There are topics, and people, that I would rather not write about. Not only because I find them distasteful, but because, like viruses, they thrive and grow with exposure. The rule of thumb for virulent outbreaks is containment. But as I am going to be representing RamsHerd on another edition of Turf Show Radio tonight, and the topic is sure to come up, I feel I must break containment to make my position clear.
And that is this: Any involvement with Rush Limbaugh would be an unmitigated disaster for the Rams, from a football point of view.
My reasoning is aside from my strong distaste for his radio show, and his poisonous anti-black messages. In fact it would be the same reasoning if the name in the headlines was Bill Maher, or Oprah Winfrey, or any other reactionary media personality whose ongoing mission is to build and foster, and then profit from, a community of syncophants.
The arguments in favor of his joining Blues owner Dave Checketts in a bid are plentiful, and I must acknowledge them before moving forward:
- Dave Checketts has been a model owner, and has helped steer the Blues out of the catastrophic fallout of their slash-and-burn roster purge leading into the lockout, and back into the good graces of St Louis fans. He has shown an ability to resist meddling, and lured a strong hockey mind in John Davidson, and allowed him to lead the franchise.
- Limbaugh’s strong ties to Missouri would likely keep the Rams in St Louis, though it’s unknown how this would impact the impending stadium lease issue in 2015.
- Limbaugh brings with him a fan base that has tremendous numbers in the region, many of whom are likely to be currently alienated from the Rams, given their struggles of the last few years.
It’s this last point that is the heart of my objection. Limbaugh’s entire business model is to be the loudest and most strident voice in the room. His only means of revenue is dependent on amassing and retaining huge hordes of listeners — he is beholden to them, and makes no decisions regarding his business without first asking, “What will the Dittoheads say about this?”
Now, imagine that the Rams — their coaching hires, their personnel decisions, their draft board, everything down to their uniforms — are among the business decisions that Limbaugh has sway over. With every move, his first question will unfailingly be: “What will the Dittoheads say about this?” Whether or not you think Limbaugh believes the things that come out of his mouth, for pure business reasons he will brook no decision that goes against the will of his masses.
Every NFL team’s transactions and decisions are pored over by the sprawling fourth estate, and the rapidly growing “fifth estate” of online fans such as ourselves. Nothing escapes scrutiny. So whether or not Limbaugh himself brings up Rams football issues on his daily nationally syndicated radio show, you can bet that his listeners will.
Consider this scenario: In the pre-draft weeks of 1999, the Rams have an offer on the table from the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams would give up their second-round draft pick for a talented black running back with a reputation for being a locker room malcontent. Rush Limbaugh, part-owner of the Rams, asks himself: “What would the Dittoheads say about this?” The Rams politely decline the offer.
Come draft day, the Rams are looking at wide receivers. A lot of the football minds in the room, including new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, are clamoring for a brash young black talent from the University of North Carolina with incredibly soft hands and big-game ability. Rush Limbaugh, part-owner of the Rams, asks himself: “What would the Dittoheads say about this?” Instead of drafting Torry Holt, the Rams select David Boston from the Ohio State University.
Just like that the Greatest Show on Turf, the only winning era in St Louis professional football history, is wiped from existence, replaced by a stumbling mediocrity.
Just say no.