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The Classless NFL Culture

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here is Lance, El Paso, Texas, you're up first today on Open Line Friday. Great to have you with us, sir.

CALLER: Mr. Limbaugh, how are you?

RUSH: Just fine, sir.

CALLER: I've listened to you since September 11th, and I find that I almost always agree with you. I'd say I only disagree with you about 1.5% of the time coincidentally enough. But the reason I'm calling today, sir, is I wanted to get your thoughts regarding what LaDainian Tomlinson had to say about Bill Belichick this past week.

RUSH: Okay, I'm going to take your call, I'm going to use this to expand the answer to incorporate all of the National Football League if you don't mind.

CALLER: Not at all.

RUSH: To set the table for people who do not know, after the Chargers and Patriots game, the Chargers sitting around moping, all depressed, because they had the game won, it was just all kinds of stupid mistakes, and let me tell you what happened. Some of the Patriots went to midfield where the Chargers logo is and started doing an imitation of a victory dance done by Chargers player Shawne Merriman after he sacks a quarterback. Now, here are the Chargers who have lost a game they should have won, who lost a game precisely because of the same kind of behavior they're ripping the Patriots for, and LaDainian Tomlinson says that was classless, (paraphrasing) “We went in there, we beat them twice on their field and we didn't disrespect them. This obviously comes from the head coach," meaning Belichick. LaDainian Tomlinson was accusing Belichick of ordering his players and creating a culture that would make it okay for players to go on the field and taunt and so forth and so on.

Now, LaDainian Tomlinson to me is the classiest player in the National Football League. He doesn't do a dance, he doesn't spike the ball when he scores. He and Marvin Harrison are the two most classy individuals playing in the National Football League today, in skill positions. They just hand the ball back to the referee. They act like they've been there and done that, like scoring a touchdown is no big deal, they don't taunt, they don't act like they've been dissed or any of this. Let me tell you, the Chargers would not have lost that game were it not for a bunch of -- I gotta be very careful here. It's not just irresponsible, but there is a cultural problem in the NFL that has resulted in a total lack of class on the part of professional players.

There was a play where Brady was third and long, he was sacked, fumbled the ball, the Patriots recovered it, it will be fourth and long, forcing an interesting decision late in the game by the Patriots. After the play is over, a Chargers player gets in the face of a Patriots player, head butts him and starts jawing. This is the reason these guys are getting shot in bars, folks, late at night. Fifteen-yard penalty, automatic first down. So for the Chargers to complain about the lack of class by the Patriots, I found laughable. I think something ought to be done about it, because I love the game of football, and I don't like the kind of culture that's taking over, that "you can't diss me, you can't disrespect me." After every sack, players are acting like they've won the Super Bowl, and they're prancing around with these idiotic dances. The latest thing is to act like they're making a jump shot in basketball. It's all done to taunt; it's all done to taunt the other team's fans.

I don't want boring football. I don't want the no-fun league, but you can certainly have great football games without a lack of class. I don't know how it's been allowed to happen this way. I guess the coaches don't feel confident to continue -- this was very rare for the Patriots to act the way they did, and who knows what led to it. I don't think of Belichick as that kind of coach, but Tomlinson's words reverberated around the league. A lot of people said, ?I'm glad he said something, because Belichick is getting away here with an image that he doesn't deserve.? I've played golf with Belichick; he's a mild-mannered, soft-spoken man. I even saw him at a cocktail party here in Palm Beach before dinner one night. That whole organization to me exudes class, as does Tom Brady, and you don't see them doing this kind of stuff.
One of the reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers had trouble this year was a total lack of discipline, in addition to all their turnovers, total lack of discipline, 15-yard penalties, unnecessary roughness, taunting after plays are over, after successful defensive stands, they blow it. There's something culturally wrong here that is leading to all this. It?s gotta be dealt with at the top, because it simply is classless. I can I understand LaDainian Tomlinson being upset because he doesn't do this stuff. But in the current NFL climate the best way for the Chargers to prevent that from happening is win the game and keep this insidious, ridiculous, boorish, classless behavior to a minimum so that you don't lose it on account of that. It's just disappointing, and it's a mystery to me why it's being allowed to continue. Well, actually, I understand partially why it continues, and that's because of ESPN.
ESPN lives off this. ESPN created Terrell Owens. Terrell Owens is who he is, but if Terrell Owens weren't constantly on television with his antics after touchdowns -- I remember, I called this. You remember the Monday night game on ABC and Seattle when after scoring a touchdown, T.O. playing for the Fort'iners, pulls a Sharpie out of his sock, autographs the ball and gives it to somebody. I said, ?Folks, this is going to lead to nothing but trouble.? Everybody said, ?Come on, Rush, lighten up, that was funny.? It was classless. Go back and look at the greats who played this game. They would not do anything of the sort, maybe hand the ball off, but not pull a Sharpie out. Everybody started to talk about how much fun that was, ooh, how cool, how creative. Then we get Joe Horn of the United States Saints after he scored a touchdown pulling a cell phone out of his socks and faked making a phone call. Well, guess what shows up on ESPN? So these guys get validated, everybody wants to stand out, they want to get endorsement deals and so forth. So television, making stars out of people who engage in classless behavior helps lead to it and contribute to it. No question in my mind about it. I'll bet the guy that called from El Paso did not expect this as an answer.
BREAK TRANSCRIPT
RUSH: Look it, let me put it to you this way. The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.
BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Brookings, Oregon, Bryce, glad you called, sir.
CALLER: Hey, dittos, Rush.
RUSH: Hey.
CALLER: I wanted to go back to your NFL thing, and where all this celebration and disrespect that they're talking about came from. And I think it started clear back in the eighties with the New York Jets and a particular lineman by the name of Mark Gastineau.
RUSH: Oh, yeah, 99, Mark Gastineau, part of the New York Sack Exchange with Joe Klecko.
CALLER: See, I couldn't remember the other guy's name, Joe Klecko.
RUSH: Yeah, Klecko was pretty cool, but you're right, Gastineau did the first sack dance.
CALLER: Yeah, right over the top of whoever, the quarterback or -- dumped the lineman in the backfield --
RUSH: That's right, that's right.
CALLER: -- and they started that, that's what they do today. Now the owners are just adding the gang signs and the black colors and everything, and it's moving up into the stands.
RUSH: What do you mean gang signs? What do you mean?
CALLER: Well, you watch, some of the stuff you think is a Heisman statue or something, you know, they're not in college anymore. What are they doing a Heisman pose? Okay, so if you check with the prisons and stuff, some of these are gang signs they're flashing that they're doing after these incredible sacks --
RUSH: Wait a minute, wait a second, wait a second.
CALLER: Why do you think the NFL players are all going to black? Look how much more black there is now?
RUSH: I understand that. I know that the uniforms, all-black uniforms or alternate jerseys that have black on them, and I know that that has roots supposedly -- I've been told it has roots in gang culture.
CALLER: Exactly.
RUSH: But wait. The behavior, you're saying that on-field behavior is rooted in gang?
CALLER: Absolutely.
RUSH: How so? These guys are not members of gangs.
CALLER: They're not? They're not? You got it in the NBA as well that they're doing. One particular player just got traded. He's come right out and talked about it.
RUSH: Well, I know the NBA guys have as their idols hip-hoppers and rappers.
CALLER: Exactly.

