Rush, the media, McNabb, and ESPN

ESPN: no backbone?

To be honest, I didn’t ever mean to spend so much time at MO on this subject. Unless there are major developments in the future, this will be my last post on the matter. But Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping has a very good post in which he questions ESPN’s position in all this. The show where Rush made the comments about the media and Donovan McNabb is SCRIPTED. ESPN and the others on the show knew what Rush was going to say. Apparently, they didn’t lift a finger to stop him. (Michael Irvin, in fact, agreed with Rush, but I’m not sure if that helps his case or hurts it.) Sensing quotes an excellent Michael Williams post:

The one thing that stands out to me is that these comments weren’t spontaneous, they were scripted out days in advance in collaboration with the other panelists and the producers. The on-air conversations are planned ahead of time; each member comes up with their own lines, and the group then tries to work them together into a cohesive whole.

Sensing notes

I agree that the producers and almost certainly the other commentators knew that the topic was on Rush’s plate; Rush affirmed the day after that it was not spontaneous and he had thought carefully about it. I am not so sure that they knew in advance exactly the way he would phrase it.


But the question is nonetheless begged: if any commentator other other than Rush Limbaugh had said substantially what Rush said, in substantially the same way, would there have erupted this furor? I dunno, but it’s a fair question.

With this I agree completely. As I noted earlier, Rush is universally hated by all liberals and most of the mainstream media. They call him names and make fun of him, but there’s no doubt that they fear the power he wields over certain parts of the population. This situation doesn’t explode in the national media if a regular sports commentator makes the claim instead of Rush.

As far as McNabb’s ability, I personally think he’s one of the top quarterbacks, measured in pure ability, playing in the NFL today. But maybe I’ve just been suckered in by the over-hype?

Much has been made that it’s been the defense that has carried the Eagles during his short career in Philadelphia.

No F-ing kidding, folks. Tampa Bay’s defense has been carrying THEM for nearly a decade. The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a few years ago with almost NO offense capability whatsoever. When the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl after the 1985 season, no one questioned Jim McMahon’s and Walter Payton’s ability just because the defense on that awesome team overshadowed the offense.

Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and the aforementioned Michael Irvin put up much better numbers during their run in Dallas than they might have otherwise because the Cowboys defense was SO DAMN GOOD. Dallas kept getting the ball back when their defense stopped opposing teams dead in their tracks, and the offense not only got more chances (quantity) to move the ball and accumulate statistics, but they got BETTER chances (quality) because the defense they were working against was always tired and backed against the wall.

To suggest that offensive players are mediocre because their team has a good defense is just plain silly. What Rush actually suggested was that the Eagles’ TEAM RECORD was better than it would have been with a lousy defense. That’s obvious. But it doesn’t really reflect on Donovan McNabb’s personal ability level.

Something that DOES have a direct impact on his effectiveness is the quality of players around him on offense. With a few notable exceptions, the rest of the Philadelphia offense seems pretty mediocre to me. I mean, after three games this season HE’S LEADING HIS TEAM IN RUSHING. (No pun intended). Todd Pinkston and James Thrash are his top wide receivers. It’s been a revolving door at running back due to injuries. Give McNabb WRs Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper, RB Emmitt Smith, TE Jay Novacek, and the 1993 Dallas offensive line and McNabb would be TEARING THE LEAGUE APART. Almost any quarterback would be. But did everyone think QB Troy Aikman was mediocre just because he was surrounded by such incredible talent? No one did.

But Donovan McNabb is certainly hampered by the offensive personnel around him, and with so much of the vaunted defense ailing these days, it’s no wonder that the team is struggling. That doesn’t mean he’s mediocre.

I think Rush is wrong about McNabb’s ability. I think he might be right about media bias towards black quarterbacks, and in any event I don’t believe it’s racist to ask the question. And I think ESPN is wrong to have allowed the comments to be made but not to stand by their employee after the fact.

And you have no idea how tough it is, as a Washington Redskins fan, to put my admiration for any Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, or Chicago Bears players in writing.