The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

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Like any business, the NFL wants the broadest possible appeal, the reason the causes it endorses are noncontroversial, the latest being breast cancer awareness.

Rush Limbaugh thrives on controversy.

So it's no surprise that commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear this week that he doesn't want Limbaugh to join his club. Neither do some of the members. .

Goodell was asked specifically Tuesday about two inflammatory comments that touched on the NFL.

One was his remark that the media wanted Donovan McNabb to succeed because it wanted more African-American quarterbacks. The other: "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

The commissioner's response: "I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL _ absolutely not."

Limbaugh's chance of getting a piece of the St. Louis Rams would be remote if his political opinions were unknown -- or at least unvoiced. There are a half-dozen groups interested in purchasing the Rams and his group isn't as well financed as several others.

But even if it were?

While NFL owners are innately conservative, the unwritten rule is that politics be quiet _ it surprised many NFL people when Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney, now the ambassador to Ireland, campaigned publicly last year for Barack Obama.

There already is a mini-rebellion against Limbaugh among some African-American players. If there is anything close to a hot-button political issue in the NFL it is race -- about 65 percent of the players are black. For the last 15 years, the NFL has pushed for more black coaches and executives and what was once a fairly obvious internal racial divide (self-segregation in travel and at lunch tables) has closed markedly.

So when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton chimed in, after such thoughtful black players as McNabb, Bart Scott and Matthias Kiwanuka voiced their objections to Limbaugh, the owners undoubtedly envisioned the picketing outside stadiums that might cut even more into the reduced ticket sales brought on by recession. And that's the bottom line for them -- the bottom line, literally.

Beyond that, Goodell knows that there already are probably more than the nine owners necessary to block any sale who have political objections with Limbaugh. One stated them openly.

"I couldn't even consider voting for him," said Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts. "When there are comments that have been made that are inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive... our words do damage, and it's something we don't need."

Ideally, the First Amendment says Limbaugh's political views shouldn't keep him from buying a business.

But Limbaugh has flourished by fostering divisiveness.

In the NFL, the divisiveness comes every Sunday. In a sports arena, not a political one.

By Dave Goldberg  |  October 14, 2009; 7:38 AM ET  | Category:  Roger Goodell , St. Louis Rams Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The First Amendment guarantees Limbaugh's right to speak. It does not protect him against the objections others have to what he says. He has to take the consequences of that just like everybody else.

Posted by: RobertBethune | October 14, 2009 9:23 AM

You bet we won't spend money on something this misanthropic primate owns. He has a right to speak his mind which he abuses daily but beyond that he deserves all of the criticism and derision we can muster. Oh and he is gay, not that theres anything wrong with that, unless of course you are constantly cutting down gay people in public while abusing prescription drugs.

Posted by: bob29 | October 14, 2009 2:30 PM

When I talk about a RUSH in the NFL, I want it to be about the Packers lack of one...and nothing more.

Posted by: CenterLeft | October 14, 2009 3:30 PM

Go ahead and argue whatever you want about SCUM limbaugh but the reality is that the NFL would never allow some THING like SCUM limbaugh into their club because it would bring attention to the National Football League in a way that the League doesn't want.

Bottom line: the National Football League does NOT like ANY attention focused on the National Football League that is NOT on the football field.....AND THERE'S A GOOD REASON FOR THAT.

What DOES the NFL want then? It want's persons to pay attention to the entertainment it sells them: it's called "football".

What does the NFL NOT want? SIMPLE: it does NOT want ANY attention paid to ANYTHING about the National Football League *OUTSIDE OF THE FOOTBALL FIELD*..... PARTICULARLY THE MECHANISMS OF HOW THE NFL PRACTICES BUSINESs.

Why so? SIMPLE: because the way the NFL operates it's business would be declared illegal - *BY ANY AND ALL MEASURES OF FEDERAL LAWS* - because the National Football League operates as an unconditionally restrictive cartel.

Don't understand? Google "cartel" and then google "sherman anti-trust".

Posted by: Archie_Leach | October 14, 2009 7:29 PM

As the assinine vitriol becomes more apparent to be a lost cause for future fortune, Limbaugh and the rest of Murdok's morons are in a mad scramble to find other ways to remain pertinent to sponsors. Palin writes fiction, Limbaugh makes a fool of himself, Hannity attempts to be a relevant fundraiser, and Levin just gets louder. Just listen to Beck for a few minutes to understand just how desperate the "right" has become going to the point of complete insanity in a futile effort for someone to follow then down the yellow brick road of personal gold. American voters, what an incredibly ignorant group of fools!

Posted by: anOPINIONATEDsob | October 17, 2009 11:43 AM

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