The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, September 30, 2003  

The Michael Savage of Football Gets Hammered in Philly

Just wondering . . . How’s this story playing outside of Philadelphia?

Rush Limbaugh, ESPN, Sunday, September 28, assessing the talents of Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Donovan McNabb:

I think the sum total of what you’re all saying is that Donovan McNabb is regressing, he’s going backwards. And . . . I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go.

I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well; I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.

I think he got a lot of credit for the defensive side of the ball winning games for this team.

McNabb responds (“McNabb Disregards Rush’s Idiocy,” Philadelphia Daily News):

It’s sad that you’ve got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal.

Eagles coach Andy Reid declines to respond directly to Limbaugh’s remarks, and says (same article):

I trust Donovan’s talents and his contributions to Philadelphia.

Former Eagles receiver, now a radio analyst, Mike Quick, responds (same article):

When “Jimmy the Greek” had his comments that got him ousted, I think this comment is even worse than that. I think we’ve progressed. . . . Rush Limbaugh is a right-wing bigot who shouldn’t even be doing football.

Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News responds (same article):

The world must look a whole lot different, when you have your head firmly lodged in your hindquarters. That’s the only explanation I can figure for Rush Limbaugh’s ugly insinuations during Sunday’s pregame show on ESPN, when Limbaugh blithely smeared the accomplishments of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, suggesting that McNabb gets more credit than he deserves because he is black.

Rich Hoffmann of the Philadelphia Daily News responds (“So Now He’s a Color Analyst, Too”):

A short argument ensued on the ESPN set -- that’s why Limbaugh is there, to start short arguments -- but it was a football argument and nothing more. Limbaugh’s black-quarterback comments were ignored. His easy dismissal of everything that McNabb has accomplished was not challenged. His cavalier, hurtful words were left to sit there and sting. On the central issue, nobody took the bully on.

And so, on national television, McNabb was allowed to be reduced to a stereotype once again. He lives, he breathes, he quarterbacks -- but it has never been that simple for Donovan McNabb and you wonder if it ever will be. […]

If you took 5 minutes to look at the statistics and to study the history of the game, you would see that McNabb is for real. After 2 years as a starter . . . McNabb’s numbers absolutely blew away the early numbers put up by guys to whom he is often compared, guys like Brett Favre and John Elway. The stats aren’t even close. […]

[T]he notion that the media somehow had to invent McNabb’s excellence because it needed a black quarterback to portray as successful just mocks the reality of the NFL in 2003. […]

At one point Sunday, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said that the Eagles have made their big-money investment in McNabb and have to stick with him. Limbaugh replied, “I’m saying that it’s a good investment. Don’t misunderstand. I just don’t think he’s as good as everybody said he has been.” But if you disagree, if you think McNabb is a better player than Limbaugh does, he says it must be because you are somehow blinded by the color of McNabb’s skin.

With that, you can only wonder about what’s sadder: that Rush Limbaugh insists on living in such a world, or that he insists on dragging Donovan McNabb into it with him.

Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer responds (“Penalize Rush for Illegal Use of the Mouth”):

The sick thing is, this is exactly what ESPN had in mind when the all-sports network hired veteran provocateur Rush Limbaugh for its Sunday NFL pregame show. You can imagine the meeting. The ESPN bigwigs must have needed drool cups to handle the runoff when they discussed the controversy Limbaugh would generate.

Well, here it is. Just be advised, ESPN, that you’re not fooling anyone. You brought this tired act out of his radio closet, where he rants to people who already agree with him, to stir things up. Prepare to get spattered. […]

Here’s your mistake, Rush. You stepped out of your radio comfort zone, where “Dittoheads” either echo your twisted view of America or you can cut them off. You stepped into a place where your bluff -- and that’s all it ever has been -- is easily called.

The only thing tough about this is deciding where to begin. How about with “the media”?

Conservative sleight-of-hand artists like Limbaugh love to use the label “the media" (alternately “the liberal media”) as a kind of blanket insult. Well, guess what, Rush? You’ve got a nationally syndicated radio show. You have your own Web site. You had a national TV show. Now you’re on ESPN every Sunday morning.





Was that slow enough for you to grasp? You are the media. […]

As you can see, the story’s not playing so well here in Philadelphia.

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