The League

Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon

Washington Post sports reporter and ESPN personality

No Rush to Judgment


The market is telling Rush Limbaugh, rather loudly, it doesn't want what he sells. Undoubtedly there is support for Limbaugh in some quarters; my guess is there are NFL owners who share his brand of conservatism. But so far the voices that count the most, the ones that belong to people in the private club Limbaugh wants into, are shouting him down. Bad enough that players have, eloquently in some cases, said they wouldn't want to play for him. But now there's an owner, the Colts' Jim Irsay, on the record as saying he wouldn't vote to accept an ownership group that includes Limbaugh. And most important, the NFL Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell, is on record as saying that Limbaugh's public utterances as they relate to race, to African Americans specifically, are "divisive" and "polarizing."

When it first became public that Limbaugh was going to be part of Dave Checketts' group that was going to attempt to buy the St. Louis Rams it riled up black folks, specifically, which should come as no surprise. I've met Limbaugh. I've communicated with him on the issue of his being a part-owner of a franchise. One-on-one he comes across as approachable and open for any discussion. But his radio persona is another thing. I can't listen to his show because I'm too often offended by what he says about people of color.

I'm not going to try and give specific examples of things Limbaugh has said over the years because I screwed up already doing that, repeating a quote attributed to Limbaugh (about slavery) which he has told me he simply did not say and does not reflect his feelings. I take him at his word. But I do know I was deeply offended the few times I have listened to him and never understood why somebody this smart with his gift for communication had to be so nasty and, in my opinion, give cover to bigots everywhere under the guise of conservatism.

Continuing reading Mike's column.

By Michael Wilbon  |  October 14, 2009; 1:56 PM ET  | Category:  Race , Roger Goodell , St. Louis Rams Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Rush to Resistance | Next: Should Players Keep Their Mouths Shut?


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Rush Limbaugh is gay. He can't even be honest with himself about that, how could he be honest about being a racist? Ahhh you don't believe me? Google the name "Elliot Sanders".

Posted by: madest | October 14, 2009 2:11 PM

C'mon Michael. He's offended you, but you just can't remember what about? I can tell you how I was offended going back, well, forever. Every time in my life that I was offended I can tell you what someone said to offend me. Every time. Perhaps, there has been so many quotes out there that people have attached to Limbaugh that aren't true that people really don't know Limbaugh. I always here, "Oh, I hate him". Do you listen to him? "I don't have to listen to him. I've heard stuff from him that I don't like". Perhaps like the slavery quote, or the James Earl Ray quote that he's never said. This is beneath you Michael.

Posted by: maxpower99 | October 14, 2009 2:30 PM

what happens if one day soon the market decides it has had enough of the thug players...
will you ask them to resign...
will you...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 14, 2009 2:37 PM

"I ... never understood why somebody {as} smart {as Limbaugh}, with his gift for communication had to be so nasty and, in my opinion, give cover to bigots everywhere under the guise of conservatism."

His broadcasting career began at a local radio station in Sacramento, California; subject: sports. Football. But he failed. He did not draw a significantly large audience. And he drew the appropriate conclusion: to succeed in radio broadcasting, your online persona must go beyond possessing an appealing voice quality. You must also appeal to the largest possible niche audience out there and hold it as closely to you as possible. Which he has done for oh-so-many decades.

If his net-worth is close to one billion dollars now it wouldn't surprise me; all he really cares about.

It also wouldn't surprise me if, on his last day, at the end of his last broadcast ever, he disavows every "conservative" viewpoint he's ever uttered by saying: "I never believed a word of it. My job was to deliver a mass audience to advertisers; precisely what I did over all those years, and now I am done."

Posted by: hogsmile | October 14, 2009 2:49 PM

Michael, you are giving Limbaugh way too much credit here. He's not smart, he's an opportunist who is just crazy like a fox. As someone else above already pointed out, when Limbaugh tried to compete within the boundaries of normal society, he failed. He simply decided to take the crotchety fat guy at the end of the bar schtick, amp it up a couple of levels and put it on the radio. This initially was novel and interesting but these shock jocks have mistaken listeners for a movement and gone too far.

Posted by: wsblount | October 14, 2009 3:04 PM

I don't think Rush really cares about football...he just wants to be able to go into the locker room as a part owner and steal some of the pain-killing drugs available.

Posted by: MarylandModerate | October 14, 2009 3:15 PM

What about the NFL drug policy. Does Rush's use and obvious sale, in possession of 10,000 pills at one time. Violate the substance abuse policy. Or does it just apply to players?