RUSH: Well, there a lot of reasons, but basically it boils down to, in my opinion, a lack of class and a lack of discipline on the part of -- and these are young guys, too, for the most part. These are out of college, if they ever went, twenties, a lot of money. You know, Darrent Williams, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Denver on New Year's Eve after the Broncos lost a heartbreaker in the playoffs. He had been an NBA players party with Kenyon Martin and they are trying to find out if a scuffle happened in there, was he involved in it or not. He had cleaned his life up. He'd come from poor beginnings and so forth, but a lot of people have theories on this. I've heard this uniform black business has roots in gang culture, but I think this is also rooted in you don't diss me, you don't disrespect me, and disrespect can occur with just the wrong glance. There's a hypersensitivity to it, but it's not just black players who are engaging in this kind of behavior.
I think it's a just general decline in class, and you can't leave out the television aspect of this. It gets you on TV, gets you on the highlight reel. There are many, many factors in it. There's no question and it's only going to keep getting worse. When this stuff starts costing team games in the playoffs or even the regular season, I would think somebody somewhere, at the league level or ownership, enough is enough here. Look, we're paying you guys a lot, you are professionals here. This is the best you can be in football in this country. But there's so much money flowing into it now that they may not perceive it as a problem. I don't know how many fans are like me and get disgusted by it. I get disgusted by it because it always ends up affecting the outcome of the game. In addition to just the lack of class overall, all this stuff ends up affecting the outcome of the game. Teams are losing games because of this kind of behavior that they otherwise would win.
BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Bonita Springs, Florida, this is Ian. Hello, sir.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, mega dittos from beautiful southwest Florida.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Enjoying the lovely sunshine yet again.
RUSH: Yes. About 80 degrees while the rest of the country is in the deep freeze of global warming.
CALLER: Absolutely.
RUSH: Well, everybody has to be somewhere. You and me are places that are nice to be.
CALLER: Absolutely.
RUSH: Screw 'em.
CALLER: Hey, wanted to take you back to the classlessness of the NFL. I think it comes back to two items in particular. One, I don't think a lot of these guys have ever had anyone around them to say "no," and, two, I think a good majority of them forget that they play a game to make a living.
RUSH: You know, I hear this. It's a game because at the end of the day, the future of the country doesn't depend on it and that sort of thing, but I'll tell you something, you ever been on the sideline of an NFL game?
CALLER: NFL, no. College, yes.
RUSH: Well, it's not the same. Folks, we sit here, we talk about this from our distance as fans, but you don't know how tough these guys are. You and I wouldn't last two plays out there, some wouldn't last one. Just the collision on the offensive line in a running play would end your ability to walk. These guys are so tough. So it's a game, but I mean they've got very little time to make their money, they can end their career in an injury, in a split second. It's a game, yeah, but this is a tough guy's game. This is a real man's game. It attracts real guys and that's part of the culture problem here. You're right, there needs to be some discipline started earlier in their lives.

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