but so has Kordell Stewart. While he deserves credit for 2001, in 2002 he was out for the last 6 games of the season. Without him, his team went 5-1 (the only loss in OT), earning a first week bye. He played adequately coming back from injury, but it was the defense that got them past Vick and the Falcons 20-6. In the conf championship, he and his defense had their ass handed to them, at home, by the never-win-in-cold-weather Bucs.

    Hard to call him great. But he did hawk Chunky Soup.

  64. I think you’re under-rating him as a rusher (ha!). Not to mention, a QB who can power run and pass adds up to more than the sum of those two talents. A defense doesn’t get to decide to defend against passing Donovan or rushing Donavan; they have to be ready for both on nearly every play, meaning they can’t do either very well.

  65. One of the great appeals of sport is that it is one of the true pure meritocracies out there. If you’re good, you’re going to make it. If you’re not, you won’t. Period. It doesn’t matter who you know, it doesn’t matter what your background is, it doesn’t matter what your colour of skin is.

    Donovan McNabb is good. Donovan McNabb has made it. I won’t quote facts and statistics here, but rest assured there are facts and statistics that bear this out very easily. And, of course, Donovan McNabb is a black man. Clearly, Rush is uncomfortable with a black man having success, particularly in an arena that, until a couple decades ago, had been almost the exclusive domain of white men (there were very few black QBs in the NFL prior to about 1980).

    Many times, I become defensive when I hear someone playing the race card, or calling someone else a racist, as in many cases I feel it is akin to crying wolf. In this case, there is a real wolf, and his name is Rush Limbaugh.

    Neo-cons and others on the far right may not like to admit it, but Rush’s comments prove something that many of us have always felt about them – they harbor a deep-seated racism. While this racism may rarely bubble up to the surface, it is still there, and manifests itself in many different ways in their day-to-day behavior. They still feel that the white race is superior, and any time a black man has success (especially in a traditionally white role), that success must not be real – it must be a “construct” of the media.

  66. There’s different levels of analizing this. I don’t think Rush’s statement is *inherently* racist. And Bennett’s statement: “Outside of a few extrordinary players, opinions will vary widely about who is a great player and who is not” is what I was preparing to say myself till he said it first. Now, for all I know maybe Rush IS racist, but the statement he made in of itself isn’t necessarily.

    That said, anyone with an ounce of sense knows that making such a statement in today’s world is playing with fire and that some good qualifiers were necessary at the very least. And Rush’s statement that the outrage proves he was right is the ultimate in stupidity. Sure, the fear that someone may be right about something you disagree with might increase your anger towards him, but it’s quite obvious that’s not the ONLY thing that gets people angry!

    And James Ligon, if all those quarterbacks suck, who do YOU recommend in their stead?? I agree Shanahan’s rolling the dice with Plummer, but the thing is, he had little choice. And so far, looks like the gamble’s coming up Snake eyes! 🙂

  67. Contra Brad S, whenever things get really screwed up, it’s always convenient for us lefties to blame “Stupid White Men.”

  68. Rush is an idiot and a bigot. I was not suprised by his recent statement at all. Just listen to his radio program and you hear his bigoted insinuations come through loud and clear. Good riddance to bad rubish.

  69. “The reflexive circling of the wagons around anyone accused of racism, regarless of the facts, is quite revealing.”

    Amazing circular logic there. By that definition, anytime anyone anywhere disagreed with the moniker of “Racist” being placed on someone unfairly is just more proof that they are indeed a racist. I am screwed, and indeed a racist afterall. I just needed someone to enlighten me.

  70. Joe, you make good points about McNabb’s value. But then, so does Chthus. The point to be taken from Chthus’s analysis doesn’t depend on Chthus being right, just that he *could* be right, i.e., that the issue is open for debate.

    That said, Rush could have easily made the same point (that McNabb isn’t great) without injecting the racial aspect, and he’d still have his dream job.

    That said, it’s true that if one claimed discrimination in the opposite direction, there’d likely be practically no outrage at all, and in a certain sense this dichotomy is not fair. But then, who said life is fair? So-called double standards are a fact of life and you’re a fool to not recognize them.

  71. “He has led his team to two conference championship games, but so has Kordell Stewart.”

