If You Want to be a Sports Owner, Try Not to be in a Rush to Judge

Michael IelpiCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2009

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 10:  Rush Limbaugh during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California on February 10, 2006.  (Photo by Marc Feldman/Getty Images)

I will start by saying this, unlike many of the columns you have read online, I actually listen to the Rush Limbaugh show. Am I a fan of everything says? No, and I do not really like it when he brings up race. Do I agree with some of the things he says? Yes, and I would wager that some of you who do not like him would agree to some of his comments if it came from someone not named Rush.

The group that was led by Dave Checketts, whom by the way is the one of the people who started the downfall of the events that have taken place at Madison Square Garden over the last decade, made two mistakes. The first mistake was making it public that Rush Limbaugh was one of the investors interested in buying the Rams. Checketts should have insisted that Limbaugh and everyone stay quiet. The second mistake was not letting this play out to conclusion.

My disappointment is that Rush did not even get a chance to get voted down by the NFL owners.

Limbaugh was not going to be the majority owner of the St. Louis Rams. He was never going to have ultimate control over the team and its decisions. I also doubt that the Rams would have a tough time attracting the best talent in the NFL to play for the team. By the looks of the Rams in their present state they are having enough trouble in that area.

Has Limbaugh ever said that he hates a certain race? Do you think if Rush had complete control of the Rams’ personnel that he would want his team to look like Nazi Germany instead of the best available talent that you could find regardless of race?

I would think Rush would want to be part of the Rams because he would want a team that would be a winner financially and on the playing field. If Limbaugh played fantasy football do you think his starting running backs would be Heath Evans and Brian Leonard?

The beauty of sports is that you cheer for a color, not black or white, but what color your team is wearing. When your team wins you high-five everybody, and when you lose, you console each other.

It does not matter who produced you, it matters what you produce.

People like Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson were accepted in American society before even the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964.

When someone is about to hand you a check that can change your entire family’s life for the better, it is tough to say no thank you. Limbaugh would not even be signing those checks.

Meanwhile, you have many owners in the NFL who run their teams cheaply and use the excuse, "well the city did not want to fork over the money so either I am going to move my team or you are going to have raise every citizen’s taxes to get me a new stadium."

Classic examples of owner frugality are the Irsays, the Modells, the Bidwills, the Brown family, etc.

In the NBA, my home state team, the New Jersey Nets are co-owned by rap artist Jay-Z. There is no way I could ever get an article published if I wrote some of Jay-Z’s lyrics .

I like some of Jay-Z’s music and I am totally content with him living out one of his dreams and being a partial owner of the Nets. My question is what if Jay-Z’s real name was not Shawn Carter, but Rush Limbaugh? Would he have any chance at all?

In baseball, you had Marge Schott using about every racial epithet in the book. She would use some of those terms on her own players. Yet, she was able to keep her team and was only suspended years later for her words. 

Look at the NHL, with the case of Jim Balsillie wanting to completely overpay for the Phoenix Coyotes. Balsillie lost in court and lost to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman whose destiny to keep Balsillie from moving a floundering team to a more prosperous area will never happen under his watch. 

The NFL and all other major sports want owners who will not be a public spectacle. Why do you think baseball rejected Mark Cuban’s bid for the Cubs? The problem is in the publicity. The professional sports leagues do not want people like Al Czervik in their club. They fear people like that will expose the league for some its hypocrisies. In the NBA, I am sure if David Stern had it to do over again he would have tried to stop Cuban from buying the Mavericks. 

These leagues want their owners to trust them implicitly in the same way some brokers told investors to hold on their shares of Lehman Brothers or Washington Mutual. The code is keep your mouth shut as long as the checks are still clearing.

NBC Sports hires someone to do their NFL television program that has called the president a fascist, and accused him of war crimes. His name is Keith Theodore Olbermann. Should Olbermann not be allowed to broadcast highlights of the NFL because of what he has said on his other television show? 

I tend to think Limbaugh would have passed a background check. I also tend to think that some of the owners in sports belong to country clubs where minorities are not allowed.

The NFL can use that same privilege. The league has that luxury of excluding anyone the other owners deem inappropriate. The NFL was fortunate that this time they could use some of Rush’s comments against him and come up with a decision as to why his group should be denied a chance at ownership of the Rams.

If you purchase shares of stock in a company, does that company care about what you say on the radio?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also made a mistake. 

“We’re all held to a high standard here and divisive comments are not what the NFL’s all about. I would not want to see those kind of comments from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL, no. Absolutely not.”

Why say anything at all? It is not him who gets to vote on this. Goodell is an awful public speaker. He never seems sure of what he is saying. He should really attend a Toastmasters' meeting. Goodell could have easily passed the buck and said, well when their bid comes up to vote, the owners will take an honest look at the bid and the people involved and make their decision accordingly. 

Another person who should know better than to say anything is Colts owner Jim Irsay. Irsay said, “I can’t vote for that, [His] comments are insensitive and inappropriate. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in voting for him.”

This coming from a man whose father once made a complete drunken fool of himself on television using foul language and lying to the people of Baltimore about the Colts staying in the city. I know it has been 25 years, and people in Baltimore like the Ravens, but they loved their Colts. 

Limbaugh already paid the price for making an obtuse comment about Donovan McNabb when he worked as a commentator for ESPN. He should know that as an NFL owner, he would be held to an even higher standard than he was as a commentator.

My only question is this, if the NFL is going to hold every single man or woman who would like to be a partial or full owner of a franchise to the same high moral standards?

Everyone else should be as well, and I highly doubt that will be the case.

Personally, I just do not think Limbaugh is that much different than everyone else when it comes down to being qualified to be an NFL owner. He has the money, but Judge Smails and the rest of Bushwood do not want his kind at Bushwood or Park Avenue in New York City.

The real reason that the Checketts group backed down was due to pressure from the league not wanting to have a blowhard like Limbaugh represent their image on a day-to-day basis. 

The lead financier in the Checketts group is allegedly George Soros. Mr. Soros is one of the richest people in the world, but he may be best known for once comparing the Bush Administration to the Nazis. He did later retract his comment, but is it any different than what Limbaugh has said in the past?