Rushed Judgments on Limbaugh Buying Rams

Public Affairs Consultant specializing in Issue Advocacy and Strategic Communications

As someone who dislikes the current ownership of the St. Louis Rams as much as I dislike Rush Limbaugh, I was not disappointed that the self-appointed head of the GOP was dropped from a bid to purchase what used to be my favorite football team.

Limbaugh’s politics don’t offend me; I just don’t like him, and neither do many of the NFL’s owners and players who objected to his potential ownership of an NFL team.

I agree that his conflicts with leaders in the African American community would be bad for business, so the NFL owners had every right to vote against his bid just as they could vote against Howard Stern owning a team or anyone else who would be a lightening rod of undesired publicity.

Yet, I am amused that the reasons why they objected to Limbaugh owning an NFL team had to do with his past criticisms of black athletes and politicians.

These criticisms have come from the same people who support an NFL team named after what many Native American leaders consider to be the most offensive term one can refer to Native Americans. Or, at least the owners have never raised the issue as long as the Washington Redskins continue to make the league money.

Back in the early 1990s, comedian Chris Rock did a witty routine about how people would feel if a team from New York was named after the offensive term for African Americans. He added other slurs to describe other ethnic groups from other cities to make his point. At the end of his bit, it wasn’t funny after all—Chris Rock had a good point.

So when I hear holier than thou NFL owners say they would have voted against allowing Limbaugh to purchase the Rams and players say they wouldn’t have played for him, I have to shake my head.

If the NFL is going to get upset over racially offensive comments, then it should also be upset that there is still a team called the Redskins. Apparently, the name doesn’t offend most people, but it does offend a large group of people of Native American descent, and I doubt anyone would consider naming a new team that today.

Incidentally, this franchise was the last professional sports team to sign or draft a black player. Before that happened in 1962, the legendary Washington Post sportswriter Shirley Povich described a 1960 Redskins game against the Browns that star fullback Jim Brown “fled the 25 yards like a man in an uncommon hurry and the Redskins’ goal line, at least, became interracial.”

By the way, why would the Rams’ owners want to sell in a terrible economic year and a so far winless season? Wouldn’t their value presumably increase in a year or two as the economy recovers and their offense begins to show a pulse?

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