Limbaugh rushes into rash analysis, misjudges McNabb
Sideline Scholars: Adam Montgomery
On the Sept. 28 broadcast of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, Rush Limbaugh let Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb know how it felt to be Jackie Robinson during his first years in the white Major Leagues.
During the current civil rights movement in our country it is ignorant to ignore the huge impact professional sports has played in our progress. From Jesse Owens to Hideo Nomo to Fernando Valenzuela to Althea Gibson to Muhammad Ali, they were not only at the top of their game, but they also made huge strides for their races and religion on the field and in society.
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media have been very desirous that a black quarterback does 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," Limbaugh said on Sunday NFL Countdown.
Bob Feller, a white Cleveland Indians pitcher who played at the same time as Robinson, remarked if Robinson "were a white man I doubt they would even consider him as big league material." This statement is an example of many criticisms received by Robinson during his time in baseball.
To understand just how racist and out of place these comments were and still are, let's look at some quick statistics about our two players at question.
Despite Donovan McNabb playing with a broken ankle during last year's playoffs, he has completed 1,003 passes with a 56.3 percent completion average during his 58-game career. McNabb has thrown for 10,499 yards with 72 touchdown passes.
Jackie Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for breaking the color barrier in sports. In 10 seasons Robinson had 1,508 hits and 947 runs with a batting average of .311.
Limbaugh statement that McNabb has gotten by the past four years in the NFL because the media want to see a black quarterback thrive, because of his race and not his talent, is ignorant of the past century in sports.
If Limbaugh would simply look in the past 10 years of sports, he would see that Randall Cunningham (who also played for the Eagles) and Rodney Peete were very successful and paved the way for the seven black quarterbacks who are currently starting in the NFL.
This statement only reminds us that the fight to fully integrate the sports world is incomplete. The National Hockey League is a perfect example of a sport that has been unsuccessful in breaking down the color barrier. This week in the NHL has announced that they are making progress in breaking down this wall by naming the first African-American team captain in league history as Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames.
If we look at all minority groups we can see a huge gap between their population in the United States and their involvement in professional sports. This gap may be sponsored by those not only in the sports world but also in the political arena who have run to Limbaugh's support.
The statement made by Limbaugh and followed by his supporters might have amplified the fact that maybe not all Americans would mind seeing professional sports as a whites only club, as seen before Robinson. If Limbaugh and his supporters believe this, then Americans have the right to call them bigots.
The ultimate question that I have asked myself is: how exactly does a right wing political news analyst make his way onto a football show?