Poor Rush Limbaugh. On his July 3 show he predicted the end of professional football as we know it. Petulantly defending the sport as "more popular in the offseason than other sports during their regular seasons," Limbaugh still predicted the demise of rock'em sock'em pro football because, you could see this one coming, liberals all hate the game. Or, he contends, they want to change it, soften it up and make it safe to play so that people won't get hurt.
But that's not what Rush thinks is the real problem, or the real reason why the NFL is in for a tussle. He compares the modern day NFL to liberal fights with Big Tobacco from the 1960s until today. He cites the taxes levied on Big Tobacco as examples of how liberals can ruin a good thing. Limbaugh now insists that liberals want to do the same thing to the NFL. Here's how he explained it (in paraphrase) on his July 3, 2o12 show; "Liberals never cared about your health or whether smoking causes cancer. All they ever wanted from Big Tobacco was money and political power."
Now here's the short list of what Limbaugh claims liberals want to do to the NFL:
- suck all the money out of pro football in legal fees to give to lawyers and special interests
- use the NFL as a platform for racial protest by claiming that pro football is actually a form of slavery
- take away all the fun for millions of Americans who tune into the games each week
- undercut the fiber of America by telling people what they can and cannot do, including indulgence in risky behavior if they so choose
These are all interesting arguments, but Rush also often contradicts himself when making accusations about liberals. For example, his main contention is that if liberals were had really been against smoking they would have tried to ban it.
How ironic is that? Limbaugh accusing liberals of something conservatives did with alcohol and Prohibition? If liberals had really tried that, we'd have an acknowledged failure on our hands, like the so-called War On Drugs.
But perhaps Limbaugh missed a few facts along the way. We should note that smoking has actually been banned in many respects, especially in environments such as the workplace, restaurants, bars and other public places. The world is a better, more breathable place because of these efforts. People who do not smoke no longer have to come home from a restaurant or bar smelling like a giant cigarette, or breathe second hand smoke, which has been known to cause breathing difficulties and contribute to cancer risks in innocent bystanders.
Of course Limbaugh refuses to acknowledge facts such as these. His ideas about freedom usually involve some grade of selfish defense for his own rather narrow interests along with an abhorrent and habitual lack of concern for the safety, comfort or welfare of others. At times his obsessive hatred for the needy or disadvantaged borders on pathological. For example, Limbaugh has openly stated there is no such thing as hunger in America. In Rush's ideological world, concern for other human beings is both an annoyance and a limitation on personal freedoms. Millions of his ardent fans must agree. What an America!
So what really is the fear factor for Rush when it comes to pro football? For starters (no pun intended), the NFL itself actually denied him opportunity for ownership of a team. Also, his career as a TV announcer never really took off thanks in part to those racist comments Limbaugh made about the comparative intelligence of black quarterbacks. The list of Limbaugh faux pas related to pro football just gets longer the closer we look. Yet Limbaugh seems chronically attached to the very game that denies him. Why such loyalty to a game that clearly does not want him publicly involved, except to fawn over its supposed manliness?
Could it be that the eternal egotist feels he has something to prove in order to be accepted into the big men's club that is the NFL? Perhaps four failed marriages have made Rush Limbaugh feel like he just can't get a first down and needs a dose of Sunday to face the prospect of facing yet another Monday morning alone with a microphone. No wonder he seems so testy all the time.
Yet despites Limbaugh's claims to its apparent perfection as the American game, even pro football has begun to acknowledge its frailties as a sport and a social institution. In recent years major news stories in Sports Illustrated, Men's Health and other publications have brought to light the poor health, mental and physical, of so many retired players. Tragic suicides of men like former Bears player David Duerson and Junior Seau outlined the risks of life in a concussive sport like football.
Now it has also come to light that there were bounties being paid to NFL players to knock the opposition out of action through injury. The NFL has scrambled to action, banning coaches and fining players for these actions. But the secret's out: the NFL may foster a corrupt, money-grubbing culture that cares not who gets hurt as long as the television contracts roll in and the owners are making money.
So despite Limbaugh's contention that it will be some sort of liberal conspiracy that will bring down the NFL, that is neither true or likely to happen. What may transpire is a major adjustment in how the NFL views and presents its product. It may ultimately be forced to consider its long term effects on NFL alumni, many of whom live in lifelong pain or disability as a result of the injuries and physical beating sustained during their NFL careers.
Maybe Limbaugh doesn't care about that, just like he probably does not care about the millions of people whose lives are adversely affected by smoking cigarettes, and whose tragic addictions to nicotine costs our health system billions of dollars each year. No, in Limbaugh's world those are "choices" people are free to make--even if the products in question have been proven addictive. But tellingly, Limbaugh saw fit to deny his own addiction to Oxycontin, even breaking laws to get his hands on more of the drug until he was finally forced to go public with his treatment. Addictive personalities have been known to become combative in defense of their precious habits and sometimes delusional worldviews. Is that what we are witnessing on a grand scale in the likes of Rush Limbaugh? It certainly seems so.
Limbaugh is perhaps addicted to the brain rush that is pro football is well. And like all addicts, he is not one to give up his habit easily, even when the very people who play and run the game admit there are problems, real problems, with how the product known as the NFL is affecting the very people who play and manage the game.
Rather than come to healthy terms with reform on such issues, including player safety, league and team culture and sporting ethics, Limbaugh wants the NFL to tell everyone to just shove it and go on acting like it always has. The NFL is America's big shiny plaything, a violent antidote to the Sunday malaise of churchgoing citizens.
It's the irony of a strand of belief in America that we're at once supposedly a religious nation and yet so drawn to sports that mimic our violent history and a male dominated society. Of course Limbaugh likes it that way, and we can feel sorry for him in that regard, because he is not only behind the times, he is behind the attitudes that resist healthy change in America. His own compulsion to compare pro football to Big Tobacco emphatically proves the opposite point he was trying to make, for even Limbaugh failed to see the critical nuance of his own argument, that is the need for change when people are being harmed.
It's almost as if Limbaugh fumbled the ball. Imagine that. So we should feel sorry for a man who can't seem to carry the weight of his own mind, or the perverse arguments he makes.