Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Discussing Limbaugh Bid – Not What You’d Expect; Death Knell of New Year’s Day Bowl Tradition

Since starting this blog almost four months ago I have tried not to veer into the world of politics too often. It isn't because of the people who write the inevitable, "stick to sports," posts or notes or even because I know my politics are way left of a majority of those who follow sports. I have a friend, Slugger White, who is a rules official on The PGA Tour who is as far right as I am left who likes to say, "John, you're so far left you've almost come all the way around to the right."

That said, there is no way to NOT discuss Rush Limbaugh and his bid to become an owner of the St. Louis Rams. To be honest, my feelings on the subject may surprise people. I really don't care if Limbaugh becomes an NFL owner. It isn't as if we're talking about the United States Senate or The Supreme Court--both entities that have some pretty shaky people among their membership that conduct work and make decisions far more important than whether to go to an 18 game schedule.

The NFL may be the most image conscious entity in the U.S. It is at least as powerful as it is image-conscious. Remember, this is the league that bullied ESPN into dropping a fictional show depicting life in the NFL because it didn't like the way players and owners were being portrayed. The fact that the league cared says a lot about the league. The fact that the TV network, which considers itself all knowing and all powerful folded, also says a lot about the league. That's why I used to refer to Paul Tagliabue as "Don Tags," when he was commissioner.

We all know who Limbaugh is and what he stands for. His Donovan McNabb comment six years ago was simply stupid--although it is worth noting that ESPN didn't fire him for saying it, it fired him because of the reaction to him saying it. Little Mark Shapiro, who is now one of Danny Snyder's henchmen (he's the guy who got Six Flags underwater literally and figuratively) in Washington, initially defended Limbaugh.

Limbaugh has said a lot worse things than that, including recently saying he hoped The President of the United States fails at the job. Look, I don't care whether your politics are right or left or in-between, you don't openly root against the President. I certainly didn't root against George W. Bush. I simply disagreed--vehemently--with him. Limbaugh, as proven by the Michael J. Fox episode and others, is a mean, vicious little man.

That doesn't mean he can't own an NFL team. To begin with, even though most won't publicly admit it, a lot of the owners aren't very far from Limbaugh politically--which actually isn't a relevant part of the conversation anyway. If Keith Olbermann wanted to buy an NFL team he would be less than welcome in the owners club but would be no more or less qualified to own a team than Limbaugh.

Roger Goodell isn't the son of a politician (the late U.S. Senator Charles E. Goodell) for nothing. He knows his constituencies. One is the players union. Although the players have no say in who owns a team and most will play for anyone who waves the right amount of money at them (witness Snyder and the Redskins) he also knows he's got a tough contract negotiation on his hands right now and doesn't need another hot-button issue walking into the room. He is also being consistent: he's said from the start that he wants to hold players to a higher standard of behavior than in the past. He needs to do the same for owners, coaches and anyone who works for the league.

In the end though, it will be the owners who will decide whether Limbaugh's group gets the chance to buy the Rams. No doubt many of them are hoping that someone outbids his group so they don't even have to debate it. It takes 24 of 32 votes to approve the purchase of a team and, with Goodell probably quietly lobbying against Limbaugh (image again) it may be tough to get those votes unless the Limbaugh bid simply blows away the competition financially. Owners do have the right to turn down an ownership bid, that's been long established, and the Phoenix Coyotes court case re-established that point recently.

Here's the irony in all this: owning an NFL team would be a bad thing for Limbaugh. Once he's an owner he would have to muzzle himself on a lot of issues that have made him so popular with his base--the far right wing. You can be sure Goodell and the owners would make it clear to him in the vetting process that he would have to "live up to the NFL standards of behavior." That's not something tangible you can wrap your arms around but some of Limbaugh's past comments would certainly fall outside those parameters. One would guess that screaming into a radio microphone that someone who called the President of the United States a liar during a joint session of Congress should NOT apologize for that act would be an example of behavior not approved by the owners. (even though I guarantee some of them would agree with Limbaugh).

