Opposition to Rush Limbaugh's Bid for Rams Grows

Sports analysts question whether players' threats to quit are just talk.

October 12, 2009, 8:59 PM

Oct. 13, 2009— -- Rush Limbaugh's bid to become a part-owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams has drawn opposition from some of the league's players, who have said they would not play for the conservative radio talk show host.

"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," New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said.

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" told "Good Morning America" today that they're interested in the action that will follow all the talk from both Limbaugh and his potential players.

"The reaction is overwhelming.," Greenberg said. "It just goes to show that Rush Limbaugh is one of the most polarizing figures in American society."

Golic predicted that a lot of the same players who are speaking out against Limbaugh now, threatening to leave the team or the NFL, would be back on the field even with Limbaugh as part-owner.

"There are some superstars in this league. Most are foot soldiers," he said. "There are a lot of players in the league who probably don't even know Rush Limbaugh. Or they don't care what he does. He's the owner of their team, but they're getting their paycheck for their job."

More than six players have spoken out against Limbaugh's bid, some pointing to quotes that were interpreted as racist during his brief tenure as an analyst on ESPN.

Among those comments were remarks in September 2003 that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was not as good as he was portrayed in the media.

"I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think that we've had here a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Limbaugh said on ESPN.

At the time, Limbaugh said people were making a mountain out of a mole hill, but six years later McNabb -- who is one of only six quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 25,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards -- has not forgotten.

"If he's rewarded to buy that, congratulations to him. I won't be in St. Louis no time soon," McNabb said.

But comments such as McNabb's and Kiwanuka's are also drawing fire. Sports commentater Stephen A. Smith said on CNN that those players are bluffing.

"Those black ballplayers that are saying that are lying through their stinking teeth," Smith said. "The New York Jets offer me $10 million, but Rush Limbaugh is offering me $20 million. I'm going to have a problem with that? Please, they are lying."

Al Sharpton Joins Opposition to Rush Limbaugh's Bid for Rams

On his radio show Monday, Limbaugh offered his own criticism of the situation, blaming the media for the growing controversy.

"They have to go somewhere, find concocted quotes which are now bordering on slander, libel, whatever it is, and I never said, and they believe it," Limbaugh said, adding he cannot talk about the specific details of his bid.

Yet Greenberg said he would be "absolutely stunned" if Limbaugh's bid goes through.

"They are a machine," he said of the NFL. "They are so overwhelmingly popular. ... They don't need the additional attention. I don't see there's a whole lot of upside for them and it is obvious what some of the downside could be."

The Rev. Al Sharpton has also joined the fray and asked the NFL to block Limbaugh's bid.

In a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell, published in full in the Oct. 9 New York Daily News, Sharpton wrote: "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."

Sharpton's letter followed the unusual move by DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players union, who called the commissioner and is rallying the union against Limbaugh's attempt to buy the team.

In an e-mail to the union's executive committee on Saturday, Smith wrote: "Sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."

The NFL does not talk about potential sales, making it impossible to know whether Limbaugh's bid could be a done deal or just a Hail Mary.

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