Posted by: minco_007 | October 14, 2009 3:41 PM

Rush is a product of his own success. He has become well known and very wealth by speaking his mind, now some of his words are coming back to hurt him. With freedom (of speech) comes responsibility. This is the consequences of his actions. I wouldn’t be too concern, Rush will find other ways to increase his portfolio – he is after all a very good businessman.

Posted by: NatIII | October 14, 2009 3:57 PM

Is this a joke? This is a sports league that tolerates and accepts players charged with murder (Ray Lewis), assault (see Oakland Raiders coaches), animal cruelty (Vick), weapons (Plaxico), drug use (you name it), and no end of offensive behavior on and off the field, but Rush Limbaugh is sooo bad that he can't be an owner because THIS GUY and AL SHARPTON say so? I'm not even going to mention that FERGIE is a part owner of the Dolphins. (I mean, c'mon - FERGIE??!?!)

Come up with a evidence that Rush is a bigot and racist and maybe someone will listen. Until then, it's all made up BULL and this guy is full of it.

Posted by: TomPaine76 | October 14, 2009 4:06 PM

Rush Limbaugh is the Jerry Springer of talk radio. His only appeal is to low life ultra right wing Republicans. He's one of the best friends the Democrats have, he's killing the Republican party with his rants of Hate.

Posted by: wasaUFO | October 14, 2009 4:14 PM

I got two words for Micheal Wilbon "screw you". You can't site why you were offended after you had to pull the lies you attributed to him? Come on man up and admit you are wrong, instead you double down and say he pedals in bigotry, which by extension you label his over 20 million listeners racists. If you only had the courage of your "convictions" to come out and say "I hate Limbaugh, but I do not know why, instead I will make up reasons and when they are proven lies I will just repeat that I hate him anyway." You make me sick.

Posted by: Votingis4Suckers | October 14, 2009 4:28 PM

The NFL has to sell a "feel good" product -- entertainment without any political or social controversy. They won't get that with Russ Limbaugh as an owner. No way they will or should let him in.

Posted by: Riograd | October 14, 2009 4:34 PM

Apparently the 32 members of the Saint Louis Rams got phone calls from "certain members" of Congress who don't like Rush Limbaugh. I'm sure the White House gave an implicit nod. This is how the big boys play tit-for-tat.

Posted by: penniless_taxpayer | October 14, 2009 4:39 PM

I am surprised to read those who say that because Wilbon won't list Rush' verbal infractions they therefore don't exist. Rush was forced to resign from ESPN for his McNabb comment. Many of his recent comments about the Obama administration have been clearly hateful and devisive.

Posted by: harttenj | October 14, 2009 4:49 PM

Convicted inside trader (fined $2.3million by French Government and confirmed upon appeal)Hedge Fund billionaire George Soros can buy the presidency but Limbaugh cannot buy a partial ownership of a lousy football team?

Posted by: NAuchi | October 14, 2009 4:50 PM

This is not about the players on the field or the owners or the writers. This about someone who's bigotry and meanness is being recognized for what it is-bigotry and meanness. Rush's money can buy a lot but hopefully it will not buy him entree into this club. And hopefully there will be more individuals and groups willing to take a stand against the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: mpeterman42 | October 14, 2009 4:59 PM

ESPN is reporting now that Limbaugh is being dropped from the buying group. Thank God they have come to their sences. Limbaugh and his lemmings can now go jump off a cliff together - the world would be so much better off if they would.

Posted by: truthseeker13 | October 14, 2009 5:01 PM

Seems to me that in the new America conservatives "need not apply here". Liberals who claim to be open minded, accepting and tolerant are always the ones who shut down opposing ideas, thought and viewpoints. Rush is being railroaded because he has a conservative belief system and he isn't shy about it. The new America is the one where if you dare to be non-liberal you should sit at the back of the bus, keep your mouth shut and exist as a non-person. The only person I see being a hater here is the author of this article who slanders a person but doesn't site what actual things are racist. Join the mob Michael. You certainly have proven you aren't a free thinker.

Posted by: endiku | October 14, 2009 5:03 PM

Being a good "Christian," I'm sure Mr. El Rushbo will understand Galatians 6: 7-9

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Or so the "portly" guy can understand, since he has "half his brain tied behind his back," You reap what you sow!

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | October 14, 2009 5:26 PM

ENDIKU wrote:
"Liberals who claim to be open minded, accepting and tolerant are always the ones who shut down opposing ideas, thought and viewpoints."

