The Media Zone

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If Rush Limbaugh buys the St. Louis Rams, Will it Become All White or All Right?

Will Blacks play football for Massah Limbaugh?

imageimageThe news reported that radical right wing talk show agitator-Grand Poo-Bah, Rush Limbaugh and St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts, are interested in making a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams, the NFL, basement-dwelling franchise team.

It's a good time to buy, to be sure.  But Sports commentators and players alike have erupted like Vesuvius at hearing the idea of Limbaugh buying into the NFL ownership megabuck club. It would, they contend, inevitably bring his brand of polarized politics into the picture--not to mention his brand of racism.

The critics may be right. Perhaps there is no way that it could be otherwise, given Limbaugh's verbal track record of what he calls fearlessly calling a spade a spade, as he panders to his White is Right, Right is White constituency of self-described ditto-heads.

Limbaugh's tattered, torn, and terrible racial sensitivity index, is well known. Remember his comments and repeated airing of the parody about "Barack the Magic Negro?"

Yes, many football players leave the game, vote Republican and even run for congress as Republicans (e.g., Steve Largent and J.C. Watts), or, like Lynn Swan, run for Governor in Pennsylvania. But a Black player signing on to a team owned by Limbaugh is a whole other Rubicon to cross. There's workin' for the man and then there's workin' for this man!

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Let's get serious. The NFL is almost 70% Black and Limbaugh has repeatedly derided what he considers reverse racism in this country. Recall the notorious observations Limbaugh made about the Philadelphia Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb as a "color commentator" for ESPN's NFL Countdown. Limbaugh quipped that McNabb imagewas an overrated, affirmative action selection by the franchise to satisfy the media's desire to have a Black QB succeed.image

ESPN fired Limbaugh soon after the firestorm that observation ignited. Then there's the comment he made on his own show more recently, like, "Look, let me put it to you this way: The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

For racists, Limbaugh is a gift that keeps on giving. For minorities, he's something else that keeps on giving.

Thus, it's highly possible that if Limbaugh succeeded in his Ram gambit, few Black players, free agents or otherwise, would soon sign on to play for the sub-low-ranked franchise. As Bart Scott of the N.Y. Jets proclaimed e.g., "I wouldn't play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can't be bought".

Seriously. Workin' for this man! Rush Limbaugh: co-owner of the St. Louis Rams! Can you just imagine the motorized, hyperbolic rants spilling from NBA's Hall of Famer Charles Barkley's media magnetizing mouth.

The NFL wants to keep the St. Louis Rams franchise viable. Yes, it's true that arch conservative talk radio lightning rod/darling home town boy makes good, Rush Limbaugh, promises sound, fury, media coverage AND the pledge to keep the franchise in St. Louis. Tantalizing-to a point!

But there's a catch. Even if all the Missourians, conservatives, Ditto Heads, and football die-hards in the U.S. contributed to the economic viability of a Limbaugh-owned franchise; even if they attended games, sprang for PPV or premium channel game coverage, there's a fatal short fall with which to be reckoned: you've got to have players -- good players, not wannabes and hand-me-downs -- to compete.

It's doubtful, even if a race-deaf, all-white team or a team with Black players who would play the Faust card for their "opportunity," that the Rams could break out of the league cellar. Truth is, today, without Black players on an NFL team, you might as well be playing in the JFL (Japanese Football League).image

If I were Dave Chicketts, I would no more enter into franchise partnership with the likes of Limbaugh, regardless of how deep are his pockets, than I would partner up with his logic IQ-challenged, distaff, foot-in-mouth cohort, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.image

Yes, some have suggested that if Limbaugh did buy the Rams, he'd behave himself, keep a low profile so as to not scare off fans and TV deals. Sure, just like race-insensitive team owner Marge Schott did with the MLB Cincinnati Reds.

When it comes to the passions of prejudice and the bellowing of bigots, the Id dominates. When the microphone or the camera beckons, that's catnip for exhibitionists like Rush. The invitation to the media dance would be simply irresistible.image

And an  NFL franchise suicide-by-mouth is the inevitable tale that would be told.image

 

Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D., is Senior Editor of the Journal of Media Psychology and Emeritus Professor of Media Psychology at Cal State, Los Angeles.

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