BOSTON--Commissioner Roger Goodell said here Tuesday that it would be inappropriate for the owner of an NFL franchise to make the sort of controversial statements attributed in the past to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
"I've said many times before we're all held to a high standard here, and I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about," Goodell said at an NFL owners' meeting. "I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL, absolutely not."
Limbaugh has acknowledged being part of a group bidding for the St. Louis Rams.
Goodell and several owners said Tuesday that the Rams' sale process is in its early stages and the league is far from considering a potential bid by Limbaugh and Dave Checketts, the chairman of hockey's St. Louis Blues.
But any proposed franchise sale would have to be approved by three-quarters of the owners, and Goodell's comments signaled that it perhaps would be unlikely that Limbaugh's bid would be ratified by the other teams.
Now, no big deal, right? It's not the first time someone has made a complete ass of themselves and been prevented from joining the cool kids club.
Except...well, Rush is held in (for reasons that remain unclear) some high esteem among the more neanderthalic limbic-systemites of this nation. You know, the more reptilian-brained Americans? They tend to get a little vicious when one of their own is threatened with anything mildly close to a sanction against their behavior or idols.
Take the Tea Baggers. Or the the unimaginative, idiotic, and ultimately ineffectual protest created on the fly against Senator Olympia Snowe, whose vote yesterday in committee to approve the Baucus healthcare plan was the sole Republican one, on a bill that is about as friendly to the insurance industry which is Astroturfing the TeaBaggers as they're going to get in this era of poverty. Or, indeed, the fluffernutter reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize.
It must be frustrating to be a right-winger these days, but I digress...
Look, Rush has said some remarkably ignorant and moronic things, and that alone should not keep him from being an NFL owner. Al Davis has said many moronic and idiotic things, and he's not only kept his franchise but has been allowed to move it up and down the California coast like a Hell's Angel on the PCH.
And Rush is a truly controversial figure and even that should not keep him from owning an NFL team. After all, Jerry Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys just opened a multibillion dollar football stadium in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression that replaces...well, a multibillion dollar stadium that was in perfectly good shape, and no one is taking his franchise away from him.
What SHOULD keep him from being locked out of owning a franchise is the fact that a large enough percentage of the owners simply don't like the thought of being associated with an idiotic, nonsensical, foul-mouthed bigot who will own a team that no one will want to play for. In their opinion, it demeans the game and will weaken the product.
This isn't the public domain of America. There is no First Amendment right in the domain of the private enterprise that is the NFL, and Rush is getting a first-hand lesson in what the average worker has to endure on a day-to-day basis: at-will employment, albeit in Rush's case at the executive level.
And here's where the explosion is happening in the skulls, thick as they are, of the right wing: they're watching a wealthy businessman (there really is no other way to describe someone who exploits everyone around him, including himself, for his own profit) being treated like one of them by a sport they all love deeply.
Who to root for? After all, the NFL provides them with (subjectively speaking) "quality" entertainment to remove them from the mundanities of miserable proletaria for most of the day on Sunday (and Monday night and sometimes Saturday and Thursday), gives them a rooting interest in millionaires. Rush provides them with lightning rods to exhaust their anger and rage at their own miserable mundanity, blaming the liberals or the gays or the women for their own inadequacies.
And now they're being reminded over and over just how miserably mundane their lives are, how pathetic the American male existence is, all that privilege and power having been pooled not amongst the majority of white men, but among an elite, including Rush and the owners of the very club that would not have him as a member.
See, this is why the whole "anti-anti-affirmative action" effort falls apart. Yes, white men in this country generally have it better than minorities, women, and gays. No doubt about it. But here's the thing: the white men we make that argument to are not in much better shape than the minorities and groups that they fear will take even more away from them.
This is the case we need to make to them, that this equal rights initiative is not aimed at them, that the gay marriage movement won't make them gay, but is an attempt, ultimately successful (because it must be) to garner the privilege of the economically more privileged, which is largely older, whiter, and male.
So we see the assault on the average American male: on the one hand, he sees a threat from us on the left, on the other, he sees there are limits to even the avatars he has created to live vicariously thru (you don't think Rush has been married four times because he likes being married? He does it because of the image of power and potency it portrays to his audience. As I said, he exploits even himself.)
And he can't very well reconcile the two groups by painting the NFL owners as liberal stooges! He is experiencing a deep cognitive dissonance, one that will make for interesting observation in the months and years to come.