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Liberal Sports writer admits "Rush Limbaugh Was Right"
Slate.msn ^ | 10/02/2003 | By Allen Barra

Posted on 10/03/2003 6:52:09 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants

In his notorious ESPN comments last Sunday night, Rush Limbaugh said he never thought the Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb was "that good of a quarterback."

If Limbaugh were a more astute analyst, he would have been even harsher and said, "Donovan McNabb is barely a mediocre quarterback." But other than that, Limbaugh pretty much spoke the truth. Limbaugh lost his job for saying in public what many football fans and analysts have been saying privately for the past couple of seasons.

Let's review: McNabb, he said, is "overrated ... what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well."

"There's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Let's take the football stuff first. For the past four seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the best defenses in the National Football League and have failed to make it to the Super Bowl primarily because of an ineffective offense—an offense run by Donovan McNabb. McNabb was a great college quarterback, in my estimation one of the best of the '90s while at Syracuse. (For the record, I helped persuade ESPN Magazine, then called ESPN Total Sports, to put him on the cover of the 1998 college-football preview issue.) He is one of the most talented athletes in the NFL, but that talent has not translated into greatness as a pro quarterback.

McNabb has started for the Eagles since the 2000 season. In that time, the Eagles offense has never ranked higher than 10th in the league in yards gained. In fact, their 10th-place rank in 2002 was easily their best; in their two previous seasons, they were 17th in a 32-team league. They rank 31st so far in 2003.

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, and Limbaugh is no football Einstein, which is probably why he spotted it.

The news that the Eagles defense has "carried" them over this period should be neither surprising nor controversial to anyone with access to simple NFL statistics—or for that matter, with access to a television. Yet, McNabb has received an overwhelming share of media attention and thus the credit. Now why is this?

Let's look at a quarterback with similar numbers who also plays for a team with a great defense. I don't know anyone who would call Brad Johnson one of the best quarterbacks in pro football—which is how McNabb is often referred to. In fact, I don't know anyone who would call Brad Johnson, on the evidence of his 10-year NFL career, much more than mediocre. Yet, Johnson's NFL career passer rating, as of last Sunday, is 7.3 points higher than McNabb's (84.8 to 77.5), he has completed his passes at a higher rate (61.8 percent to 56.4 percent), and has averaged significantly more yards per pass (6.84 to 5.91). McNabb excels in just one area, running, where he has gained 2,040 yards and scored 14 touchdowns to Johnson's 467 and seven. But McNabb has also been sacked more frequently than Johnson—more than once, on average, per game, which negates much of the rushing advantage.

In other words, in just about every way, Brad Johnson has been a more effective quarterback than McNabb and over a longer period.

And even if you say the stats don't matter and that a quarterback's job is to win games, Johnson comes out ahead. Johnson has something McNabb doesn't, a Super Bowl ring, which he went on to win after his Bucs trounced McNabb's Eagles in last year's NFC championship game by a score of 27-10. The Bucs and Eagles were regarded by everyone as having the two best defenses in the NFL last year. When they played in the championship game, the difference was that the Bucs defense completely bottled up McNabb while the Eagles defense couldn't stop Johnson.

In terms of performance, many NFL quarterbacks should be ranked ahead of McNabb. But McNabb has represented something special to all of us since he started his first game in the NFL, and we all know what that is.

Limbaugh is being excoriated for making race an issue in the NFL. This is hypocrisy. I don't know of a football writer who didn't regard the dearth of black NFL quarterbacks as one of the most important issues in the late '80s and early '90s. (The topic really caught fire after 1988, when Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.)

So far, no black quarterback has been able to dominate a league in which the majority of the players are black. To pretend that many of us didn't want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he's black is absurd. To say that we shouldn't root for a quarterback to win because he's black is every bit as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn't have rooted for Jackie Robinson to succeed because he was black. (Please, I don't need to be reminded that McNabb's situation is not so difficult or important as Robinson's—I'm talking about a principle.)

Consequently, it is equally absurd to say that the sports media haven't overrated Donovan McNabb because he's black. I'm sorry to have to say it; he is the quarterback for a team I root for. Instead of calling him overrated, I wish I could be admiring his Super Bowl rings. But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be.

Rush Limbaugh didn't say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn't say anything that he shouldn't have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself. I mean, if they didn't hire Rush Limbaugh to say things like this, what they did they hire him for? To talk about the prevent defense?

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bias; espn; media; rush; rushwasright
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1 posted on 10/03/2003 6:52:10 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
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To: Blood of Tyrants
good post
2 posted on 10/03/2003 6:53:33 AM PDT by The Wizard (Saddamocrats are enemies of America, treasonous everytime they speak)
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To: All
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3 posted on 10/03/2003 6:55:53 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
These are the little battles we are continuing to win in the Cultural War in America.
4 posted on 10/03/2003 7:00:00 AM PDT by Stars N Stripes
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Very well-written commentary. Thanks for posting it.
5 posted on 10/03/2003 7:00:34 AM PDT by truthkeeper
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To: Blood of Tyrants
We need to fully support Mr Limbaugh and free speech. It's time to circle the wagons. There is a full scale smear campaign underway.
6 posted on 10/03/2003 7:04:08 AM PDT by SolutionsOnly
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To: Blood of Tyrants
This is the type of discussion that should have occurred as a result of Rush's comments. Was what he said true or not? There are people who can defend the position that it is not true...a healthy debate.

