Airwaves: Limbaugh still knows how to stir the pot 

Thank you, Rush Limbaugh, thank you. You gave every football writer, broadcaster, SportsCenter host and the Internet a great amount of subject matter this past week. Now, we all know the self-proclaimed “smartest man on Earth” loves being in the national spotlight. Through his right-wing daily radio show, he has become the richest man in radio and arguably the most powerful.

When word leaked out that he was involved with a group to purchase the lowly St. Louis Rams, a tidal wave of opinions dominated the Internet and all the airwaves.

Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said “polarizing” comments by the radio talk show host would be negative for the NFL. Respected Colts owner Jim Irsay stated he would vote against any ownership group that included Limbaugh. The new NFL Players Association leader, DeMaurice Smith, along with numerous civil rights activists, stated publicly that it would be an outrage.

The complaints obviously had an effect, as Wednesday, Limbaugh was dropped from the group seeking to buy the Rams. The group said Limbaugh’s  participation had complicated the effort and would move forward without him.

In 2003, ESPN added Limbaugh to its “NFL Countdown” show. After making some very questionable and race-based comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, he was pushed out the door and never appeared again. That incident also drew tremendous national interest and helped his show’s ratings go through the roof. In the end, it did not hurt him, because today his show is the nation’s most listened to syndicated radio program.

In the NFL, 24 of the 32 owners must approve any sale of a team. In St. Louis, this was the hottest topic since the Rams went to the Super Bowl a few years back. Another element to this subject is the fact Limbaugh talks for a living. Like him or not, he is a major figure in our country.

This might have been the one time his mouth really worked against him. He has the right to earn a living and, if he has the money, the right to invest it in a team. My question is, does the NFL censor NBC’s Keith Olbermann, who is on an NFL show and with his left-wing views is the polar opposite of Rush?

- The crew who hangs out at Mr. Lucky’s in Walnut Creek would have been delighted if Limbaugh had ownership in the NFL. In fact, Walt, the owner, who is a devout Raiders fan, was tending bar this week in a Rams jersey. Pete, a Broncos-Panthers fan, sported a new Rams hat, while Gary, a 49ers diehard, proudly wore his new St. Louis Rams jacket. Interesting!

 

Calls to fire Florida State's Bowden are a shame

When a person coaches at the same school for 20, 30, 40 years, he or she earns a lot of respect. With that respect comes a right. The right for that person to decide when they step down and when to retire.

What is going on in Tallahassee, Fla., is a disgrace. People are calling for Bobby Bowden to step down from his perch as football coach of the Florida State Seminoles.

Bowden has become legendary in the job he has done at FSU. The fans and the powers that be have become nervous because of the ’Noles’ subpar start this year. The point here is that Bowden, Joe Paterno, etc., have the right to decide when they will step down. Respectively, Paterno is Penn State, Bobby Bowden is Florida State. I guess it is a vivid example of “what have you done for me lately”!

Following up on the Bowden story, I hate this latest trend in college football where schools like FSU have a head coach in waiting. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that makes everyone feel.

- CBS has a great opening to its NFL games and pregame show. Very well done with eye-opening color, cool music and quick highlights shot of the AFC’s best players and teams.

- Every year, I say it, and then write it, but I am amazed at the subculture in America that meets every Sunday at sports bars around the country to watch the NFL. Older men, younger men, women of all ages, quiet people, loud people. They all show up to suck down a few suds while rooting for their favorite team or player. It is amazing to me, especially when some 65-year-old grandfather is wearing a Tom Brady jersey. If anyone ever sees me doing that, please, shoot me, take my money and buy yourself a beer.

- I loved The Presidents Cup last week. Between Tiger, Greg Norman and Michael Jordan, it was great TV. Loved the fact MJ took part in it.

 

On target

Legendary ex-UCLA hoops coach John Wooden turned 99 this past week. He looks remarkably well for a man his age. The stories about him are some of the greatest in all of sports. Today, sports are in a different landscape than when Wooden roamed the sidelines with his program. This shy man had no big birthday celebration plans. He said he will celebrate when he reaches 100 because 99 feels the same as being 98 or 97. Here’s wishing him the best and hoping he gets to that magic number.

 

Who said it

Tony Dungy
“I advised Michael not to go there,” the retired NFL coach said when asked if he suggested to Michael Vick to consider going to the Raiders. Dungy is Vick’s personal advisor in all areas of life. I wonder how coach Dungy’s advice went over in Alameda. Maybe he was concerned Tom Cable would punch Vick.

Dan Dierdorf
“It is very unusual to see an NFL back run 20 yards for a touchdown and not be touched by a defender,” the CBS broadcaster said last week during the Raiders-Giants debacle when Ahmad Bradshaw sprinted uncontested to the end zone. Dierdorf called the game for what it was. It certainly was not a pretty sight.

 

One to watch

The NFL’s surprise team through five games, the Denver Broncos, will put their undefeated record on the line when they head to San Diego to take on the Chargers on “Monday Night Football.” The AFC West rivals always put on a good show, and Monday should be no different. It will be interesting to see if Broncos QB Kyle Orton can stay hot or if gun-slinger Philip Rivers can carry the Chargers to a win. ESPN carries the action at 5:30 p.m.

 

By the numbers

11 million Households that watched the Broncos-Patriots game this past sunday

8.3 million Households that watched the Colts-Titans game this past sunday

1.9 million Households that watched The Presidents Cup this past sunday

Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at agigantino@sfexaminer.com.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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