Rush Limbaugh, America’s most popular practitioner of race-baiting, is part of a group that’s attempting to purchase the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. This play sounds like a joke, so let’s be done with the punchline: Finally, the GOP’s ultra-magnetic MC may fulfill his lifelong dream and own a bunch of big, black bucks.
The Rams are one of the worst teams in the league, and Limbaugh wouldn’t be approved in the near future. Considering this, the situation ain’t exactly Glenn Beck dotting ‘i’s with Jerry Buss for the keys to the Lakers. Yet the gambit by Limbaugh’s investment group—which also includes former New York Knicks owner and proud Mormon Dave Checketts—is being treated seriously by the NFL’s means of production.
Mathias Kiwanuka and Bart Scott, defensive standouts with the Giants and Jets, respectively, have proactively stated that they wouldn’t play for a team owned by the right-wing broadcaster. New Players Association President DeMaurice Smith sent a note of protest to Commissioner Roger Goodell. It read, in part, “[S]port in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends.”
Oh how things done changed over a half dozen seasons. In 2003, while serving as an ESPN pre-game analyst, Limbaugh labeled the great Donovan McNabb pro sports most visible affirmative action case. Limbaugh’s TV deskmates, including Tom Jackson, sat passive and then-NFLPA President Gene Upshaw did nothing, aside from perhaps offer his backside to put out one of Limbaugh’s stogies.
Let’s be real for a minute. Aside from the double standard that the (mostly white) coaches and (majority black) players are given, what’s interesting about the Limbaugh development isn’t the prospective owner’s fondness for the language of white supremacy. What compels is the way granting him a stake would be only an overt expression of the Republican Party ethos.
Last month it was revealed that NFL owners overwhelmingly donate to the GOP. The league cultivates advantageous relationships with the media so that stories which cast the NFL in a negative light are buried. (During the CBS game that led into Sunday night’s 60 Minutes report on the disastrous effects of football player collisions, promos for the show highlighted winged divers rather than a story that would clearly be of interest to fans.) And, while it’s impossible to prove, this observer remains convinced that Bush/Cheney would not have been able to sustain the drumbeat into Iraq without the ceaseless hardware display that the already-militarily stylized sport showcased in the wake of 2001’s terror attacks.
For all we know, the men who own pro-football and reap its earnings might hold views akin to those of the infamous new guy seeking membership in their club. Paul Mooney’s timeless line is, “White men don’t have to jump; they own the whole team.” If Rush Limbaugh takes the St. Louis Rams’ reins, all that may be new is the transparency of their perspective.
Donnell Alexander is co-author (with Bruce Williams) of Rollin' with Dre (One World/Ballantine, 2008). His forthcoming book is The Chronic: The Last Album that Changed the World (MTV/Simon & Schuster). He has yet to come across anyone he knows on XTube.