Monday, October 26, 2009

Limbaugh And The NFL, Again

Rush Limbaugh, meet the concept of plausible deniability.

You would think a guy who has been involved awhile in political issues would understand the concept of plausible deniability. And as with so many things, one is left wondering: is Limbaugh ignorant or just playing the role?

On October 23 Limbaugh, unable as I am to let die his rejection as part of an ownership group interested in buying the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, said

Now to Michael Smerconish. Smerconish, it's relevant that he endorsed Obama for president. He positions himself as a moderate. Maybe he is. But he has a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer about this and says that it was strictly business, why I was dropped, it wasn't politics. He said the owners' objection to Limbaugh wasn't based on his politics, they overwhelmingly share his views. "Instead, the owners determined that it was just bad business to add to their ranks someone who would have kept them in headlines going forward while most choose to fly beneath the radar." This is the key thing. What happened here was the owners never got a chance to vote....

Now, the way it works is, you first have to be the winning bid, the Rosenblooms then have to want to sell the team after they hear the price, then after the team is sold, then you go and the NFL starts its vet process....

So Smerconish, I know he's trying to get this right but the owners did not reject this. Roger Goodell did.

Rush, please understand: Roger Goodell works for the owners. The owners hired him. The owners could fire him.

In his column, Smerconish primarily a syndicated talk-show host based in Philadelphia) wrote

Only one owner was prepared to say he would not support the inclusion of Limbaugh. But given that Goodell is their hire, common sense dictates he would not have voiced negativity unless more than one held that view. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he wouldn’t vote for Limbaugh because of the host’s “inappropriate, incendiary, and insensitive” commentary.

But it was the owner of a basketball franchise who came closest to explaining why the Limbaugh role failed. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whom the NBA has fined almost $2 million for his own verbal and behavioral incidents, blogged that the NFL should be “terrified” not of things Limbaugh has already said, but of “what he might say AFTER he was an approved investor in the St. Louis Rams.”

“Given that we will never know what the ’next big issue’ in this world that Rush will be discussing on his show is, it’s impossible for the NFL to even try to predict or gauge the impact on the NFL’s business if something controversial, or even worse yet, something nationally polarizing happens. There is an unquantifiable risk that comes with the size of Rush’s audience,” Cuban wrote on his blog.

The National Football League is risk-averse with owners largely unconcerned with the political, or even racial, views of their owners. They are concerned with possible controversy (or governmental regulation) intruding into their inalienable right (as Rush consistently sees it) to make money and as much as possible.

Roger Goodell understands this and attacked to spare his clients/employers the discomfort of a vote in which they could approve the bid and invite controversy or reject the bid and face the wrath of Limbaugh and others in right-wing talk radio, as well as their listeners. Either way, financial health would be jeopardized, and principle would give way to the business imperative. Goodell enabled the owners to retain plausible deniability, the latter able if necessary to assure those in the rarefied circles in which they travel that they really took no action against their fellow arch-capitalist.

Ironically, Rush, negating his entire argument, would get it right in a single nine-word statement at the conclusion of his segment: "The color of the National Football League," he noted, "is green."

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