Democratic Underground  
Stopping the Rush
October 3, 2003
By Mike McArdle

Donovan McNabb, a star athlete from the time he was in middle school, had probably long looked forward to the day when he would enter the NFL. But when it happened and the Philadelphia Eagles selected him with the second overall pick in the draft, the choice was greeted with a sound very familiar to Philadelphia pro athletes:


A group of Philly sports fans, encouraged and accompanied by a sports talk show host, had wanted the team to select Texas running back Ricky Williams and had traveled to New York, power-guzzling their favorite adult beverages along the way, to encourage the team to take Williams. The fans who once pelted Santa Claus with snowballs and raucously cheered a career-ending injury to Dallas' Michael Irvin had done it again. The incident made the news shows that evening and was a topic of discussion for years whenever McNabb's tenure as Philadelphia quarterback came up.

An athlete being verbally mugged by Philly fans is nothing new. But this week McNabb was blindsided by something more insidious than plastered fans or charging linebackers - a moonlighting talk show host.

Rush Limbaugh, hero to all disgruntled white guys who think the world would be a much better place if the fifties just came back, told the sports world that McNabb isn't really a good quarterback - fans and the sports press just say he's a good quarterback because he's black.

"I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL," the radio blowhard said. "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well; I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team, that he really didn't deserve."

Limbaugh has made a phenomenal living preaching to a choir of people who see a black bank manager or a black company vice president and assume immediately that that person has been promoted ahead of a more qualified white person because the company is afraid they will have Jesse Jackson on their doorstep if they don't do so. They are convinced that a great meritocracy once existed in America and people got ahead on talent and hard work alone (or at least they had to wait around to inherit their wealth - some for quite a few years) but that liberals and blacks and civil rights activists trashed this wonderful world and substituted a world in which all that is needed for success is black skin, a Spanish surname or the absence of a male appendage.

They like to view whites, and especially white males, and even more especially white males who go to church, as members of a persecuted minority. They long to return to return to the age of "rugged individualism" as their man Rush likes to put it.

And there are a lot of them out there apparently. Enough to make Limbaugh quite rich and to keep his phone lines hopping with the angry voices of "dittoheads" who seem to feel that he's the first one to say the things they've wanted to hear since they flunked out of school in the sixth grade.

Donovan McNabb long ago made peace with the people who booed him on draft day. The dreadful team that he joined that day has gone to two consecutive NFC championship games and McNabb has played in the Pro Bowl. Last year he played one of his greatest games hobbling around on what turned out to be a broken fibula. But the injury caused him to miss the final six weeks of the season and some feel he has not fully come back from it. During the third quarter of a game earlier this year some fans began booing (hey, these are still Philly fans) and demanding that local folk hero, A.J. Feely, who guided the team in McNabb's absence last year be sent into the game. (The young, handsome Feely is almost as popular as McNabb in the city. He is surely the only third string quarterback in the NFL who has his own radio show).

But there was a concern because there had been a noticeable drop-off in McNabb's performance both at the end of last year and the beginning of the current season. Limbaugh took advantage of McNabb's slump to brand his entire career a mirage caused by the press and the league's desire to elevate the performance of a black quarterback above what it really was.

McNabb should not make peace with Rush Limbaugh. Rush is mired in a world where McNabb would have been made a defensive back or running back in his college career because blacks were not regarded as capable of leading an offense.

The player who was selected immediately after McNabb on that draft day in 1999 was a black quarterback named Akili Smith from the University of Oregon. After a few dismal years with the woeful Bengals, Smith was cut by the Packers in training camp this year. Poor guy. I guess Limbaugh never told him about the media's affirmative action program for black quarterbacks.

Editor's note: Rush Limbaugh has since resigned from ESPN, and is also allegedly a drug addict.

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