Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was dropped from a group bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the story on Wednesday.
Limbaugh was to be a limited partner in a group headed by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts. Checketts said in a statement Wednesday that Limbaugh’s participation had become a complication in the group’s efforts and the bid will move forward without him.
Checketts told the Associated Press he will have no further comment on the bid process.
Three-quarters of the league’s 32 owners would have had to approve any sale to Limbaugh and his group. Earlier this week, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay predicted that Limbaugh’s potential bid would be met by significant opposition. Several players have also voiced their displeasure with Limbaugh’s potential ownership position, and NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith, who is black, urged players to speak out against Limbaugh’s bid.
A Limbaugh spokesman told ESPN that Limbaugh would have no comment on Wednesday. Earlier, on his syndicated radio show, Limbaugh was defiant, holding on to hope that he still could be part of the ownership group that buys the Rams.
“This is not about the NFL, it’s not about the St. Louis Rams, it’s not about me,” Limbaugh said. “This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.
“Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we’re going to have.”
Without Limbaugh, Checketts and his group will have to find another partner. At the NFL owners meetings this week in Boston, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed Limbaugh’s potential involvement in the league and said “divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about.”
Goodell added: “I’ve said many times before, we’re all held to a high standard here. I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL — absolutely not.”
In 2003, Limbaugh was forced to resign from ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown after saying of Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb: “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.”
The Rams had no comment, reissuing a statement from Oct. 5 in which owner Chip Rosenbloom said a review of the team’s ownership was under way and the club will make an announcement when it’s over.
Checketts, the chairman of SCP Worldwide, announced that Limbaugh had been dumped toward the end of a news release.
“It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions; endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis,” Checketts said. “As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion.”
The move was hailed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the most vocal critics of Limbaugh’s bid.
“It is a moral victory for all Americans — especially the players that have been unfairly castigated by Rush Limbaugh,” Sharpton said in a statement. “This decision will also uphold the unifying standards of major sports.”
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“CNN and MSNBC were given ample opportunity to come clean, but both are continuing to masquerade malicious lies [against Rush Limbaugh] as credible,” Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell said in a statement today.
Yesterday, Bozell promised to report back publicly with how CNN and MSNBC responded to his challenge to put up – or shut up – proof that Rush Limbaugh actually stated the racist quote that both cable networks attributed to him as fact, or to immediately retract and apologize for their participation in spreading an outlandish lie.
Talk show giant Limbaugh denied having ever stated, “Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back. I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.” Further, it has been established that this was a fabrication pushed through the Internet, intentionally designed to destroy Mr. Limbaugh’s reputation at a time he is attempting to purchase a professional football team.
In addition to this public call to action, Mr. Bozell overnighted letters to CNN President Jonathan Klein and MSNBC President Phil Griffin to ensure both took the matter seriously. Both CNN and MSNBC failed to respond appropriately.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez, who was responsible for pushing this lie initially, had the gall to repeat the lie but this time also attaching Mr. Limbaugh’s denial, suggesting the truth was unclear when the truth is absolutely crystal clear. CNN neither apologized nor retracted.
MSNBC was even worse. This disgraceful network continued to repeat this smear on MSNBC Live.
Neither showed any initiative to source the fabricated quote, nor did either network retract or apologize for spreading the false propaganda on their broadcast airwaves. Instead, both CNN and MSNBC repeated the fictitious statement that was created to smear Rush Limbaugh and his character.
MRC President Brent Bozell issued the following statement: at Newbusters.com
ST. LOUIS — The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attacked the bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams on Monday, saying the conservative radio host’s track record on race should exclude him from owning an NFL team.
Sharpton sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, arguing that Limbaugh has been divisive and “anti-NFL” in some of his comments.
Jackson said in a telephone interview that Limbaugh had made his wealth “appealing to the fears of whites” with an unending line of insults against blacks and other minorities.
“The National Football League has set high standards for racial justice and inclusion,” Jackson said. “He should not have the privilege of owning an NFL franchise — and it is a privilege.” The civil rights leader said he’s had contact with numerous players and ex-players concerned about the bid.
Limbaugh shot back at Sharpton on his radio show.
“Now, this saddens me as well this disappoints me,” he said. “I know Rev. Sharpton. Sharpton is better than this. He knows better than this. You know, I didn’t judge Al Sharpton’s fitness to be in radio when he wanted to earn an honest living for once, given his well-documented past as the author of the Tawana Brawley hoax. I believe in freedom and I also don’t discriminate.”
Limbaugh said last week that he is teaming up with St. Louis Blues hockey team owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the Rams. He has declined to discuss details of the offer, citing a confidentiality agreement.
In 2003, Limbaugh worked briefly on ESPN’s NFL pregame show. He resigned after saying Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.
Transcripts posted on the radio host’s Web site also say that on a January 2007 show, Limbaugh commented: “The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”
Asked about Limbaugh’s bid to purchase the winless Rams, McNabb said: “If he’s rewarded to buy them, congratulations to him. But I won’t be in St. Louis any time soon.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is aware of the concerns voiced by Sharpton and Jackson.
“It is very early in the process and no transfer of ownership of the Rams has been presented to the league for review,” Aiello said.
The latest complaints came a day after executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, urged players to speak out against Limbaugh’s bid.
“I have asked our players to embrace their roles not only in the game of football but also as players and partners in the business of the NFL,” Smith said in a statement Sunday. “They risk everything to play this game, they understand that risk and they live with that risk and its consequences for the rest of their life.
“We also know that there is an ugly part of history and we will not risk going backwards, giving up giving in or lying down to it.”
Players on the 0-5 Rams, who were routed by the Minnesota Vikings 38-10 on Sunday, tried to distance themselves from the controversy.
“I’m paying attention, but I’m not even touching that one,” running back Steven Jackson said. “Because if I start touching it I might go somewhere I don’t want to go.”
Defensive end Chris Long said he just heard Monday that Limbaugh was part of a group seeking to purchase the team. His reaction: “Oh, is that the guy on the radio?”
Reminded of Limbaugh’s statements about McNabb, Long seemed to disapprove while adding he didn’t care who owned the team.
“I mean, those weren’t great comments at all,” Long said. “But it’s not my job to really comment on that.”
Defensive end Leonard Little, the last remaining player from the Rams’ Super Bowl championship after the 1999 season, didn’t want to talk about it.
“We’ve got a lot more things to worry about than who’s going to be our owner,” he said.
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