Example #5 – Rush Limbaugh and Donovan McNabb

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Mitch Albom’s mouth is probably the liberal media’s greatest liability.  He may be a good writer (his stuff is a bit too metrosexual for my tastes), but when it comes right down to it, he is definitely not gifted with an abundance of smarts.

And like most stupid liberals, if you wait long enough, you’ll find that they’ll eventually step in the proverbial “it.”

Albom is what I define as a “stealth liberal.”  He actually attempts to delude others into thinking that he is somehow open- or even-minded, while condemning people like Rush Limbaugh on a fairly regular basis.  And I have to admit, he’s an adept wordsmith.  If you don’t listen closely, you might actually think the guy stands in the middle of the road politically.  He talks rather matter-of-factly, willing to defer or openly question his opinions on the radio, thus sounding receptive to other notions and ideas.  Once in the periphery of the public vision, however, he turns into a something that could best be described as a cross between Alan Alda and Phil Donahue.

But the fact is, he is a whiny little liberal whose intellectual energies could barely power a mini-flashlight.  I figured out his game a long time ago, and stopped listening.  On April 8th, 2009 I happened to have my wife’s car, which is without a CD player (she had an older-model Ford Econoline, which we’re proud to say has nearly 200,000 miles on it).  Normally, I listen to WJR during the day, and when I start out on my drive home, WJR is still playing on the radio.  When I hear Mitch (which isn’t often, because he has a LOT of guest hosts), I’ll click on the CD.  I’d rather listen to the likes of Yes, Iron Maiden, or Pantera than to hear Mitch’s incessant leftist whining,

Not today.

About ten-seconds before I flip station on the radio, I hear Albom going off on women’s sports.  The guy is in a virtual froth over the fact that women’s sports is being promoted by all of these media outlets despite the fact that it has a pathetically small fan-base.  He then starts ranting and raving about the political correct atmosphere in some of these sports media outlets (TV and print media) that promote women’s sports with as much, if not more enthusiasm than they do men’s sports.  All of this, Mitch notes, despite the fact that the viewership and attendance for things like women’s basketball is so dismally low.  Mitch makes the point, and quite factually, that there is an agenda to push women’s sports all because of political correctness, and because of a prevailing sense of guilt.

So now, he’s got my attention.  And I start thinking…thinking back…remembering…

Remember the flap over Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Donovan McNabb? 

For those of you who don’t remember this, Rush Limbaugh made the following comments on ESPN in September, 2003:

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,” Limbaugh said. “There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.

Well, when Mitch Albom heard that, he just about went into a full-on, liberal pantywaist hissy-fit:

That’s Rush: Wrong and wrongheaded

Rush Limbaugh sees the world in black and white. It is the secret of his success. While other radio hosts wince at slicing the world in two — saying one side is always right and the other is always wrong — Limbaugh’s cash register has always rung on the jingle of such stubborn, if incorrect, simplicity.

So it is no surprise that Limbaugh brought his black-and-white outlook to ESPN, which hired him to spice up its NFL show Sunday mornings. The only surprise is that it took this long — a whole month! — to prove his shtick doesn’t work in sports.

Limbaugh, after four Sundays on the air, has resigned from ESPN, due to the flap over comments he made regarding Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb. Now, you should know that McNabb has been, for the most part, an attention-grabber. A three-time Pro Bowler. A big, hulking threat who can run, pass and take a hit. A guy who, on occasion, has almost single-handedly won games.

Nonetheless, after two less-than-stellar McNabb performances this season, Limbaugh opined last Sunday that the Philly quarterback was never that good.

“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL,” Limbaugh said. “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

He was hardly challenged on the program (maybe everyone was too stunned). Later, on his own show, despite a storm of controversy, he refused to apologize, saying, “If I wasn’t right, there wouldn’t be all this cacophony of outrage.”

Well, no, Rush.

Sometimes, outrage comes because you’re wrong.

The incorrect facts
Limbaugh wants to paint himself as the victim here, the target of a witch-hunt from those who insist he be politically correct. He is half right. People insist — and should insist — that he be correct. He’s not on a bar stool. He’s on TV. Broadcasting. And his statements were flat-out wrong. Not morally wrong. Factually wrong.

