Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's foray into becoming an NFL owner as part of a group bidding on the struggling St. Louis Rams has liberal activists and commentators up in arms, including Al Sharpton who apparently is not at all a controversial figure himself..
Battista blessed Limbaugh with a "conservative" ideological label, but following standard Times news practice, the inflammatory race-baiting activist Sharpton was not. Sharpton's pressure group, the National Action Network, was misleadingly termed "a civil rights organization." The Times has a long pattern of ignoring Sharpton's racially inflammatory past, including his spread of the Tawana Brawley rape hoax and calling Jews "diamond merchants" during the racial disturbance in Crown Heights.
From Battista's story:
Al Sharpton urged the N.F.L. in a letter released Monday to reject the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's potential bid to buy the St. Louis Rams. He also asked for a meeting with N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell.
It was the latest indication of the controversy Limbaugh's involvement in the bid has caused, months before N.F.L. owners are expected to consider a new ownership group for the Rams.
In his letter, Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization, said that the N.F.L. should reject the bid by Limbaugh because he would be bad for the league. Goodell is in Boston, attending owners meetings through Wednesday, and will respond to the letter when he returns, the league spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Following is an excerpt from Sharpton's letter. Check out the first reason why Sharpton thinks Limbaugh should be rejected:
Rush Limbaugh has been divisive and anti-NFL on several occasions with comments about NFL Players including Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb and his recent statement that the NFL was beginning to look like a fight between the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons, was disturbing (New York Daily News, October 9th).
If anyone at the Times saw the irony of the inflammatory Sharpton accusing someone else of being "divisive," it didn't make print.
Times sports columnist George Vecsey also thought the likes of Limbaugh had no business in the rarified world of professional football team ownership. In his Tuesday column, "32 Voices Louder Than Limbaugh's," Vecsey was more condescending than vitriolic, treating Limbaugh like an uncouth upstart.
Using a semi-sarcastic tone, Vecsey vented his relief that the National Football League "has a written policy governing the acceptance - and let us hope rejection - of potential owners."
This is reassuring given the recent announcement by Rush Limbaugh, a chap who talks on the radio, that he is interested in buying into the St. Louis Rams. Limbaugh is seeking a partnership with Dave Checketts, who has hitherto amassed a good reputation in New York, Salt Lake City and St. Louis.
When observed recently, Limbaugh was braying with glee because the American city of Chicago had been turned down in its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. His vicious delight had nothing to do with the dubious economics of holding the Olympics or the mixed support from the citizens of Chicago. He depicted the decision as a defeat for President Obama, who had traveled to Copenhagen to stick up for his adopted home city.
Vecsey hinted Limbaugh was a racist:
But Limbaugh comes with other weighty history. This is the bloke who, after an ugly brawl in the N.B.A. in 2004, recommended that the league be renamed the Thug Basketball Association. He also likened the two teams to the Crips and the Bloods, two national gangs. Nice. This posture may play well out where car radios are tuned to Limbaugh, but it should not play with N.F.L. owners and the cities they represent.
Limbaugh went on television Monday morning with Jamie Gangel of MSNBC, insisting he's not such a bad fellow, and surely not a racist, but let's not lull ourselves into accepting the way he spews code words to his constituency. He is not about economic conservatism or political conservatism, which have an honorable place. The quivering anger toward President Obama is quite visceral in Dave Checketts's new best friend.
Owners are entitled to their political beliefs but, because the N.F.L. has made admirable steps in hiring minority coaches and general managers, letting a virulent exhibitionist like Limbaugh into the club would be a bad sign to players and fans. No matter how much money he has, he would drag the whole league down toward his level.
Some players have already said publicly they would never join a team even partially owned by Limbaugh. Antipathy by free agents could hurt any franchise, particularly the Rams, who have lost 15 straight games.
What a shame if Limbaugh came in and ruined the Rams' recent winning formula.