Most everything that could be written and discussed about in recent news that Rush Limbaugh wanted to buy into a group seeking to purchase the St. Louis Rams, has been said and documented. What’s lingered in the back of the room is the reality of why the conservative talk show host was bumped from potential investor David Checketts’ roster.
Despite what Limbaugh said on his radio show, it wasn’t his politics. It may not have even been his divisive comments that criticize groups of people that combined to create his reputation. The reason is public relations, and his name hitched to the NFL’s, didn’t make it positive.
As ProFootballTalk paraphrased, Limbaugh argued that his exclusion from the process originated with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Limbaugh argued that Smith is acting as an operative for the Obama administration, and that Smith essentially scared NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell into not doing business with the talk show host.
An operative…really? The next thing we know little purple men will rule against airing Limbaugh’s show on another planet.
The only thing that influenced DeMaurice and Goodell was the image of the NFL that could be tarnished by future, critical comments. Precedent was set in 2003 when as a member of ESPN’s studio show, Limbaugh suggested that people wanted Donovan McNabb to succeed because of the color of his skin.
While controversy and divisiveness drives radio ratings, it does not sell everywhere. In Limbaugh’s case, he demands credit for them when it involves support for his show and causes.
The beauty of the United States of America is that we have individual and broad rights, including the one to lay out millions of dollars to invest in professional sports organizations. The governing bodies of these groups, however, have rights to accept or deny a buyer based on his or her background. Limbaugh’s intent to buy into Checketts’ group was controversial before the team officially posted a sales sign, which didn’t bode well for the future. The most publicly sensible thing for everybody involved was to break up before the “I dos” were recited.
This recent news has provided thousands of megabytes worth of publicity for Limbaugh and the NFL. The unfortunate part is that Limbaugh wasted no time in blaming others for the result. He must take responsibility for his words each day, not just when it’s convenient. Only then will the public relations implications of his future ventures resemble a win-win.
Other posts on Sports Public Relations by Gail Sideman:
- Serena Steals the Spotlight for All the Wrong Reasons
- It Takes More Than Balls To Achieve PR Success In Sports
- Sports Public Relations Critical to Athlete Playbook
- SEC Caught in PR Firestorm Over Social Media Policy
- Vick Has His Say, But Do We Believe Him? Does It Matter?
- Sports Images Take a Beating, Making Effective PR All the More Important
- Sports Media PR, Then and Now