I never really took Rush Limbaugh’s bid to be a part-owner of a National Football League team very seriously.
That’s partly because I wasn’t sure that he was ever serious about it, except as a means of gaining publicity for himself. The conservative radio host is nothing if not a savvy self-promoter. And I was more sure that the NFL, which is nothing if not image-conscious and averse to controversy, would never let him in.
Like his abortive stint as an ESPN pro football commentator back in 2003, Limbaugh’s membership in a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams football team was over just about before it began.
According to news reports, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in addition to at least one team owner, expressed concerns about Limbaugh’s possible involvement and “polarizing” past comments about the league at a special meeting on the topic.
Limbaugh, naturally, made this the lead topic of his show on Thursday morning, blaming the usual suspects — the Obama administration, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and liberal sportswriters (an odd notion to me) — for his flameout as a prospective NFL owner.
According to an Associated Press report, Limbaugh said on his broadcast that he was targeted by the NFL Players Association and its leader DeMaurice Smith (whom he called an “Obama-ite”), in advance of upcoming collective bargaining negotiations.
I have a couple of reactions to all of that, as I’m sure I can anticipate what his outraged defenders are going to say. Of course, Rush Limbaugh has the Constititutional right to say pretty much whatever he wants to say on the radio. He had that right yesterday and will have it tomorrow.
He does not have a Constitutional right to be an owner of an NFL team — never had that and never will. The group of NFL team owners is essentially a private club — one I’ve never really pictured as being populated by flaming liberals. (See this article from Bloomberg News as evidence.) And they can let in or exclude anyone they want, subject to anti-trust laws. That’s a business decision and it’s obvious the club decided that Rush was going to be bad for business.
So if he wants to blame anything for the demise of his NFL dreams, he should blame the free market. And there’s just a little bit of irony in that, isn’t there?