WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Can I get an amen for the resignation of Russ Limbaugh from ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown? It was long overdue, and his stay on the show was only a matter of weeks.
My only regret is that ESPN still exists.
What, you may ask, was the outspoken talk-show host doing on a football program anyway?
He was hired by the cable sports network over the summer to be a part of ESPN's two-hour NFL preview show each week. I'm sure some bottom-line bean counters had some reason other than money for the hiring, but what it was escapes me.
This past Sunday, he claimed that Donovan McNabb, who was off to a slow start this season, was quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles because the NFL wanted to showcase a black in the position.
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL," Limbaugh said. "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. 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. The defense carried this team."
If you've ever heard or listened to Limbaugh for any length of time, you could see this coming. Personally, I find his show, his views, his politics, the whole nine yards very distasteful, so much so in fact that I quit watching Countdown, and may never watch it again just because he worked on it.
When I was younger, I played football. I've read a playbook 10 inches thick. I toiled at practice sessions in the sweltering heat for two, three hours at a time. I attended meetings and skull sessions with rooms full of players and coaches. I probably have forgotten more football than Limbaugh knows now or ever knew.
Countdown is not a political show. It is not designed for a staunch conservative to use as a soapbox.
McNabb, who took the high road, told the Philadelphia Daily News: "It's sad that you've got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal."
Well young man, you've just been given a wake-up call. This land we love, the land of the free and the brave, will never be "through with this whole deal."
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, called the talk show host's remarks "outrageous and offensive."
"They have no place in American society and I would hope that he would not hide behind the First Amendment to defend such insensitive comments," Cummings said in a statement. "People like Rush Limbaugh are a constant reminder that we still have a long way to go in dealing with race in America. I call on the executives and leadership of ESPN and its parent company, Disney, to swiftly address this matter."
I agree, but I'm not naïve enough to think that Limbaugh is alone in his thinking. Matter of fact, I didn't even have to listen to sports radio, which I do constantly, to know that people who feel like he does are coming out of the woodwork.
As he does on his talk show very day, Limbaugh says what a lot of people feel but don't say. He's their mouthpiece, their hero, and he's successful because you don't last long in this business if people don't listen long enough to help your sponsor pay the bills.
Among the backups are rookie Byron Leftwich of Jacksonville, who might make his first NFL start on Sunday, Shaun King, and Rodney Peete. (Hope I didn't miss anybody for fear of not knowing what I'm talking about.)
Based on history, that seems like a lot, but it isn't. And that does not say that all these guys are good, which we knowledgeable football fans already know, nor include the "non-African-Americans" who can't play (no name-calling on this occasion; maybe later).
On his radio program Wednesday, he had the gall to say, "All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something. If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sportswriter community."
As usual, he just doesn't get it.
This is not about whether Donovan McNabb can play the position. It's about using the race card unnecessarily, AND when you don't know of what you speak.
And not to ESPN's credit, the network issued a statement that said in part, "We have communicated to Mr. Limbaugh that his comments were insensitive and inappropriate."
That's for sure, but inadequate. At the very least, someone at the company should own up to how bad a decision it was to hire this non-football-knowing loud mouth at all, AND the company should not have waited for him to step down; it should have canned him. But, then again, that would mean having to admit that it made a mistake in the first place, wouldn't it?
Reports are that ratings for "Sunday NFL Countdown" have risen 10 percent from last season, and Sunday's show, Limbaugh's last, was the highest-rated edition in seven years.
Now THAT is sad.
It would have been too much like right for Limbaugh to apologize, but we know better, don't we?