“The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well”? Excuse me. But football is not an affirmative action application at college. We don’t give extra points. If McNabb throws one touchdown pass, it doesn’t count as two because he’s black.

Sports is one of the world’s great equalizers, the rare place where skin color can truly mean nothing once the game starts. If the media were so desirous to boost black quarterbacks, how come Andre Ware is out of the league, how come Charlie Batch doesn’t have a starting job, how come Kordell Stewart has been bounced around, how come Akili Smith has been put on the shelf?

Conversely, how come the biggest budding NFL superstar is Michael Vick? Or one of the toughest, most gifted quarterbacks in the league is Steve McNair? Is it because the media gave them 20 percent better treatment than white counterparts? Don’t be ridiculous.

Limbaugh, trying to fend off anger, has pulled in his wagons, saying he was criticizing the media. Sure. Attacking the media is a rogue’s safe haven. The media are big. The media are a monster. Who would side against you if you blamed the media?

Unless, of course, you are the media.

Like Rush.

The chase for ratings
When the storm began brewing over Limbaugh’s comments, ESPN asked him to come on and explain his position. He refused. He reportedly told ESPN he doesn’t do interviews. That’s funny, since I interviewed him when his radio show was coming to WJR-AM (760) in Detroit.

But Limbaugh, who told an audience of broadcasters Thursday, “I’ve been dealing with this stuff my entire career,” will not apologize. He doesn’t think he should.

I do. If you suggest black athletes are considered good only because of white reporters’ guilty consciences, you owe the white reporters and the black athletes an apology — or at least something more than “Oh, that silly liberal media. . . .”

Then again, Limbaugh was doing only what he was hired to do. Make noise. A more piercing question might be why was he hired in the first place.

The answer, of course, is ratings. Sunday mornings are crowded in the pre-football competition, and ESPN was looking for an edge.

The ESPN folks got an edge, but it was too sharp, and it cut flesh. Theirs.

I doubt this story will even nick Rush’s career. Blaming is easier than taking responsibility, and he will blame the liberal this and the liberal that, and heads will nod in agreement.

Still, this was a good lesson in how sports is its own universe. It’s not politics. It’s not the movies. Fast is fast. Strong is strong. And a guy who can run through traffic and throw across his chest, like McNabb, will draw praise from coaches and fellow players, regardless of his black skin or the white noise of the ill-informed.

(For the record, the reason why liberal reporters couldn’t put Andre Ware on a pedestal is because he sucked so badly, it would have been like trying to make a birthday cake out of a pile of dog turd.  They, instead, would have to wait for someone to venture into that gray area where mediocrity can be passed off as excellence with the use of the few choice words.  However, I digress…)

Now, the funny thing about all of this is that Rush wasn’t the FIRST guy to say that McNabb was overrated.  He was just the first one to pin the blame on a bunch of liberal journalists whose lives were riddled with the social plague of “white guilt.”  Consider Pete Prisco’s comments on September 18th, 2003 from CBS Sportsline.com:

McNabb was the choice as the most overrated player before his Stink at the Linc on Sunday. McNabb was awful in the Eagles’ 31-10 loss to the Patriots, which dropped the Eagles to a surprising 0-2 heading into their bye week.

McNabb is still a good player, despite his pedestrian numbers from the first two games. He’s just not a great one.

And that’s why he earns the Most Overrated Player Award.

On most player ranking lists heading into the season, McNabb was ranked in the top 15-20 players. One had him as the third-best overall, and he is often considered one of the top three or four quarterbacks.

That’s wrong and wrong.

McNabb has never been an accurate passer, doesn’t seem comfortable in the pocket and has a tendency to make bad decisions. That is not how you earn high grades as a quarterback.

Then there was Don Banks from Sport Illustrated.com who also wrote:

2. What distinction does Donovan McNabb deserve these days?

Answer: Would you believe the league’s most overrated player label? A little harsh for a two-week slump, right? Maybe, but it’s also an indication of how lost the fifth-year Philadelphia quarterback has been this season.

