The National Football League has a large millionaire population which predictably contributes overwhelmingly to Republicans over Democrats. Yet this week we learned from rightbloggers that the NFL is in fact a wing of the liberal conspiracy.
Early this month Rush Limbaugh and Dave Checketts collaborated on a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise. But after some people in the League — including Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith — raised objections to the controversial radio host’s involvement, and Colts owner Jim Irsay said he’d vote against any bid involving him, Limbaugh found himself off the team.
It was believed that comments Limbaugh had made about black people generally, and black people in the NFL specifically — comparing NFL games to confrontations “between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons,” for example — influenced his critics in the League, leading to his ouster.
Bidding on pro sports franchises is usually subject to league review, which does not always go the bidders’ way, as when Jim Balsillie unsuccessfully tried to take over the NHL Coyotes earlier this year. The fairness of such procedures may be disputed, but it’s rare that anyone tries to make a Constitutional issue of them: sports business, like sports, has rules, and those that don’t like them may go play somewhere else.
But the involvement of Limbaugh — who quickly blamed his defenestration on Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who had opposed the bid — elevated for rightbloggers this bit of inside-football to Code Red status, and the NFL to fellow travelers whom they proposed to punish with their ultimate, if unlikely, weapon: a conservative boycott of pro football.
The American Spectator got in the game early, exposing one putative Limbaugh quote about slavery as bogus. “And make no mistake,” they added, “Rush today, some other conservative tomorrow.” “In their attempt to brand him a racist,” concurred Bluegrass Pundit, “many liberal media sources attributed a quote about slavery to Limbaugh that he clams he never made.”
Other rightbloggers found other unsubstantiated quotes. There are, of course, plenty of unfortunate Limbaugh quotes, like the one mentioned above, that are beyond dispute — though Limbaugh fans pleaded in those cases for context: In the aforementioned case, Workingclass Conservative explained, Limbaugh was merely saying the players were “acting like they’re throwing gang signs on the field,” thus rendering it merely “insensitive” rather than racist; also, a liberal who reproduced the quote “left out the word ‘the’ in the ‘the Bloods and the Crips,'” further proving his fatal bias.
But the presence of some ringers demonstrated to Ace of Spades that “Rush Derangement Syndrome took over the NFL.” “The deeper point is that the truth is under assault,” wrote Commentary, “and that, in the Internet age, anyone can be a target.” “All’s fair in love for Obama,” said neo-neocon, “and war against the Right.”
Some went further, praising Limbaugh as a champion of racial equality. “Limbaugh’s embodiment of MLK’s dream changed my life,” said RedState’s Mike Gamecock DeVine. When he learned that Limbaugh had a black sidekick, ” I realized that what so appealed to me about Rush was that he treated all people the same, no matter the race… Rush was the embodiment of the character content, color-blind dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. that became my dream in my youth.”
Americans for Truth added that Limbaugh allowed black conservatives to guest-host and appear on his show. (Rush’s real enemies, AfT said, were gay people; an “intolerant act of ‘gay’ thuggery” by ACT-UP had “certainly contributed to Rush downplaying the homosexual issue in the years that followed.”) A black minister was found to defend Limbaugh. Hollywood Gumshoe said that Limbaugh had been undone by a “New Klan” in the membership of which he included Janeane Garofalo and Richard Belzer. “The Klansmen mobilized for Limbaugh’s lynching,” he asserted. “… America is witness to a Democrat Party that has transformed itself from the bigoted and segregationist organization it once was into a political party that no longer prohibits house Negroes, tea-baggers and deranged women from joining their Klan.”
From here it was only a quick leap to the conclusion that the NFL was a liberal front group.
Nice Deb claimed that the Democratic Party was behind the drive to keep Limbaugh from buying a football team. “The Democrats are persistent critters,” she wrote. “They know that if they repeat a lie often enough… and just keep hammering away at it, they can create a narrative, and shift public opinion.” This, she said, was “liberal fascism on display once again, for all to see.”
Sarah Palin 2012’s Adrienne also believed that the NFL was taking its orders from the left. “Limbaugh exposed the NFL for what it is,” she wrote, “another haven for the Left in which they’ve completely taken over and use to destroy conservatives — just like academia, the movies, TV and news media.” “It would seem that the NFL has become just another left wing acronym,” said Liberty on Life Support.
The League was castigated for hypocrisy, as it employed dogfighter Michael Vick and other players with criminal records. Doug Powers was incensed that the NFL had approved Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie for NFL ownership, as she had sung sexually explicit lyrics.
