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article imagePlayer's union head, and others, against Limbaugh bid for Rams

By Kay Mathews     Oct 13, 2009 in Sports
Controversy erupts over Rush Limbaugh's prospective purchase of the St. Louis Rams. Some players stated they will not play for him, and the head of the NFL union spoke against Limbaugh's bid for the team. Limbaugh's record on race called into question.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of NFL Players, called upon fellow union members to "speak out against talk radio giant" Rush Limbaugh, reports NBC Washington.
Referring to an e-mail that ESPN reported on its website, NBC Washington quotes Smith as writing:
I've spoken to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages. But 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.
FOX Charlotte cites a Forbes Magazine estimate of the value of the St. Louis Rams at $929 million, and notes that Limbaugh has just "signed a new contract with Clear Channel for some 400 million dollars." Limbaugh has, however partnered with Dave Checketts, owner of the St. Louis Blues hockey team, in the bid to purchase the Rams.
Smith's objections to Limbaugh's ownership of a NFL team are not in isolation. According to FOX Charolotte, "Some NFL players have publicly stated they wouldn't play for him."
Two players, New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott, were quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying they "would never play for the Rams if Limbaugh owned the team."
Citing a New York Daily News interview, the LA Times quotes Kiwanuka as saying:
I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. 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. He could offer me whatever he wanted, I wouldn't play for him. . . . I wouldn't play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can't be bought.
Others, such as the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have spoken out against Limbaugh's potential ownership of a football team.
The Associated Press reports that Jackson and Sharpton said, "the conservative radio host's track record on race should exclude him from owning an NFL team." Moreover, Sharpton sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "arguing that Limbaugh has been divisive and 'anti-NFL' in some of his comments."
Limbaugh responded on his radio show, according to the AP, by saying:
Now, this saddens me as well this disappoints me. I know Rev. Sharpton. Sharpton is better than this. He knows better than this. You know, I didn't judge Al Sharpton's fitness to be in radio when he wanted to earn an honest living for once, given his well-documented past as the author of the Tawana Brawley hoax. I believe in freedom and I also don't discriminate.
In 2003 Limbaugh did, however, resign from duties on ESPN's NFL pregame show after saying "Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed," reports the AP. In addition, in 2007, the AP refers to a transcript of a radio show in which Limbaugh said, "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."
The 0-5 St. Louis Rams tried to distance themselves from the controversy, but at the end of the day the LA Times put it succinctly when discussing African American players not wanting to play for Limbaugh: Just what the hapless Rams need: Quality players who refuse to play for them.
The deal, however, is in the very early stages and far from being closed. In the meantime, the controversy over Limbaugh's prospective purchase of the Rams is likely to heighten.
Still, one thing is for certain: Donovan McNabb has said to the AP he "won't be in St. Louis any time soon."
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