The truth is, there have always been a few Sundays each season when McNabb looked downright ordinary. When his passes didn’t go where he wanted them to go, his ability to work outside the pocket didn’t save the day, and his star power looked a bit overstated. But you could chalk those up to him still being a relatively young quarterback developmentally, not having enough offensive weapons around him, or just his tendency to misplace his A game from time to time.

But McNabb’s troubles this year are a little harder to overlook. Yes, his last three meaningful games were against Tampa Bay (twice) and New England, teams rich in defensive talent. But that doesn’t come close to absolving McNabb, who has been consistently singled out as one of the game’s most complete quarterbacks, with a game that outshone any of his fellow 1999 first-round quarterbacks.

But have you seen McNabb lately? He looks hesitant. He lacks accuracy and confidence. And it appears he’s not seeing the field with any clarity. He’s often dealing with a strong pass rush, but even when he isn’t, he’s not capitalizing on the opportunities that he has. McNabb these days looks almost as stiff as the guy playing Honest Abe next to him in all those Lincoln Financial commercials.

Try these humbling statistics on for size: In his first two games, McNabb is 37 of 82 (45.1 percent), for 334 yards, three interceptions, three fumbles, 10 sacks, zero touchdowns and a 41.4 passer rating. His long gain throwing the ball is 24 yards, and you can’t even find him on the NFL or NFC passer ratings chart, his numbers are so low.

He has gained a team-high 108 yards on 11 rushes, and some believe that he has shied away from that part of his game to his own detriment, in a determined effort to prove he can be a more traditional pocket passer.

Perhaps returning to an outside-the-pocket mentality will jumpstart McNabb’s confidence, and open up more big-play opportunities on the run. Something needs to change. The 0-2 Eagles have scored just one touchdown in two games, and their 10 total points are their second-lowest two-game production to start the season in franchise history — topped, if that’s the right word, only by 1985’s club, which scored six points in starting 0-2.

With a Week 3 bye to get himself in shape, McNabb might still pull things together and return to the play-making form that we’re accustomed to. Though he had a strong showing in his comeback game against Atlanta in the divisional playoffs, we haven’t really seen the real McNabb since before his broken ankle in Week 11 last season.

At this point, the Eagles’ season depends on No. 5 re-finding his game.

Or how about Allen Barra, who had his article reprinted in Slate.com:

Rush Limbaugh Was Right

Donovan McNabb isn’t a great quarterback, and the media do overrate him because he is black.

In his notorious ESPN comments last Sunday night, Rush Limbaugh said he never thought the Philadelphia Eagles’ Donovan McNabb was “that good of a quarterback.”

If Limbaugh were a more astute analyst, he would have been even harsher and said, “Donovan McNabb is barely a mediocre quarterback.” But other than that, Limbaugh pretty much spoke the truth. Limbaugh lost his job for saying in public what many football fans and analysts have been saying privately for the past couple of seasons.

Let’s review: McNabb, he said, is “overrated … what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.”

“There’s a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”

Let’s take the football stuff first. For the past four seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the best defenses in the National Football League and have failed to make it to the Super Bowl primarily because of an ineffective offense—an offense run by Donovan McNabb. McNabb was a great college quarterback, in my estimation one of the best of the ’90s while at Syracuse. (For the record, I helped persuade ESPN Magazine, then called ESPN Total Sports, to put him on the cover of the 1998 college-football preview issue.) He is one of the most talented athletes in the NFL, but that talent has not translated into greatness as a pro quarterback.

McNabb has started for the Eagles since the 2000 season. In that time, the Eagles offense has never ranked higher than 10th in the league in yards gained. In fact, their 10th-place rank in 2002 was easily their best; in their two previous seasons, they were 17th in a 32-team league. They rank 31st so far in 2003.

In contrast, the Eagles defense in those four seasons has never ranked lower than 10th in yards allowed. In 2001, they were seventh; in 2002 they were fourth; this year they’re fifth. It shouldn’t take a football Einstein to see that the Eagles’ strength over the past few seasons has been on defense, and Limbaugh is no football Einstein, which is probably why he spotted it.

