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The NFL Must Flush Rush | The Nation

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The NFL Must Flush Rush

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Editor's Note: A quote about the merits of slavery attributed to Rush Limbaugh has been removed from this article. In a broadcast on October 12, Limbaugh denied making the statement. Our source for the quote was a Washington Post column by Mike Freeman. Dave Zirin's followup to this article appears here.

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Dave Zirin
Dave Zirin
Dave Zirin, The Nation’s sports correspondent, is the author, most recently, of Game Over: How Politics Has...

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Ariyana Smith lay on the court for four and a half minutes before her team’s game on November 29. She did not know that she would be the first in a historic movement of athletes speaking out against police violence.

Andrew Hawkins was morally compelled to whack the hornets nest that is the Cleveland police union, knowing they would sting.

National Football League owners could be on the verge of a catastrophic error in judgment. In a league that is 70 percent African-American, an unapologetic racist is in talks to buy a team. Yes, Rush Limbaugh, along with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts, is close to buying the St. Louis Rams. In 2003 Limbaugh infamously lasted less than a month as an NFL commentator on ESPN after saying the Philadelphia Eagles' Donavon McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.

Limbaugh said to KMOX radio, "Dave and I are part of a bid to buy the Rams, and we are continuing the process. But I can say no more because of a confidentiality clause in our agreement with Goldman Sachs." So Rush Limbaugh, champion of East Coast elite-bashing, is in financial cahoots with bailout world champion Goldman Sachs.

But financial scuzziness aside, Limbaugh's bid must be stopped. The NFL owners have the power to nix any prospective owner, and if they have a shred of conscience in their overfed, underworked bodies, they should collectively veto Limbaugh's joining their exclusive club.

This has nothing to do with Limbaugh's conservative politics. Most NFL owners are to the right of Dick Cheney. Over twenty years, officials on twenty-three of the thirty-two NFL clubs have donated more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Most of them are also anonymous figures on the sports landscape. However, with Limbaugh at the helm, the face of one of the most valuable sports properties in the world would officially be a person who has a history of brazen contempt for people of African heritage.

How can the NFL in good conscience embrace an owner who once said, "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

That's not all. Regarding the NAACP, Limbaugh said:

The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

[Quote Removed: See Editor's Note]

Recently, on life in "Obama's America":

The white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, "Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on."

And finally, in a league made up of predominately African-American athletes, how can you have an owner who says, "[Black people] are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?"

You might think that NFL players with their nonguaranteed contracts and short shelf life may not be the first people to speak out against Limbaugh. But you'd be wrong.

New York Giant Mathias Kiwanuka said in the New York Daily News, "I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants; it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play."

McNabb said in his weekly press conference, "If he's rewarded to buy them, congratulations to him. But I won't be in St. Louis anytime soon."

New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott said, "I can only imagine how his players would feel.... He could offer me whatever he wanted; I wouldn't play for him."

Retired player Roman Oben said, "Character is a constant point of emphasis for NFL and team officials when it comes to the players; potential owners should be held to the same level of scrutiny and accountability."

Oben is absolutely right. In a league where commissioner Roger Goodell constantly drones on about "character," the idea that a prominent bigot could rise to a position of power would be an example of unforgivable hypocrisy. Tell the NFL owners: you must flush Rush.

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