    Kordell gets no love from the media. So yes, Rush was wrong, very wrong. Hell, Steve McNair, if anything is under-rated and has been since he was at Alcorn State, where he got no respect because he went to a small black college in Mississippi. All this proves, once again, is that his opinion of the situation is no longer valid, but not that he believes in the inherant inferiority of black people.

  72. Is Steve McNair underrated as a QB because he’s black?

    The thing that strikes me as patently ridiculaous is that Rush thinks the media needs to “invent” a good black quarterback. McNair, Culpepper and Vick are examples of great quarterbacks in the league that also happen to be black. Talent-wise only Manning, Favre and Gannon (though he’s a system guy) belong with the other three, and Favre is in the twilight of his career.

    And Joe 2, saying Tiger Woods is overrated because he’s black is like saying Jordan was overrated because he was black.

  73. A) Limbaugh did not make the “bone in nose” comment during his radio show this year, not five years ago… he said it decades ago when he was a smart-ass disc jockey and has since expressed regret for the remark.

    B) Yes, Limbaugh cannot conceive of a Black person succeed on his own merits. That’s why earlier on ESPN he was defending Black coaches. Yeah, I’m sure you really follow Limbaugh closely enough to know what he’s thinking…

  74. I doubt you’re a racist, bennett. More of a fellow traveller. Like Catholic people in Belfast who’ll help any criminal who knocks on their door and says “The Brits is after me!” It is obvious that you harbor sympathy with people accused of racism, and assume those accusations to be false as long as there is a shred of an argument. Racists play to feelings like this, just as CPUSA members used to play to the sympathy of union members towards anyone who shouts “I’m being repressed by the bosses!”

  75. Ten, maybe 15 years ago, the dearth of black quarterbacks was still an issue. It isn’t anymore. You might make the argument back then that the NFL and media badly wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. It’s not even an issue anymore, and that’s the funniest thing about this whole controversy, that Rush is so apparently out of touch with the sports world he’s supposed to be covering.

    The disappointing thing is that there are race issues in sports that are worthy of discussion, like the lack of black sports executives and the appalling shortage of minority coaches in NCAA football. But here’s what we get: Rush popping off, the usual suspects calling for his resignation, etc.

    As for Kordell and the Bears: Accusing the Bears of giving him an extra chance because he’s black is one thing. Thinking that the Bears have any sort of reasoning behind their decisions, well, that is a leap I am not willing to make.

  76. Speaking of racism, I watched the Cubs-Braves game last night, and I see the lowbrows are still doing “the chop.” Teaching their kids to do it too.

  77. And if we’re going to accuse the NFL and media of overhyping mediocre players, why not start with Jeremy Shockey?

  78. rush — whatever ESPN got its controversy…

    ^ to hh’s point that the “bone comment” was “years ago” doesn’t hold up to the rush standard of pointing out clinton’s behavior in college in england… rush was all over that, as i recall.

    sure, the point is valid that his scramble for the ratings all those years ago has very little, probably, to do with his show now. but forgiving the guy based on that, when he’s a major proponent of ripping opponents based on the “years ago behavior” criterion is 1) tough to do but 2) should be done. he doesn’t say stuff like that. and he does apologize more directly than others in the limelight.

    people do use race to serve their own personal agenda. that sucks. we’re still moving towards a colorblind society, but whenever race is discussed, the knee-jerk “you’re a racist/no i’m not” reactions are quick. you get people double and triple speaking in efforts to show that they’re as open minded as the next guy. sigh.

    maybe espn can get someone less controversial, say, bill o’reilley to do the show?

    (full disclosure: actually, when Tiger Woods won the masters the first time, i took great glee not only in the play and the absolute magic of the moment, but i do admit that it was fun imagining all of those fucking hooded crackers being dismayed at the result…)


  79. Hooded crackers don’t mean a thing anymore. I was happy thinking about the rich guys complaining about “their” sport going to hell.

  80. “Is Steve McNair underrated as a QB because he’s black?”

    Now, no, and I did not mean to give that impression. I used him as an example to show how stupid and wrong Rush’s statement was.

    But back in his collegiate days in Mississippi, I absolutely believe he was. He had the talent to play D1 ball. Instead, he completely shredded the SWAC for a few years, and put up obscene offensive numbers.

    And wow, I’m Catholic too, so I am doubly screwed.