Hate is not a "liberal" characteristic, ENDIKU. But hate has certainly become a very well documented "conservative" attribute. The first inclination for Rush Limpnuts and his ilk is to bully and ridicule. I totally agree with the person who posted that Limpnuts is merely doing what he does to satisfy advertisers. It is all an act, a put-on by a masterful orator. It's his subject matter, ENDIKU, which gives him the moniker of "hate-monger". He does it knowing full well his audience is the fulminating uneducated white male in his 30's who has never quite been able to fit in. His audience is the 25% who are extreme social troglodytes, and yes, most of the rest of us despise them and their behavior. If you feel you are a part of that crowd, well, it sucks to be you. Life is too short for Limpnuts and his minions.

Posted by: swatkins1 | October 14, 2009 5:27 PM

The Chinese are buying up American companies like mad, the Empire State Bldg. lights were lite in China's colors for the 60th Anniversary of the Communist Takeover of China, Muslims are taking over Western Europe (a Muslim mayor in Amsterdam) and a Muslim is running for mayor of Houston, Tx.........AND A GREAT MANY AMERICANS ARE DISTRESSED BECAUSE LIMBAUGH WANTS TO PURCHASE A PART OF AN NFL FOOTBALL TEAM??? HAS AMERICA GONE NUTS ALTOGETHER???

Posted by: libertymeanslife | October 14, 2009 5:32 PM

So what of Rush's 20 million plus listeners? How many NFL fans among those listeners? I am in each group.

The NFL will do what it wants to do but I see no reason that Rush's political philosophy, which is not racist, should exempt him from owning a team.

Posted by: hz9604 | October 14, 2009 5:43 PM



Posted by: swatkins1 | October 14, 2009 5:54 PM

"I'm not going to try and give specific examples of things Limbaugh has said over the years because I screwed up already doing that, repeating a quote attributed to Limbaugh (about slavery) which he has told me he simply did not say and does not reflect his feelings."
Reminds me of Joe McCarthy's list of Communists in government. All insinuation, innuendo, and character assassination completely lacking in specifics or facts.

Have you no shame, Mr. Wilbon?

Posted by: amazd | October 14, 2009 6:53 PM

Please, Rush is Racist! He can lie and say no, but behavior has shown us all what he truly is a Racist! If any owner votes for him then, the whole NFL should feel it! Players should not play for the owners who voted or for the team he would have co-ownership of!

Posted by: ifordc | October 14, 2009 7:18 PM

you people who cant see what is going on here are stupid and stupider.

political correctness has taken over. a man can not pursue his desire because of his words? ever hear of freedom?

all i can say, is what comes around goes around.

pity the nfl, and all the phonies who make up that league, led by the liberal pittsubrgh steeler owner who loves obama so much he's an ambassador now!

and wilbon, i've heard you say nasty stuff, so you aint now saint buddy.

you can kill dogs, kill people with cars while drunk, use steroids illegally, have 12 kids with 12 different women, but you cant own a team for expressing political thought. pathetic. unamerican. and a glimpse of how far this country has turned from freedom.

the blacks in the nfl are being taken for a ride by the upper crust liberals who own them like slaves. you work for 4 years, on average, and then it's good bye!!! hope your college education works out well for you...oh yeah, you got taken on that too for profit. STUPID

Posted by: jim000122 | October 14, 2009 8:13 PM

Rush's critics are weak liberals that cannot engage in an effective argument to defend their angry Socialist agendas. They are hacks, slanderous smarmy hacks. Rush has been very patient up until now about the fabricated statements he has been tagged with. Rush, with his extensive resources will b itch slap the scum that has tried to damage his reputation. Those that have propagated and promoted the garbage...NBC, ESPN, etc will rue the day they jumped on their own Racist bandwagon.

Posted by: FraudObama | October 14, 2009 8:27 PM

So some of the jock-sniffers think Limbaugh would be "bad" for the NFL? Yah. Well, NO Limbaugh will be WORSE. I don't need to watch the overpaid roid' boys on TV. And I WON'T. Or pay $200 for an endzone seat. laterr.

Posted by: Fiftycaltx1 | October 14, 2009 8:35 PM

Libs have Olbermann and whats her/his name. There they find like minds. Sad really. Meanwhile they make stupid comments about Rush. They have never listened to him and if they have they will get angry because when facts fly in your face and logic unravels your beliefs you feel stupid and begin to lash out. Libs are stupid useful idiots and they do lash out. So, what do they do....make up stuff and use the Race Card. Their old overused worn out ignorant race card. What an embarrassment.

