Though the matter of Rush Limbaugh owning a large chunk of the St. Louis Rams could officially become moot as soon as Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. ET, if Limbaugh opts to publicly withdraw his bid to buy the team in the wake of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s barely-veiled “thanks but no thanks” comments from Tuesday, there are still some very intriguing aspects of the situation that need to be explored.
First, as Robert Schlesinger of U.S. News & World Report spells out in impressive detail, NFL owners over the past two decades typically lean heavily to the right, like Rush.
The majority of the league’s owners contribute heavily to Republican candidates over Democratic ones. For the Chargers, the split is 98 percent to two percent. The Texans’ political money goes to Republicans at a rate of 99 cents of every dollar given. In Cincinnati, the same ratio applies.
The teams that have donated a greater percentage to Democratic candidates include the Raiders, Eagles, Steelers, Patriots, 49ers, Dolphins, Bills, Lions, Seahawks.
The most money for Democratic candidates has come from, of all teams, the Rams.
But it’s not Limbaugh’s politics that will impede his bid to own a large portion of the Rams. It’s his expression of them.
And regardless of the debate over whether Limbaugh did or didn’t say things that have been attributed to him but that, as Limbaugh claims, don’t show up in the Limbaugh-generated tapes and transcripts of his show (in this regard, most lawyers know of at least one judge who is very adept at ensuring the official record of in-court statements never includes potentially embarrassing or controversial comments from the man or woman in black), it’s not what he has said in the past that should scare the owners — it’s what he might say in the future.
That point has been raised quite persuasively by, of all people, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who is at times as controversial as Limbaugh but who is polarizing based not on politics but on personality.
Says Cuban, “Given that we will never know what the ‘next big issue’ in this world that Rush will be discussing on his show is, it’s impossible for the NFL to even try to predict or gauge the impact on the NFL’s business if something controversial, or even worse yet, something nationally polarizing happens.”
So if Limbaugh gets a seat at the table, he’d probably have to give up his radio show.
Even then, he’d continually be the target of microphones and cameras, and his views on controversial issues would be known and publicized even without a 15-hour-per-week platform.
So it’s just not something that is going to work. And it’s just a matter of time before the bid is withdrawn or formally rejected.