There's part of me that would like to see the Limbaugh bid go forward if only because it will be fascinating to see how the NFL handles it. In the end, the owners and Goodell will probably find some way to squirm out of a Limbaugh ownership and when they do you can bet the rants coming from ole Rush will be a hoot because the guy doesn't deal with any sort of rejection very well. In fact, he might be the one person on earth who can walk into an NFL owners meeting and have the biggest ego in the room. That's saying a lot.

The funniest thing in all this was Limbaugh's quote about how it will make people "nuts," to see him work himself into the mainstream and this is one way for him to do it. Actually Rush, none of us really care if you work your way into the mainstream. If you want to share a room with Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones and be told you have to keep your mouth shut be our guest. You deserve to be an NFL owner. And, in many ways, the NFL owners deserve you right back.

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There's an item in the paper today that I believe officially signals the death knell for college football as a serious New Year's Day tradition. Remember the old days when the four (then five with the Fiesta Bowl) New Year's bowls were the traditional finale of the college football season? Playing on New Year's Day meant something, you had to be GOOD to make a New Year's Day bowl. That's been watered down severely with the BCS moving it's so--called championship game back a week and taking at least one other bowl off the New Year's Day calendar. Now you have The Gator Bowl (which last year included a five loss Clemson team) and The Citrus Bowl and a bowl named for a steakhouse (albeit one that I like) played on New Year's Day.

And now we are going to have The Dallas Bowl played on New Year's Day. This is it, the end for New Year's Day to matter at all except when The Rose Bowl is being played. Follow me here for a minute: The Dallas Bowl is going to be played IN The Cotton Bowl. The reason for that is that, even though The Cotton Bowl was recently renovated those who run The Cotton Bowl game moved it to Jerry Jones's new palace. So, the people who run The Cotton Bowl stadium decided to create a new bowl. It will match mid-level teams from The Big Twelve and Conference-USA. So, you could have a New Year's Day matchup between, say, Colorado with a 6-6 record and Central Florida at 7-5. Oh joy, just we need to start the New Year.

It's bad enough that the NCAA hands out bowl bids to anyone who has a dozen ugly blazers lying around but can't it at least put some kind of limit on what gets on New Year's Day? Can't we have SOME tiny respect for tradition? Apparently not. I guess I'll watch the outdoor hockey game.

16 comments:

Vince Spence said...

What does Slugger White think about Rush? We knew YOUR feelings before you wrote the article.

"Rush Limbaugh is...a mean, vicious little man". That is about what we expected. No surprises there...

Anonymous said...

Good points on Limbaugh bid, and what I think most outlets missed when the story initially hit. His opinions shouldn't exclude him from bidding, and in the end players wouldn't boycott his team, its the rules that he'd have to abide by that make this whole discussion moot at some point.

I don't see Rush giving up his seat at the microphone to own a team, which would almost certainly be a must.

Shaun E in PC said...

Goodell needs to reiterate to all parties touching the shield: involvement with the NFL is a privilege, not a right. Eventually, Goodell will need to come down hard on Raiders coach Cable and this potential bid by Limbaugh. There might be some owners who are bigots, but lack Limbaugh’s public forum.

Vin said...

Good article about an annoying topic: Limbaugh. The guy is almost a terrorist.

thedean said...

Rush was and is still a disc jockey but instead of playing records that are popular he is just saying what is popular. Radio pays based on popularity and Rush has always and will always be in radio for a payday!!!!!!!!

Club4911 said...

Feinstein -

I wish to take issue with your comments around Rush saying he hoped the President "failed". Your comments are indicative of someone who only reads (liberal) media accounts of what Rush says, instead or listening for yourself.