Posted by: FraudObama | October 14, 2009 8:52 PM

Paraphrasing Wilbon - I told a lie about Limbaugh, but I'm still offended by his words although I can't give examples. Gee! That seems to reflect every anti-Limbaugh blogger here. Limbaugh's a racist, but I can't give examples. Limbaugh's preaches hate, but I don't listen to his show and can't give specific examples of his behavior. So, who is the real hate spewer? Look in the mirror.

Posted by: wsbowles | October 14, 2009 9:06 PM

Lets see, if his comments about Michael Vick being an affirmative action quaterback weren't bad enough what about his constant playing of "Barack the Magic Negro" during campaign? Racist? You bet.

Posted by: _Cowabunga_ | October 14, 2009 10:08 PM

Ooops. Meant Donavan McNab of course.

Posted by: _Cowabunga_ | October 14, 2009 10:08 PM

Rush Limbaugh is an ignorant bigot. Dude gets paid enough as it is to talk the fhit that he does already. However, if Daniel Snyder were to sell the redskins to Rush Limbaugh I would be more hopeful than I am now. Rush Limbaugh would be the perfect owner/board member/consultant for the most racist team in America, "The Redskins." Please see the humor in that tools. Bong.

Posted by: BMACattack | October 14, 2009 10:30 PM

"The Ego Has Landed"

Back at you Rush-bo !

I hope it hurts and I hope it stings a l-o-n-g time!

BTW, Who in the world could believe that Limbaugh could ever be a silent partner?

Posted by: Anadromous2 | October 15, 2009 12:06 AM

Goodell, It's a shame he believes the media pimps...not a racist bone in Rush's body. I've listen to him along time. The media can't even source the supposed comment. It's a shame we have a worthless media of propaganda and no news.

Standards? we now have an adult dog killer playing ball.

But the NFL needs Rush more than Rush needs the NFL....

Posted by: ekim53 | October 15, 2009 12:30 AM

Sure are a lot of Rush apologists here who are delusional or in denial. You think he's not a racist? Check out for some of his greatest hits, including calling for a posthumous medal of honor for the man who shot Martin Luther King. Or, which includes video of Rush if you don't trust the printed word.

His comments about Donovan McNabb were both offensive and idiotic. When he made the remarks, it had been about 15 years since 100 million or so Americans saw Doug Williams become Super Bowl MVP. It was no longer remarkable for NFL teams to have black starting quarterbacks -- had Rush never heard of Pro Bowlers Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon or Steve McNair?

The black QB issue had already been resolved resoundingly in favor of the proposition that, yes, Virginia, blacks CAN play QB in the pros after all! So why would the press care about pumping up McNabb's accomplishments more than for any other player?

Perhaps Rush forgot the old adage that QBs get too much of the credit and take too much of the blame. Whatever the case, he couldn't help viewing McNabb through his warped worldview and seeing special treatment (read: affirmative action) at play in whatever credit McNabb was given.

Posted by: bluejersey | October 15, 2009 12:33 AM

It looks as if "I hope he fails" came back to bite him in his big fat butt.

Posted by: billwan | October 15, 2009 12:38 AM

Rush is Great, Beer is Good and Wilbon is Crazy.

Ignorance Rules Today

Posted by: ekim53 | October 15, 2009 2:35 AM

This was a publicity stunt. Incredible how so many took the bait hook, line and sinker. Guess its coming to the point with some political junkies that just as we have seperation of church and state, so we must infuse the notion of seperation of sports and politics. I watch football to watch football; not to be subjected to a Limbaugh talk show or a Jesse Jackson talk show either for that matter. You political junkies are ridiculous.

Posted by: leaningtoleft | October 15, 2009 5:14 AM

For a very, very small samples of Limbaugh's true racist comments, please go to You will find "in context" Rush's own defense against this charge, and then a dozen actual statements recorded from his radio show.

I stopped listening to him about 12 years ago, when I realized that his show is a variation of pornography. I laughed until I realized what I was laughing at, then felt ashamed. I have not listened in 12 years, as I said. I stopped watching Hannity about 3 years ago, and will watch OReilly perhaps a few minutes each week.

Check it out. Judge his comments for yourself.

Posted by: LeftGuy | October 15, 2009 8:40 AM

Doesn't Jay-Z have partial ownership in an NBA team. He is a racist and has racist lyrics as well as anti-law enforcement lyrics (see 99 Problems). I still like his music but where is the media uproar over his involvement as a sports owner?

Posted by: truthseekerva | October 15, 2009 2:25 PM

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