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And the Next Thing You Know, They Won't Be Satisfied With the Back of the Bus

September 30, 2003 - 10:45 p.m.

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What do you get when you take an asshole with a sub-80 I.Q. whose never done a day's worth of work in his life and put him on television to analyze a subject on which he has no competence?

You get Rush Limbaugh on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown.

A few days ago, Rush claimed on television that Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb is overrated. That by itself wouldn't be an unusual statement. Many sports journalists downplay the abilities of professional athletes to compensate for the journalists' own lack of talent to play professional sports. But Rush believes that McNabb is overrated because a liberal media is pushing a social agenda by giving too much credit to the contributions of Black players.

Set aide the irony that Rush is calling someone else overrated. As a political commentator, his most insightful political analysis is that he finds Chelsea Clinton physically unattractive. (And that carries its own ironies.)

If you don't follow football, Donovan McNabb is one of the best-paid quarterbacks in the league, presumably because he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league. As a Redskins fan, I've had the displeasure of watching McNabb tearing apart the Redskins' defense almost single-handedly about twice a year.

And if you haven't followed football over the past twenty years, the NFL has had a bit of a racism problem when it comes to allowing Black players to play quarterback. You see, playing quarterback effectively requires intelligence, and Blacks of course couldn't be smart enough to handle it.

Even the historically racist NFL is about twenty years ahead of Rush in getting over that racism. After a few coaches gave a chance to Black players like Doug Williams, Warren Moon, and Randal Cunningham, and watched these Black quarterbacks light up opposing defense, the desire to win caused other teams around the NFL to re-think their stereotypes about Black athletes. Consequently, there are a lot more Black quarterbacks in the NFL (though still a lower percentage of Blacks playing quarterback than any other position). I still notice a tendancy for sports announcers to praise Black quarterbacks for being "athletic" and White quarterbacks for being "smart."

But at least the NFL is trying to deal with its racism. Rush can't.

What I would like to see is for Rush to put his money where his mouth is. Of course, Rush is in no shape to take the field. That would require him to get out of his chair, and sitting is the only physical act in which Rush has engaged in his life. That's a shame, because I'd like to see the overrated Black quarterback of his choice violently abuse him. But I'd be just as happy to have Rush take an I.Q. test alongside McNabb and the overrated Black quarterbacks of Rush's choice. In that contest, I'd bet on McNabb by 30 I.Q. points.

Of course, if Rush were taking an I.Q. test with Anna Nicole Smith, I would bet on Anna Nicole even-up.

Sadly, Rush's attempt to set social consciousness back 150 years comes at a time when the NFL is dealing with racism among hiring coaches and other front office staff. The same stereotype, that Blacks aren't intelligent, has kept all but a very few of the brightest NFL minds out of the head coaching jobs.

But putting the dunce cap on Rush would be redundant. The real screw-up comes from ESPN, who put this guy on television to mouth off about- football? Did ESPN expect that it could put the monkey in front of a typewriter and get Shakespeare? Surely someone at ESPN had read Al Franken's painstakingly accurate book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. Of course, EPSN wanted Rush to stir up controversy, and that's exactly what the network got. But if ESPN wanted to stir up controversy, it would have been cheaper and easier to just dress up the show's interns in white hoods and have them march around the set with a cross during the show each week.

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