RedState’s tsquare found in this a Spartacus moment: “Tonight, Rush is us. And we are him. Tonight Rush became the metaphor for all of us… every man woman and child in this great nation of ours… Tonight the left proved that they will stop at nothing to end our dreams.” He specifically named among those whose dreams the left sought to end “Small business owners,” “Medical Doctors,” and “Oppressed people wanting freedom around the world.”
Obama, naturally, got dragged into it. “Do you think President Obama would say during a nationally televised press conference that the NFL ‘acted stupidly’ in its reaction to false statements attributed to Rush Limbaugh?” asked Gay Patriot. “Of course not. Racial politics is only one-sided these days in Obama’s America.”
Conspiracy theories were floated. American Thinker noticed that Smith of the players’ union had worked for Eric Holder before he became Attorney General (a fact listed in Smith’s official biography), and served on the Obama transition team, which for AT proved that “Obama tentacles seem to penetrate into nearly every corner of the nation.” The Freedom Fighter’s Journal denounced “THE OBAMA DIRECTED PURGE OF RUSH LIMBAUGH FROM THE NFL.” “Make no mistake, this was a political hit,” said LeatherneckM31. “If football is so thoroughly politicized under this gang,” said Instapundit, “why expect that liver transplants will be different?”
Others suggested liberal supervillain George Soros would take Limbaugh’s place in the Checketts consortium — which is disputed, but the need to fact-check is much less urgent when it does not involve quotes by Rush Limbaugh.
Inevitably, a boycott of the treasonous NFL was demanded.
“I will not watch ONE MINUTE of NFL games or coverage this season — including the Super Bowl,” claimed Teflon of MoltenThought. “And I challenge you to join me.” He had a taker in Tracy Walters: “Today is football Sunday. We will be watching old movies or the Game Show Network.” “I have decided to personally boycott football for the rest of the season,” cried Saber Point.
“I’m absolutely sure that conservatives make up the lion share of money that comes to the NFL through television rights, merchandising and attendance,” asserted Macsmind. “…today I walked every bit of NFL gear out to the dumpster and tossed it… I’m calling for conservative bloggers everywhere to follow suit.”
“It’s 10:15 Sunday, and my TV is off the NFL for the first time ever on a Sunday,” said Clark County Politics. “Watching it now is the same thing as watching a play put on by the Klan. It’s as distasteful and angering as watching an American nazi party rally.”
“Next time an NFL game is on TV, take your wife or girlfriend dancing,” inveighed Chicago News Bench, perhaps unfamiliar with the target audience.
Pajamas Media’ Jim Kearney admitted that “giving up the games, even for a week or two, is a considerable sacrifice,” especially if “you just bought a big-screen high-definition TV or satellite package.” Nonetheless he bravely “put my Giants cap up in the garage… until there is some atonement, the NFL, one of the great brands in sports and media, will be tainted in my eyes.”
Others looked for easier ways to feel righteous. Prairie Pundit suggested “the obvious thing to boycott would be the NFL Network which few people can see anyway.” Reliapundit allowed, “WATCH THE GAMES IF YOU MUST, BUT BOYCOTT PRODUCTS ENDORSED BY THE NFL AND THEIR PLAYERS!” (He also told his readers to boycott Avon, as they had announced an endorsement deal with the hated Fergie.) “Don’t spend the huge price tag to go to a game,” said Carl’s Things That I Notice. “Stay home a watch it at home.” That’s hitting them where they live.
“Perhaps a boycott is in order of all of those folks who sponsor the NFL,” said Voice of Reason. Considering those sponsors include Burger King, Snickers, Frito-Lay, Doritos, and Gatorade, we don’t see this going very far with rightbloggers.
“I don’t think a successful boycott is likely,” admitted Wigderson Library and Pub, “but someday the NFL may wonder when it started to lose a significant portion of its fan base,” somehow.
Still, many were confident of victory. “The sleeping giant has awakened,” claimed Say Anything. “Countless men addicted to the NFL are walking away from pro football this week,” said Neil Braithwaite. “Countless” may be just the word, for in days to come we may expect rightbloggers, with their customary, counter-intuitive metrics, to call their boycott a great success no matter what the numbers are. Any NFL team’s weak attendance numbers can certainly be repurposed to show that fans are staying home in defense of Rush Limbaugh; it won’t have to convince anyone except the faithful, and they are eager to be convinced.
Liberals for their part may wonder why, if they are now running the National Football League, it still has a team called the Redskins.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 19, 2009