On Sunday, Sept. 28, Rush Limbaugh volunteered on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" that Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb was "overrated" and that sports writers cut him slack because he is black.
Three days later, Rush resigned as an ESPN commentator.
The size of the posse that pursued him and of the mob that lynched him reveals less about Rush's views on issues of race than it does about the malice of our media elite. Let's review Rush's offending words in their entirety. After saying McNabb was overrated, Rush gave the following as the reason why sportswriters consistently praise McNabb beyond his desserts:
"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. ... 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."
Has McNabb been given excessive credit for the Eagles' success? Has the defense "carried the team"? Let's look at the record.
Before 2003, McNabb had been starting quarterback for three seasons. According to sports author Alan Barra, writing for Slate, not once in those years was the Eagle offense rated any higher than 10th in the NFL. The Eagle offense's "10th place rank in 2002 was easily their best," writes Barra "In their two previous seasons, they were 17th in a 32-team league. They rank 31st so far this year."
Adds Barra: "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 ..."
Rush's comments, both about the Eagle defense carrying the team and McNabb being overrated, appear, from the stats, to be dead on. His opinion was rooted in fact.
Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Rush was not purged for saying McNabb is overrated, but for saying that sportswriters cut him slack because they have an emotional investment in the success of a black quarterback. Rush was saying, in effect, that these sportswriters are guilt-ridden scribblers who can't call it straight when it comes to black coaches and black quarterbacks.
Which is why the writers howled louder than McNabb. For Rush had told the truth not just about McNabb, but about them -- and they can't handle the truth. "Rush Limbaugh is right," writes Barra, "He didn't saying anything that shouldn't have been said, and in fact said things the other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself."