Things are getting a little hot in the kitchen for Rush Limbaugh right now. I don't believe that Rush Limbaugh is a racist or that his comments on ESPN were racist. However, I do believe that Rush made a serious error in judgment with his recent comments. While he doesn't deserve to be crucified, he does deserve to be criticized. For those who have been hiding in a ditch for the last few days, here is what Rush said during ESPN's NFL pre-game show:
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
If you take out the second sentence in that quote, most of you reading this article would still today not realize that Rush Limbaugh even had a job on ESPN. But the reason I find that sentence so inflammatory isn't because it's racist; it's because it's wrong.
I'm not sure what I have more passion for, sports or politics. I run a fantasy football league and follow the NFL very closely. While Donovan McNabb might be off to a slow start this year, he has been one of the league's top quarterbacks for the past two seasons. He's exciting to watch, and he scores touchdowns both passing and rushing. He puts up great stats, which is why he was the first quarterback drafted in my fantasy league this year.
So while I do not think Rush Limbaugh or his comments are racist, I do believe that Rush went too far by drawing a connection to favorable media accolades and McNabb's race. I never gave much thought to the race of quarterbacks in the NFL until that comment, and now it's unfortunate that I do. Especially since I have not seen the "social concern" Rush mentions in the media. I have seen several articles recently questioning McNabb's ability to remain a top quarterback in the NFL. But I've also seen those same articles written about a white quarterback, Rich Gannon.
If you're going to make such a potentially controversial statement linking someone's race to the media coverage they get, then you'd better make damn sure it's as obvious to everyone else as it is to you. This is where Rush fails in his analysis.
Is McNabb overrated? Quite possibly. But you could argue that Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, and Jeff Garcia (all white, All-American guy, quarterbacks) are overrated as well. Did sports writers become desirous to see nice, clean-cut, white guys successful in the NFL? Maybe, but you'd be hard pressed to make a serious argument about that. Just as you'd be hard pressed to make a serious argument that sports writers are desirous to see a black quarterback successful and would skew their coverage based on that bias.
Donavan McNabb isn't breaking any color barriers here. We've had successful black quarterbacks in the NFL for many years now. Even a Superbowl winner. The circumstances and motivation behind overrating Donavan McNabb based on his skin color simply don't hold up to scrutiny.
This might just be Rush's opinion, but an opinion on such a controversial and sensitive subject should have solid facts to back it up. One could argue that McNabb is overrated because sportswriters want to see a young, clean-cut guy who loves his mother become successful. Or because the new fad of running quarterbacks is in vogue right now. Or because they want to see a successful quarterback from Syracuse. Who knows? But an intelligent man like Rush should know better than to throw out the comment he did without better facts to back it up.
Does this make Rush a racist? No. Maybe he forgot that he was talking to NFL fans and not just the ditto-heads on his radio show. Unfortunately, his comments will only give fuel to his worst critics to attack him with accusations of racism that are as baseless as his claim about McNabb.