  81. hey joe!
    and mr haywood jablome giving quotes all the way.
    (and since Mr. Woods is richer than they are, too, snicker)

    oh — ms Hanoi Jane. no chop at wrigley tomorrow!

    still, should rush have been fired for voicing his opinion that there are elements out there (including himself) that use the race issue to further their own agenda?


  82. What makes sports great is that it is the only part of our society that has become colorblind (inside the lines, one need only to look at the NFL’s ham-handed diversity program for coaches to see it’s not completely true). Can you throw the ball? Go to the rack? 6’4″, 260 lbs and quick as a gazelle. Then I want you on my team. Doesn’t matter if you’re a white middle linebacker, an Asian center or a black pitcher. Most sports fans get it. Rush hasn’t gotten it yet. He made a similar comment on Vinny, that the ESPN guys were soft on him because they were friends with him, and was on the mark. The problem is he thought the same about McNabb, he’s Kordell 2, but Kordell was underrated, and tried to bring in the race card. Not only was it ignorant, but it was too ridiculous to be tolerated.

    If Rush wanted to debate race politics, he could’ve (rightly) gone after the NFL hiring policiy for coaches. He failed to realize there’s no affirmative action on the football field. The Eagles defense was not the Ravens of 2000-01. His recieving corps is mediocre, at best, and his running back is average, at best. Last year they won without him and he was sub-par returning from injury. The year before he was among the best in the game. He’s off to a slow start (after effects from the injury), but will get in stride. For every player that is overrated because they are black, once could claim being underrated for the same reason. Maybe it’s because of the hype of Ricky Williams chant during the draft. Maybe it’s because he plays in an “important market.” Maybe it’s the East Coast bias, but it’s not his race. Players vote for the Pro Bowl and he got in that way.

    Rush doesn’t understand that sports isn’t the real world. That is why the ESPN gig should’ve remained a dream job.

  83. “And wow, I’m Catholic too, so I am doubly screwed.” Me too. An Irish one.

    And no “doubly screwed” puns from the heathens!

  84. Being a bigot should not get you fired, especially when your job is to spew opinions. ESPN hired Rush for the same reason you draft a blitz happy defensive coordinator (like say, Buddy Ryan), even if you lose, the games are still exciting to watch. Did they expect Rush to attract non-football watchers to the sport? Did they expect Rush to draw Nascar hat wearing mullet racks away from Terry Bradshaw and his “hick done good” shtick? Of course not. They expected Rush to say something controversial and generate outrage. Now when that happens, “we are shocked, shocked we tell you!”

    And let’s face it, McNabb’s good, but not great. Otherwise the Eagle’s would be over .500 in the weak as a little girl NFC East. He’s better than Kordell, but a step under Culpepper, McNair and Vick. Are there people with a vested interest in getting blacks into more prominent positions in the NFL? Yeah, otherwise explain why Detroit got sweated for not flying in a couple of tokens before they hired Mariucci. Maybe there’s not the emphasis on the QB position now that there’s a lot of them out there, but is simply stating your opinion on the topic (an opinion that people had to guess that Rush held) a reason to have your head handed to you?

    Said as a Redskins fan and an African American.

  85. junyo,

    ESPN decided that having Rush on the show was bad for business, so they forced him out. What’s wrong with that?

  86. Joe,

    Your argument about Bennett can apply to you in reverse just as easily. Not that it’s as nefarious to be a fellow traveller to the PC police as it would be to racists, but either side can be accused of reflexiveness, but where does it get you?

    I and a few others have pointed out that McNabb’s greatness is not above debate, which is the first and basic premise of your argument that Rush’s statement must be racist. You have yet to adequately respond to our refutation!

    But I do take Curt Warner’s point about the out of touchness of Rush’s comment. My own take, not being an expert in Rush’s history, is that he was probably trying to score “We conservatives are right and the liberal media is biased and ignorant, nyah, nyah” points. Bias is to some degree inevitable, but saying the media is biased towards black quarterbacks at this stage is silly and vile.

  87. junyo, is “Nascar hat wearing mullet racks” a racial slur?

  88. Let me quote myself:

    “The media is all over him, not because he is a good golfer, but because he is a good BLACK golfer. Every other bit of golf coverage has the tone of not “who is winning this tourny”, but “how is Tiger Woods (who know, the black golfer) doing”.”