The debate over whether he should have said it or not is ridiculous and destructive to the fabric of America.
7 posted on 10/03/2003 7:08:03 AM PDT by CMAC51
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To: truthkeeper
if a sports writer calls someone "the great white hope," is he/she a racist? isn't that phrase used a lot in boxing where over the last many years white boxers have not been as successful as Black and Latino fighters?

isn't pulling for an "underdog" ok? Or, if someone- for whatever reason- is called an "underdog," is that now considered politically incorrect? after all, a "dog" isn't exactly a compliment...

I thought black quarterbacks were underdogs in the sense that they were "under represented." I've always rooted for minorities when they were "under represented" at a position because I figured-- like Jackie Robinson-- they had a little more pressure on them.

anyway, I guess it isn't permissible to utter the phrase "great white hope" on tv at this point in time.
8 posted on 10/03/2003 7:09:14 AM PDT by Jack Bull
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Of all the hundreds of posts on this subject on FR, this by far is the God honest truth. Good read!
9 posted on 10/03/2003 7:12:15 AM PDT by Gerish
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To: The Wizard
good post

I'd say this is an excellent post. Too bad it will only be read or heard here which confirms the fact that nobocy wants to discuss what RUSH said, they just want to confuse what he said so as to label a conservative a racist.

10 posted on 10/03/2003 7:14:47 AM PDT by 1Old Pro (ESPN now has 4 little wimpy sissies left. I'm switching back to FOX.)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
About the first thing I have ever read from Slate that I could agree with.
11 posted on 10/03/2003 7:16:54 AM PDT by twntaipan (Defend Liberty! Defeat liberalism.)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
12 posted on 10/03/2003 7:17:49 AM PDT by malakhi (Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.)
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Blood of Tyrants
Nail. Head. Bang.

Too bad that most of the media's pundits are incapable of recognizing this... and most of those who do recognize this are unwilling to say so. This has been their opportunity for a Three Minute Hate, and they are reveling in it.

14 posted on 10/03/2003 7:25:08 AM PDT by Teacher317
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Great post. It made me think. Yes, Rush was right. Unfortunately, to keep his job on ESPN he had to soften what he was saying. Perhaps Rush knew where he was headed and wanted to make a point by taking a bullet? Whatever, it's a darn shame that the truth is no longer valued. Correctness is.
15 posted on 10/03/2003 7:25:20 AM PDT by brownsfan
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To: twntaipan
Slate? Wow. I missed that part. I may have to give them a small measure of respect for printing this one!
16 posted on 10/03/2003 7:26:22 AM PDT by Teacher317
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Great and accurate post. Finally.

Now if Rush were the racists that all these with crying towels claim him to be, then he would not have had Justice Thomas perform his wedding ceremony. It is gut wrenching how many children the liberals have willingly destroyed by brainwashing them into becoming a "victim".

This "HOW ONE FEELS" is exactly the most important thing being taught in our "PUBLIC" schools, and that is the reason the children cannot read, write, and speak the spoken language. Their minds are stunned with "my feelings are hurt".
17 posted on 10/03/2003 7:28:04 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: nina0113
18 posted on 10/03/2003 7:29:20 AM PDT by Steve0113
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Ironically, the Saturday before all this, several of us were sitting around discussing quarterbacks in the NFL. The general consensus was that NO scrambling quarterback had ever led his team to a Super Bowl AND won.

The scramblers seem to have as their first instinct to run with the ball and not move around in the pocket to buy time.

There was some discussion about John Elway, but then all of us agreed that when he won his two rings, he was no longer considered a scrambling quarterback and his arm strength (a la the "Elway Cross") was truly remarkable.

We then deduced that a scrambler was either going to hold the ball too long and either be sacked, forced to run around in the pocket and throw an interception or incompletion or tuck it under and run to the oooh's and aaaaah's of sportscasters on how great an athlete he is, who would then wonder why he can never seem to win the big one.

Daunte Culpepper's name came up....future Super Bowl winner if he is still around after he slows down and his lack of speed forces him to be a pocket first passer. Damn fine arm.
Jake Plummer....borderline only because he now has a good team around him; still has "happy feet".
Kordell Stewart...loser who has been intimidated into self doubt and now he can't run or pass.
Michael Vick...the one scrambler who could have broken the mold but now his broken leg might move him into the Kordell Stewart class or see him become even more erratic.
Randall Cunningham...Guy never slowed down. Too bad.

Fran Tarkenton...When he did slow down the rest of his team was even slower and his lack of arm strength then became really obvious.
Donovan McNabb...Fast approaching Kordell Stewart class. Already starting to throw the ball at the feet of his receivers. Thought his broken leg would help make him more of a classic quarterback but it seems to have made him even more hesitant.

Steve Young...Good championship until he slowed down and could no longer look to run to escape and then his arm strength and Super Bowl win made him HOF material.

At least that is what we came up with.

Yes, we did discuss others but these were the most notable.

19 posted on 10/03/2003 7:33:15 AM PDT by N. Theknow (How you know where I'm at, if you ain't been where I been? You understand where I'm coming from?)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
I simply wish Rush had backed up his comments with some facts like this guy, rather than claiming he's being persecuted for expressing his opinion.

I have seen nothing from Rush to back up his statements -- I don't follow Eagles reporting, and I have no idea whether Rush's opinion has basis....and until this article, the main issue was not even addressed by Rush.

Rush seemed to be playing the PC game, spending his energy on soothing hurt feelings, rather than coming out with both guns full of facts blazing away as I'd expect.

The lesson I get is that even the Maha Rushie can be spooked by groundless attacks from the mainstream press, and be convinced into playing prevent defense, when he should have been ramping up the offense.

20 posted on 10/03/2003 7:34:06 AM PDT by Monti Cello
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