The standard shtick for quite some time has been that no one will ever be able to stop Rush Limbaugh from being Rush Limbaugh. Every time Keith Olbermann or his compatriots at MSNBC rants about what Rush’s recently dumped onto the airwaves, I imagine that somewhere a very fat man’s laugh is echoing off the dimly lit black velvet paintings in a dungeon-like Florida neuvo-castle surrounded by the ill-gotten gains of illegal, clandestine hunting trips across the globe. The popular myth was that even MSNBC can’t slow Rush’s mouth down. So it is quite surprising that Wednesday one organization that’s not exactly known for its progressive political agenda managed to do so utterly and completely.
Rush got run over by the NFL, Joe-Theismann-snapped-like-a-twig-by-LT style. And in so doing, the rest of us should take away the knowledge that Rush has strayed even farther out onto the fringe that he’d always been teetering on.
Few people recognize just how extensively Rush has been connected with the business of professional sports, and especially the NFL, for years. Rush started his career working a low-level promotions gig for the Kansas City Royals. And I’d bet a full bottle of Oxycontin that I got off a new prescription for my housekeeper that Rush keeps a well-hidden hard-on for the Chiefs on the down low. The most spectacular flame-out in Rush’s NFL flirtation was his failed time as a commentator for Sunday NFL Countdown, where he uttered his famously ignorant Donovan McNabb riff. The fact that he got the chance to hoist himself on that quasi-elite patard to begin with was surprising. But Rush certainly recognized from his earliest days that if you could have a hand in the call of the game, it was the next best thing to owning a part of the action. Bringing Rush’s personality on board was a big risk that the NFL of earlier this decade was willing to take. But ABC then and ESPN now have taken plenty of stupid risks on announcers that have left a collective bad taste in the mouths of most fans. I’m mean c’mon — Dennis Miller AND Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, just to name two of MNF‘s esteemed graduates? ‘Nuff said.
The fact is that Rush wants in, and the NFL just said flatly that, in effect, his kind is not welcome. Rush is no longer a risk the League is willing to take. Roger Goddell is now the sheriff in town and, well, Rush not only would need to leave his gun belt outside of Goddell’s jurisdiction. He would need to give them up altogether to keep the peace. That’s why it was surprising that as late in the pre-negotiations as Wednesday morning, Rush was sticking to those guns by saying that no one was going to force him out of the deal. Until, of course, someone forced him out of the deal.
The NFL is full of clowns in the owners’ suites. Al Davis is assuredly insane and decades past his prime, Jerry Jones did so much cocaine off of nameless, tasteless hookers back in the 90s that he’s a walking vegetable, and (my personal favorite) former Rams owner Georgia Frontiere was a stripper that got the team willed to her for what we all must assume was more than a lap dance. I’m just saying. But they all were Esteemed Past Presidents of the PTA compared to ol’ Rush.
For that reason alone we should all take heed that Rush’s comments in the past have weakened his brand in the present. Once that reality sets in for more people, I predict that he’ll be much more vulnerable. Take away something he wants and you’ve got a way to get at how he thinks.
Now, are you ACTUALLY ready for some football this weekend, America? You bet your ass we are.