by | Oct 16, 2009 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Rush Limbaugh finally met something more conservative than himself: the NFL.

That, more than any other reason, is why Limbaugh was kicked to the curb as a potential owner of the St Louis Rams.

Oh, he may claim it’s a left wing conspiracy (doesn’t he always?), but the club he was trying to enter could teach the Republican Party a thing or two about conservative. Remember, this is a league that fines players for having their jerseys untucked.

Limbaugh’s mistakes began with his mouth. He told his large radio audience about his planned involvement with ownership. Many figured he would be an active participant in team decisions. But that, apparently, was not what Dave Checketts had in mind. Checketts, who owns the Blues, was leading the group trying to buy the Rams.

“Rush was to be a limited partner,” Checketts said in a statement, “as such, he would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations.”

In other words, write your check and shut up. The NFL has never cared for loudmouths – especially when they don’t have the fattest wallet. Limbaugh was, near as I can tell, a guy with some cash who wanted in. I’m sure Checketts was happy to have his money, but he also knows it’s not hard to find another bank account with a lower profile.

“It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions,” Checketts said.

Out he goes. Bum-Rushed. Choosing up sides

To think this was about anything else is to play into Limbaugh’s limited and manipulative view of the world. He draws a line down the middle, then points fingers at the other side. Predictably, on his radio program Wednesday, he tried to label the mess as “about the ongoing effort by the left in this country … to destroy conservatism.” On Thursday he said, “So Obama’s America is quite possibly going to include the National Football League.”

Are you kidding me? Have you ever been to an NFL owners meeting? It ain’t exactly a Grateful Dead concert. These are some of the most conservative folks you’ll ever meet. They are about business, capitalism, tax breaks, patriotism, and I would bet you they voted more red state than blue.

But mostly what they are about is money – something Limbaugh should understand. He was only invited in because he has it. And he was kicked out because he might have cost it.

Checketts wants to own a team, not win an election, and bad press means diminished chances. Limbaugh is out not because of criticism from the left, but because he couldn’t keep silent about it.

“This is not about me,” he declared on his show.

Come on. It’s only about him. A game of money

No surprise, when Limbaugh got involved, the media rehashed his comments about quarterback Donovan McNabb. In 2003, when Limbaugh briefly worked for ESPN, he suggested the media were pulling for McNabb because he was black. It was silly and showed how out of touch he really was.

But it was also six years ago. He could have ignored it, let the dust resettle, or even said, “Hey, I learned from that whole thing, let’s not revisit it.”

Instead, he jumped into the victim sandbox, whining that the left was out to get him, saying things like “race hustlers” wanted his head. All this did was amplify an old story, and lead NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to say, “I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about.”

Exactly. The NFL is about money, big money, every Sunday. Its owners, from William Clay Ford to Ralph Wilson, mostly let their players and coaches do the talking. Even Dallas’ Jerry Jones, who sticks his face everywhere, mostly talks football. And does Jerry strike you as the flaming liberal?

Limbaugh wants you to believe he has been attacked, but he is flailing at ghosts. Had he kept his wallet open and his mouth closed, he might still be all he was ever going to be – a minority partner who got free seats and a financial statement.

Instead, he’s out, with nothing but a mountain of material for his radio show. Who knows? Maybe that’s what he wanted all along.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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