    (opps, should have been “you know,”, not “who know,”)

    I am not downplaying Tiger Woods’ ability. What I very clearly said was that he would not get the same coverage he gets (“got” rather, the novelty has faded a bit) if he were white. Anybody care to disagree with what I actually wrote vs. what you wish I wrote? And yes, I agree it appears that he may be the best golfer in history or at least right up there with the best of the best. (I’d clearly be an “idiot” to think otherwise) But even so, were he just another white male Jack Nicklaus version 2.0, the major media (going beyond just sports media) would have yawned. Golf never has gotten as much coverage as with Tiger Woods. His race is good for business.


    “And Joe 2, saying Tiger Woods is overrated because he’s black is like saying Jordan was overrated because he was black.”

    I disagree. Saying Tiger Woods is overrated because he is black would not be like saying MJ is overrated because he is black. But that is irrelevant because I never said anyone was overrated. So your analogy, besides being a false one, is irrelevant. Somebody else seems to think that’s is what I said (probably some dirty racist). Please direct your comment to that person. I said Tiger Woods has greater media attention because he is black in a white dominated field. (very close to what Rush said)

    Who gives a fuck anyway. The whole sports scene is pretty ignorant anyway. May as well spend your time watching saturday morning cartoons.

    I don’t know I bother. You’re all a bunch of racists anyway. Just try to prove otherwise – it’ll just prove how racist you truely are…

    Joe at 10:56: I agree, someone making a statement like that probably does have some racial “issues”. Well…I’m assuming the caller didn’t REALLY have a bone in his nose…

  89. I know what a mullet is. I know what a rack is. But what the hell is a mullet rack?

  90. Hey Junyo!

    remember that question to QB Doug Williams at the press conference before the 1988 superbowl, “how long have you been a black quarterback?” that was incredible.

    (as a native clevelander, that game was excellent — hrumph. the drive and fumble, indeed)


  91. *”Is Steve McNair underrated as a QB because he’s black?”


    Regarding that comment. I didn’t mean to imply he was underrated, I was making a similar comment to yours. For every player you could say is overrated for racial reasons, there’s on you can say is underrated, for the same racial reason. Was McNair ignored by D-1 schools because of race or because of choice by McNair.

    Before championship weekend last year, I was hoping for the Irish-African-American McBowl. McNair vs. McNabb. There would probably would’ve been a record for total QB rush attempts at the end of that game.

  92. Joe2,

    Regarding your claim that Tiger Woods is getting added media attention because he’s black, you’re likely correct. However, SO WHAT? The issue is NOT whether McNabb is getting added media attention, it’s whether he’s overrated, as if it’s some sort of wishful thinking or propogandizing by the media. That’s a whole different pile of jock straps!

    To clarify what I’ve been saying on this thus far, I would say that no, Rush’s statement is not inherently racist. But I would also say it was foolish and ridiculous and vile in the context it was said in, both in terms of the popular political environment and because he said it on a sports show. It wouldn’t have been as big a deal had he said it on his own political commentary show.

  93. fyodor,

    The comment got its racist content not because Rush raised the issue of McNabb’s talent, but because of the interjection of the loopy idea that he got where is is because of his race. There was no need for the analysis of McNabb’s career to have any racial component at all. Rush interjected it with his comment. People who see racial issues where there are none tend to have racial issues of their own. As do those who refuse to recognize when there’s an elephant in their living room.

    And yes, I believe that inaccuragely disparaging the achievements of black people and declaring their success to be a function of white indulgence is a racist sentitment.

  94. “And yes, I believe that inaccuragely disparaging the achievements of black people and declaring their success to be a function of white indulgence is a racist sentitment”

    yes — sounds exactly like maureen dowd’s opinion of Justice Thomas…


  95. I really can not remember the specifics. Its been alot of years and beers since then. What I do remember is that he got no respect whatsoever from the sports media in Mississippi and the southeast as a whole. His numbers were always qualified with statements that boiled down to, “Yeah, but he went to one of ‘those’ schools.” That is what I am basing my opinion on. That and the fact that the D1 colleges in MS are not power-houses, and could have used him. But, no one could get their head out of their ass long enough to sing him up.

  96. Joe,

    Well, that’s slightly different from what you said at first, in which you started your argument with the claim that McNabb’s greatness was beyond reproach.

    I agree that Rush’s interjection of the racial issue was stupid and vile under the circumstances. I disagree that it’s inherently racist. Was it racist for Ed MaCaffery to have implied that his speed was underrated because he’s white?