The news that the Eagles defense has “carried” them over this period should be neither surprising nor controversial to anyone with access to simple NFL statistics—or for that matter, with access to a television. Yet, McNabb has received an overwhelming share of media attention and thus the credit. Now why is this?

Let’s look at a quarterback with similar numbers who also plays for a team with a great defense. I don’t know anyone who would call Brad Johnson one of the best quarterbacks in pro football—which is how McNabb is often referred to. In fact, I don’t know anyone who would call Brad Johnson, on the evidence of his 10-year NFL career, much more than mediocre. Yet, Johnson’s NFL career passer rating, as of last Sunday, is 7.3 points higher than McNabb’s (84.8 to 77.5), he has completed his passes at a higher rate (61.8 percent to 56.4 percent), and has averaged significantly more yards per pass (6.84 to 5.91). McNabb excels in just one area, running, where he has gained 2,040 yards and scored 14 touchdowns to Johnson’s 467 and seven. But McNabb has also been sacked more frequently than Johnson—more than once, on average, per game, which negates much of the rushing advantage.

In other words, in just about every way, Brad Johnson has been a more effective quarterback than McNabb and over a longer period.

And even if you say the stats don’t matter and that a quarterback’s job is to win games, Johnson comes out ahead. Johnson has something McNabb doesn’t, a Super Bowl ring, which he went on to win after his Bucs trounced McNabb’s Eagles in last year’s NFC championship game by a score of 27-10. The Bucs and Eagles were regarded by everyone as having the two best defenses in the NFL last year. When they played in the championship game, the difference was that the Bucs defense completely bottled up McNabb while the Eagles defense couldn’t stop Johnson.

In terms of performance, many NFL quarterbacks should be ranked ahead of McNabb. But McNabb has represented something special to all of us since he started his first game in the NFL, and we all know what that is.

Limbaugh is being excoriated for making race an issue in the NFL. This is hypocrisy. I don’t know of a football writer who didn’t regard the dearth of black NFL quarterbacks as one of the most important issues in the late ’80s and early ’90s. (The topic really caught fire after 1988, when Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.)

So far, no black quarterback has been able to dominate a league in which the majority of the players are black. To pretend that many of us didn’t want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he’s black is absurd. To say that we shouldn’t root for a quarterback to win because he’s black is every bit as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn’t have rooted for Jackie Robinson to succeed because he was black. (Please, I don’t need to be reminded that McNabb’s situation is not so difficult or important as Robinson’s—I’m talking about a principle.)

Consequently, it is equally absurd to say that the sports media haven’t overrated Donovan McNabb because he’s black. I’m sorry to have to say it; he is the quarterback for a team I root for. Instead of calling him overrated, I wish I could be admiring his Super Bowl rings. But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be.

Rush Limbaugh didn’t say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn’t say anything that he shouldn’t have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself. I mean, if they didn’t hire Rush Limbaugh to say things like this, what did they hire him for? To talk about the prevent defense?

I guess maybe these “facts” escaped the notice of Mitch Albom?

Oh wait: whether a quarterback is overrated or worth the hype is more a matter of opinion, and not fact.  But that little concept didn’t get in the way of Mitch and his crusade (or delusional fantasy) to be the Brutus to Limbaugh’s Caesar.

And now here we have Mitch Albom basically saying the same stuff, and using almost the same exact arguments and justifications that Rush Limbaugh used to describe the leftist liberal sportswriter love affair with Donovan McNabb, except this time it is against women.  Then again, liberals like smacking women around – just take a good look at what they did to Hillary Clinton during the Democrat primary in 2008.

The funny thing is – and I’ve seen the articles – some of the very same people who publicly excoriated Rush Limbaugh for his comments, later went on to rip McNabb a new bung-hole for being a poor quarterback.  And, of course, quite a few of them are liberal pantywaists like Albom.

Don’t get me wrong: I could care less about Donovan McNabb.  I don’t follow sports hardly at all.  I personally wouldn’t know if he is a good quarterback, a mediocre player, or a steaming turd like Andre Ware.  But I do know a crock of liberal crap when I see one.  This one just happens to be labeled “Mitch Albom.”


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