Limbaugh can't limbo controversy

By Doug Gorman

I'm a talk show junkie. Sports talk, political commentary, I dig it all.

I don't however, get this country's fascination with conservative talk-show guru Rush Limbaugh. And no, I don't consider myself to be a bleeding-heart liberal.

I was certainly puzzled by ESPN's decision to hire Limbaugh as one its NFL studio analyst.

I didn't question whether he is qualified to discuss football, I know he is a passionate sports fan. I just wondered how long it would be before some of his political leanings got him in trouble on his football show.

It took all of about four weeks.

During his ESPN show on Sunday, Limbaugh made references to Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, which can be interpreted at the very least as being politically incorrect and maybe even racist.

"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," he said. "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."

Limbaugh claims that his comments weren't racially motivated, and maybe we should take him at his word, but the firestorm has forced his resignation.

That's the right decision as far as I'm concerned.

There is no place in sports for racially-charged banter.

We all remember Jimmy the Greek Snyder losing his job at CBS for disparaging remarks toward African Americans.

I was just as appalled when Isaiah Thomas made comments years ago stating that if Larry Bird weren't white he would be considered just an average basketball player.

A quarterback's skin color should never be an issue, but for some strange there is a underlying belief that only white people can play quarterback.

I for one never understood the argument to begin with. You put the best qualified person under center.

I was grateful when Shawn Jones came to quarterback Tech in the early 1990s and Joe Hamilton came aboard in the later part of the decade.

Jones led the Yellow Jackets to a share of the national title and Hamilton was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy his senior year. Both by the way were African American men, and the whole time they were at Tech that was never an issue with me. I was just glad they could play football.

Questioning McNabb's ability to play quarterback doesn't make a whole lot of sense. He's had his struggles and endured the wrath of Philadelphia's unforgiving fans and media.

But he's also been to the Pro Bowl and led his team to the NFC title game, and nearly been the league MVP.

Perhaps Sports Illustrated's Roy S. Johnson, who appeared on CNN Thursday morning, said it best, when he remarked that sports should transcend race.

He's right. Athletics is one area were people form all walks of life and social economic backgrounds can get together in a form of fellowship and be on the same page.

I'm glad Rush's career as a sports commentary was brief. He should stick with trying to rid the world of liberals and let real sports commentators handle what happens on the football field on Sunday's.

Then at least we will know we are going to get comments based on the game itself.

After all, football and politics just don't mix.

Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. He can be e-mailed to dgorman@news-daily.com.