    As for the disparaging the achievements of black people, if Rush had said this about ALL black quarterbacks, I might start to agree that it looked like a racist pattern.

  97. The idea that McNabb isn’t a great quarterback is a minority opinion, to say the least. If someone wants to back that up with passing numbers, interceptions, observations about his playing style, I’ll dispute it, but there’s no reason to suspect racism. But to back it up with ramblings about the media and reverse racism raises questions, at least. And when it’s done by Rush Limbaugh…a pattern indeed.

    “Have you ever noticed that all the police composite sketches of criminals look like Jesse Jackson?”

    Screw Rush Limbaugh.

  98. Douglas Fletcher just summed it all up very well.

    Football sucks.

    Christ almighty, why did this asinine game ever have to catch on? As for whether this McNabb guy is “overrated” or “underrated” — how in the world do you judge his “skills” in the first place? When you watch a football game, you can’t even see a player’s face. Their bodies are wrapped in plastic gear. How do you even know it’s “McNabb” who’s out there? What do you do, squint at the TV and try to discern the numbers on players’ jerseys?

    Football sucks.

  99. http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/limbaugh.asp

    It looks like the “take the bone out of your nose and call me back” comment is probably bogus. Or at least there is no evidence of it ever having been said. If there were any evidence, it probably would be cited ad nauseum.

    So I take back what I said about Rush having “racial issues”, since the quote is more than likely false.

  100. The drug side of the story intrigues me the most. Rush, like many a conservative commentator, brushes off criticism from libertarians that the cons are hypocritical opponents of “big government,” because they are sure as hell in favor of it when that means outlawing the drug and the sex trades, passing stricter alcohol regulations, etc. Point out that certain heroes of his, such as William F. Buckley, Jr,. or Milton Friedman agree with us, and he’ll change the subject, prattle on about the govt. as a promoter of morality, a la Bill “not as prudent a husbander of his money as we would have thought” Bennett. So, if it turns out that RHL was in fact dabbling in the medical countereconomy, perhaps due to discomfort caused by his certainly frightening and career-threatening hearing loss, my response is: I don’t care how many little blue pills he bought. I will care if he continues to parrot the authoritarian line on drug legalization, especially if his access to top legal counsel spares him punishment similar to that imposed on less successful “offenders.”

    Sadly, any epiphany Rush may have on the drug question will never be expressed unless and until he is out of legal jeopardy. Taking a Sullum-like position on drugs wouldn’t sit well with a sentencing judge expecting remorse as a condition of avoiding a prison term.


  101. Okay, so libertarians don’t like sports.

  102. Rentler is just confused. American football is the greatest team sport ever devised. It is chess, plus big men hitting each other very hard, plus cheerleaders in skimpy outfits.

    It is home to the greatest spectacle is any organized competition, the 400 lb DT who suddenly finds himself with the ball.

    It is tailgating and big fat guys who wear womens clothes and pig noses.

    The NFL has the best management, marketing, and game design of any professional sports organization.

    In an age when MLB has screwed up over and over, and when no one remotely cares about the NBA until the playoffs, the NFL has created a situation where every game matters and fans can find a reason to jump up and down, scream at their TVs, and maybe throw some snack foods.

    Normal life doesn’t provide us many reasons to feel and act this way, and while some may think it is childish, to others it is something that while insignificant compared to global hunger, can be invested with rarified emotion, can create easy points of connection with strangers in a bar, and can give you a reason to be excited about a lazy sunday afternoon.

    I love football.

  103. I hate football.

  104. the media continues to coddle (hype) mcnabb by giving him credit for last years run to the playoffs.

    it was a second string quarterback that took them there .

    it was mcnabb that lost it .

    but lets hide (disregard , ignore , not mention) the fact a backup lead the eagles and mcnabb screwed it up because it would help to justify rush’ OPINION.

    and y does jim brown get to sit there and say black athletes should only hire black agents and spend thier money with black owned buisnesses with no repurcussions.
    (talk about a step backwards in race relations)

    let me guess, this isnt racist because its a black man saying f–k the white man.

    hmmm wonder if a prominent former white athlete told current white athletes to only deal with thier own color, if the media and politicians would ignore it or call for him to be beheaded.

    maybe rush was right about the medias double standard.

  105. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    URL: http://hosting.1st-host.org
    DATE: 01/20/2004 08:45:47
    I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

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