Since this is an NFL Sunday, perhaps a few last thoughts about Rush’s comments regarding Donovan McNabb are appropriate. On Friday, sportswriter Allen Barra, writing for Slate, argued that Rush was entirely right — McNabb is overrated because of his race. I remain unconvinced. Even if McNabb is overrated, I don’t see race as the reason. The black quarterback of the Tennessee Titans, Steve “Air” McNair, is quite underrated in my view. If McNabb is overrated the most likely explanations are that he is an exciting and athletic quarterback and plays on the east coast for a successful team. Nontheless, Barra makes a decent case for his point of view. Thus, we can now say that Limbaugh’s contention was not just non-racist, it was defensible on the merits.
Rush’s comment, however, did insult a discrete and insular group — sportswriters. I have commented before on the hack liberalism and political correctness of this group. In fact, the problem, perhaps, is that sportswriters are no longer insular enough. Instead of hanging out together in bars and swapping sports stories, as in olden times, the modern breed fancies itself respectable journalists and thus imbides the politics of those higher up the journalistic food chain. Thus, they exhibit a kind of trickle down liberalism.
Consider, for example, this column by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. With characteristic smugness, Boswell writes, “Rush brought his right-wing sledgehammer to a game where merit and facts, not political spinning, carry the day. . . .Despite its violence, the NFL does possess purity. Merit is honored. Race, religion and origin are, largely, ignored.” We have noted that Rush’s critics failed to distinguish between an attack on sportswriters and an attack on African-Africans. Boswell adds to the confusion by failing to distinguish between the purity (relatively speaking) of football and that of sportswriters. That merit is honored in football does not mean it is honored, or discerned, by those who cover the sport. To say that football teams don’t have a political agenda is not to say that sportswriters and league officials are similarly apolitical.
Or that owners are. According to this Washington Post story, Jeff Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia, has accused ESPN of “institutional racism.” Not only did the network have the audacity to hire Limbaugh, but it airs a mini-series called “Playmakers” in which one black athlete abuses drugs and another injured his wife during a brief scuffle. Apparently Lurie would like ESPN to be more like NBC. In the New York city depicted by its longstanding hit show “Law and Order,” blacks never commit unjustified homicide. And, although a Hispanic once did, the network promptly apologized for that episode.
The apolitical purity of the NFL does not extend to the owner’s suite, much less the press box.
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