Rush said that he hoped the President's policies that he campaigned for, such as Health Care Reform, Closing of Gitmo, Stimulus Package, would not be passed into law. Such a failure to pass his initiatives, would then be a failure of the Obama presidency based upon his campaign promises. If one honestly believes these policies to be the wrong course of action for the country, you would of course hope for the failure of their passage, and as a result the failure of Obama's presidency.

In the same vein, a patriotic Democrat, surely hoped that Bush Jr.'s policies of his second term, privatization of Social Security, Gitmo, etc, would not succeed. And they worked vehemently so that they did not, in the case of Social Security reform for one, and that resulted in a failure of his presidency.

It is immature and unrational to think that all Americans hope for the success of their President. You may wish him well, and hope that he leads us well in times of crisis, but if you disagree with him (regardless of political persuasion) you are by your own convictions, hoping that his policies do not succeed.

Anonymous said...

If Limbaugh gets any piece of this franchise, it will collaspe the Rams. The Rams appear to not know how to run an NFL franchise showing their fans that they can trade all their marquee players, the inability to hire a quality coaching staff, and continued ability to blow draft picks. You bring Limbaugh into the organization and no free agents will sign with this team. This all equates to no ass's in the seats. One last thing, it seems that Rush is a big piece of crap for a human being. Go Rams, try to do the right thing. I don't want to have to burn my jersey.

Anonymous said...

Feinstein-

Rush Limbaugh didn't say he hoped Obama failed, Limbaugh said if Obama were to govern with SOCIALIST POLICIES, he hoped those WOULD FAIL.

Anonymous said...

Well, Checkett's has supposedly decided that they can't win the bidding, and NFL ownership approval, with Rush involved.

Rush going to turn against rich conservative folks now?

Anonymous said...

Limbaugh played the leftys like a violin. He went into this knowing damn well he would be unacceptable and could play the victim. He is an
entertainer in the theater of politics and he has been all over the news and those who jump to his defense are just as guilty as those who attack him. I don't like the man and what he stands for, but he is laughing all the way to the bank where he is in line right ahead of the witch Ann Coulter. Both play both sides to their own personal gain. Isn't it obvious???
Sammy

Anonymous said...

I agree he is laughing his way to the bank. Just as a matter of protecting their image, the NFL would never allow a polarizing figure like that be a owner.

But, it gives a lot of columnists something to talk about ...

Anonymous said...

So would Roger Goodell speak out again the VP if he wanted to buy a 7-11 or a QuickieMart? I mean after all, VP Joe Biden DID say denigrative comments about my fellow Indians and I.

joe1stein said...

I heard you on the radio say Limbaugh says hateful things. I would love to know what he has said you consider hateful? I would have loved to call in and confront you with your liberal lies. Were they the bogus comments that Rush never said that some liberal put on his wiki page that other so called journalist are using as their source. An everone brings up McNabb. As a lifelong Eagles fan, when Rush made the comments, the Eagles had not won a game and McNabb had been bad up to that part of the season. McNabb did recover but as an Eagles fan, I was very frustrated with their season to that point. Please get the story right.

Joe S

Vince Spence said...

John,

Try to keep plenty of political stuff in your sports blog. It seems to be working just fine.

One day, pick a liberal and murder him and next day a conservative. You will make tons of friends and your traffic count on your blog will go bananas.

Anonymous said...

The things Al Sharpton said about Rush Limbaugh in protest of his NFL co-ownership bid are hilarious since they're the exact same things that people say all the time about Sharpton (Sharpton calling Limbaugh divisive would like like Al Davis calling Dan Snyder a bad owner). Yet I suspect that there would be no controversy whatsoever if Sharpton sought to become an NFL minority owner.

As for Roger Goodell, we all know what type of commissioner is he with how quick he is to crackdown on player behavior yet hasn't even lifted a finger regarding the Tom Cable situation.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Roger Goodell...Are you aware that his wife is none other than Jane Skinner of FOX----I said
F O X News??? Go figure....

Sammy