RUSH: All right, my friends. It’s Open Line Friday. It is Super Bowl weekend, and I’m going to ask you to indulge me, because I want to bury this once and for all. Well, I don’t think it’s ever going to be buried, but I want to put another nail in the coffin nevertheless as we attempt to bury this, and this is about the controversy that will not be allowed to die; that is me, ESPN, black quarterbacks, and the media. McNabb came out and spoke earlier this week on ESPN about his problems with Terrell Owens, and this has spawned countless roundtable discussions on ESPN programs. Yesterday on one such program — it’s called Around the Horn; it airs around five o’clock Eastern Time — my point was finally established and proved and admitted to by a member of the media, although he doesn’t know he did it, which is why I am going to share it with you.
Now, to set this up, we’ve got to go back to September of 2003 when I was on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown show with Chris Berman, Steve Young, Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson, and this is the first of two segments that day that we had all decided to do on McNabb and the Eagles, because they were having a tough time in getting the season started in 2003. So Tom Jackson says, “I don’t think that…” Now, listen to this. This is what was being discussed in 2003. “I don’t think that benching McNabb is an option that they see right now. He’s going to have to lose a lot of football games before they bench him. I’d like to look again at that supporting cast. This guy, McNabb, is struggling. I’d be amazed if they don’t come out today and run the football with whoever they have, Correll Buckhalter, Duce Staley, run that football and give this guy a break at quarterback,” and Berman says, “Rush, you’re up.”
BEGIN AUDIO CLIP
RUSH: I’ve been listening to all of you guys, actually, and I think the sum total of what you’re all saying is that Donovan McNabb is regressing, he is going backwards —
TOM JACKSON: Mmm-hmm. (Nodding)
RUSH: — and my… I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern on the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.
TOM JACKSON: Mmm-hmm. (Nodding)
MICHAEL IRVIN: (Nodding)
RUSH: I think there is a lot of hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t really deserve. The defense carried this team, I think.
TOM JACKSON: But Rush — But Rush, somebody went to those championship games.
RUSH: Oh, they “went.”
TOM JACKSON: Somebody went to those pro bowls. Somebody made those plays that I saw running down the field, doing it with his legs, doing it with his arm. He has been a very effective quarterback for this football team over the last two or three years ?
RUSH: Yeah, but you take ?
TOM JACKSON: — and they didn’t have any more talent then than they do now.
RUSH: Oh yes they did: on defense. On defense, they did.
MICHAEL IRVIN: (Nodding)
TOM JACKSON: (Nodding) Oh, on defense they did. I’m talking on the offense side of the ball.
RUSH: Well, that’s what I’m saying. I think he got a lot of credit for the defensive side of the ball winning games for this team.
STEVE YOUNG: But I’ll tell you what. I’ll say it even more strongly, Tom. When they’re winning, nobody makes more plays —
TOM JACKSON: Right.
STEVE YOUNG: — than Donnvan McNabb. That guy is really one of the best in the league at making plays, but making plays does not win championships. Running the offense does. So at some point —
TOM JACKSON: Gotta run the offense.
STEVE YOUNG: — I think that Koy Detmer looks like a better option because he’ll go in there, drop back, and throw the ball correctly.
CHRIS BERMAN: Isn’t it odd that last year with the broken leg ? I know it was Arizona ? but the one game he was in the pocket he looked great.
STEVE YOUNG: He had to run that offense.
TOM JACKSON: So Rush, once you make that investment though ? once you make that investment in him, that’s a done deal.
RUSH: I’m saying it’s a good investment. Don’t misunderstand. I just don’t think he’s as good as everybody says he has been.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Rush has a point.
END AUDIO CLIP
RUSH: That’s Michael Irvin in there saying, “Rush has a point.” Now, you heard Steve Young throw McNabb under the bus suggesting that Koy Detmer would be a better choice to “run the offense.” Let’s go back to the thing that caused a firestorm that ended up hijacking the NFL season in 2003, because it’s all anybody could talk about. I said, “I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. I think we’ve had just a little social concern in the NFL. We’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb. He got a lot of credit for the performance of the team that he didn’t really deserve.” Bam! From that, folks, you would have thought the most stinging, irresponsible racist remark had ever been made since Jimmy “The Greek.”
Well, let’s jump forward from 2003 to yesterday on this ESPN show called Around the Horn. The host is Tony Reali. He’s talking with ESPN.com’s Michael Smith who interviewed McNabb on TV earlier this week, and Reali says, “You know, I don’t understand why this had to be about race just at the mention of a white quarterback. Brett Favre is the gold standard of all NFL quarterbacks. Wasn’t he just speaking of the best quarterback in the game, Michael Smith?” Listen to this and keep in mind what I said: “I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There’s social concern in the NFL. We’re interested in black coaches, black quarterbacks doing well, I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb, and the media has been propping him up.” Here’s Michael Smith’s answer.
SMITH: It’s not that he was picking out Brett Favre, it’s the fact that African-American quarterbacks need more support than criticism. Donovan McNabb has enough criticism to deal with. He didn’t need you picking out the gold standard of a white quarterback when everybody else is trying to take Donovan McNabb down as it is.
REALI: Well said, Michael.
RUSH: “Well said, Michael.” So what we just heard was Michael Smith say that it’s the fact that African-American quarterbacks need more support than criticism. Well, thank you, Michael Smith, who I think still does — no, I think he used to write for the Boston Globe. Thank you Michael Smith. That’s all I ever said, that there was a bias in favor of McNabb because they have a desire that black quarterbacks do well, so they’re not going to be as stridently criticized, pure and simple — and it has now been admitted to, even though this reporter may not realize he did that, on the very network where the original observation by me — a brilliant one, by the way — was made.
RUSH: You know what? What stands out, Mr. Snerdley, as you heard the ESPN segment involving me from September 2003? What stood out about that to you, that whole segment? When you listen to this? The fact is that nobody on that show responded to me in any way other than what I intended. We were discussing McNabb’s talent. Nobody on that show said, “Hey, Rush, that’s an uncalled for racial comment!” Nobody. Tom Jackson said, “Hey, wait a minute. You’re saying he’s not as good as everything thinks he is. Who scored all these touchdowns? Who ran all these plays? Who won all these pro bowls?” blah, blah, blah, blah, but not one reaction. Not one person on the show thought it was a racial comment, because it wasn’t, and ESPN shows later that night and on Monday night never even talked about that segment. It wasn’t until the Philadelphia print media blew it up on Tuesday that it skyrocketed and became what it was. It was an obvious campaign to… (interruption) I haven’t read the print media in Philadelphia today. Snerdley wants to know how they’re handling the latest round. Yesterday they were saying, “Quit griping, McNabb!” Stop playing the victim, was the theme yesterday. Quit griping. Stop playing the victim. Just go out and rebuild your reputation.
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