- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BOSTON | Rush Limbaugh’s bid to buy the St. Louis Rams ran into opposition within the NFL on Tuesday, when Colts owner Jim Irsay vowed to vote against him and commissioner Roger Goodell said the conservative commentator’s “divisive” comments would not be tolerated from any NFL insider.

“I, myself, couldn’t even consider voting for him,” Irsay said at a meeting of NFL owners. “When there are comments that have been made that are inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive… our words do damage, and it’s something that we don’t need.”

Limbaugh has long been a hero of conservatives and villain on the left, thriving on his place in the political spectrum while establishing himself as one of the most successful broadcasters in history. But the NFL tries to avoid controversy, as Limbaugh learned in 2003 when he was forced to resign from ESPN after saying of Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb: “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

Goodell repeatedly distanced the league from Limbaugh’s statements on Tuesday, calling them “polarizing comments that we don’t think reflect accurately on the NFL or our players.”

“I have said many times before that we are all held to a higher standard here,” the commissioner said. “I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about. I would not want to see those kind of comments from people who are in a responsible position within the NFL. No. Absolutely not.”

According to transcripts posted on his Web site, in 2007 Limbaugh also said: “The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.” That comment and others resurfaced this month when he revealed he is teaming with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts to bid on the Rams.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Limbaugh said he was forced to respond because “the totally made-up and fabricated quotes attributed to me in recent media reports are outrageous and slanderous.” He also noted he would be a minority owner in the prospective group, adding he is from Missouri and was saddened when the Cardinals left for Arizona.

“I am happy to be involved in an effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis. I love the National Football League, I eagerly discuss it and promote it and I greatly admire the men who play in the league. They are the best at what they do,” he wrote. “It is regrettable that something I have dreamed about for years has taken this course. But the fight is worth it to me. I love the National Football League.”

The Rams updated the league on their potential sale Tuesday, but specific bidders were not discussed, Goodell said.

“They’re not certain they are even sellers,” New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said, adding that he expected a decision by the end of the season. “We can’t speculate on potential owners because they have not brought up any names to put before ownership. It’s out there, but without confirmation from the Rams or the Rosenbloom family, frankly, we don’t know who the potential buyers are.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft referred questions about Limbaugh to the commissioner. Texans owner Bob McNair said anyone who meets the “normal criteria” is a candidate to own a team.

“But our vetting process is very thorough,” McNair said.

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