RUSH: Here’s Robert in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Robert, it’s nice that you called. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Rush, it’s a pleasure.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Ummmm. I’m calling to talk about the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
CALLER: Yeah. A lot of people don’t know it’s entertainment, but apparently it is. I was curious the way that they brought up the T.O. incident. An ESPN employee talked about —
RUSH: I know where you’re going with this. Let me pick this up because I know exactly where you’re going with it. Let me guess. You are going to see that ESPN has a role, played a role in this whole fracas involving Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens because they pumped up what one of their own commentators, Michael Irvin, said about the Eagles being better off with Brett Favre as quarterback than McNabb, right?
RUSH: And me.
RUSH: Let’s go back to the beginning on this because this is something that has… it seems like it never made an impact when it happened. This original ESPN, quote, unquote “incident” with me on the Sunday pregame show — how many years ago was this now, two? — Two years ago. The Eagles were coming off a good season but they lost the championship game again in the previous season and they were off to a bad start and McNabb, unbeknownst to anybody at the time, had a bad thumb and just couldn’t complete a pass. I mean, he couldn’t complete a pass to somebody ten yards in front of him and the show did two segments on it, “What’s wrong with the Eagles? What’s wrong with McNabb?” and I opined in the “What’s wrong with McNabb?” segment that I think that there was nothing wrong here. The Eagles defense is not getting the credit it deserves. I said that the media has a little social conscience invested in McNabb as a black quarterback and they’re not reporting accurately his failings. I used different words. I don’t even remember what the words are, but that pretty much summed it up. At the very end of that segment, before it went to commercial break, Michael Irvin said Rush is right. Now, you gotta keep that comment in mind to keep all this in context. Irvin saying Rush is right. I have to tell you something. Of all the people on that show, Michael Irvin was the one I was closest to, got along with the best, had the best time with. We spent a lot of time talking football and life and his future and what he hoped to make of this opportunity at ESPN. So I really got to like him.
We were… We were… I don’t know “friends.” It wasn’t long enough to establish a real friendship with the guy but I really like him. I still do, and he did say that. So the brouhaha happened. The Philadelphia media erupted on the Tuesday following that. Nothing happened that night on ESPN. Nothing happened the following Monday on ESPN. Nothing happened in the media, but on Tuesday, the Philadelphia written media, the print media went nuts, claiming I had made racist comments, so forth and so on and it led to where it led. This latest fracas with the Eagles involves Terrell Owens and McNabb and what the caller here is talking about is that earlier this past week Michael Irvin had made the comment that he thought if the Eagles had Brett Favre quarterbacking this year instead of McNabb, that they’d be undefeated. Terrell Owens then doing an interview later in the week was asked about this by ESPN, “Do you agree with what Irvin said?” Oh, yeah. Owens agreed that if they had Brett Favre, he’s a better quarterback, blah, blah, whatever. This led to all kinds of things, aclubhouse fight, locker room fight over the I guess Friday or Saturday, Andy Reid telling Owens he better apologize to the organization, to the team, and to McNabb, and he apologized to the organization but nobody else so he got suspended. So Robert here is thinking ESPN has a role in all of this. They’re not just a sports network reporting the news, that they are instigating things.
Perhaps. It’s sports so it’s not that big a deal, but in the big scheme… Well, I know people who say, “Rush, get back to the issues!” I know how you people are. “Talk football on Sunday when we don’t have to listen to it!” I get all those e-mails from two or three people who send it in under five or six thousand different aliases, but it’s all the same e-mail. My friend, Phil Mushnick, who writes a column in the New York Post on Friday, Sunday and Monday, which basically is a sports media analysis column, thinks that ESPN has destroyed sports, that sports used to be really fun to watch but they’ve destroyed the young kids that go into sports they’ve destroyed young athletes by orienting toward making the ESPN highlight reels, outrageous behavior to get noticed, so forth and so on rather than focusing on on-field performance to get noticed, blah, blah, blah — and actually last week in one of his pieces referred to ESPN as “the MTV of sports,” and one of his pieces was: Everybody I talk to at ESPN really detests what it’s become, but I can’t find the guy who is doing what they’ve become, because everybody I talked to detests it, but I can’t find the guy doing it. If everybody I talk to detests it, why is it happening? But I can’t find a guy who’s doing it. I can’t find anybody who loves what they’re doing, so it must be somebody who loves what they’re doing at ESPN, but I can’t find him, because everybody I talk to detests what they’ve become.
So let that be an answer to you, Robert. I think a lot of people are — and sports has many commentators just like politics does, and there are wide and varying opinions on all this. But one thing you have to know is that when you get into sports, the media people are just like they are anywhere else. They’re all liberals. They’re all leftists. They’re all just like any media covering politics is. (interruption) Snerdley is asking me if I think what happened here was fair to T.O. (sigh) Look, I offered to broker this peace, and I was ignored on this. I could have solved this problem. But, of course, I wasn’t desired to be a part of the solution to the problem. But I don’t think the Eagles had any choice. This guy, ever since training camp, has been trying to get traded. This guy’s outburst earlier last week was he couldn’t believe that the Eagles wouldn’t stop everything and celebrate his 100th career touchdown and they took him aside, Joe Banner who runs the Eagles took him aside and said, “Hey, we don’t celebrate individual achievement here. We’re a team.” So T.O. said, “I understand the Eagles don’t celebrate individual achievement; I apologize,” but he didn’t apologize to the team for what he had done, and he didn’t apologize to McNabb for all that he’s said and done about McNabb and to McNabb since training camp this year started.
He’s been far more brutal on McNabb than I ever was. I have admiration for McNabb. I’ve always thought McNabb is a good quarterback. I just didn’t think he was God’s gift to football like the media did way back then. But I have inoculated McNabb against criticism. Nobody can criticize him now. If the incident with me hadn’t happened, T.O. might have had a little more lack of… might have had a little bit more… (interruption) (sigh) No, I mean they might have given him a little bit more latitude here. But McNabb is above-and-beyond criticism now. He’s been inoculated against it. When one of his own teammates does it… I think, you know, Owens is just one of these me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me guys, and they look past this once you’re performing and once you’re winning but the Eagles (4-4) aren’t doing either right now and so you’ve got to focus on the problem and root it out. It is a team game, there’s no question, and if somebody on the team wants it to be all about them you are going to have problems in the locker room that are going to lead to other problems that will find their way onto the field like they have in this circumstance.
By the way, Tom Jackson of ESPN thinks that T.O. should be thrown off the team, cut, gotten rid of, pure poison. But everybody knows that somebody else will pick him up. But, the one thing he’s done — his whole purpose, his whole purpose in this whole charade — has been to get a new contract, and what he’s done is cost himself gazillions of dollars, because whoever does sign him is going to put him on a one-year deal with all kinds of behavioral clauses and it’s not going to be the big money that he wants. He’s blown it. There’s a lesson in all of this. Even in these so-called modern times, where anything goes, the truth is often something other than that. That model behavior is… You Eagles fans, you football fans, it’s no accident that Michael Westbrook who they were really playing hardball with — their running back, really playing hardball with — on a contract extension. It’s no accident they gave him his money last week in the middle of this T.O. stuff because Westbrook has kept it inside hasn’t complained hasn’t moaned hasn’t run around going, “Me, me, me, me, me, me, me,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if that really burned Owens, too, when Westbrook got his five-year deal and they wouldn’t tear Terrell’s up and give him what he wanted, even though they gave him exactly what he wanted one year ago.