I Will Root For Tebow Like The Media Rooted For Donovan McNabb (In Other Words, Rush Was Right)
The Rush Limbaugh/Donovan McNabb row from 2003 will always be the most unheralded case of media malpractice in history. The last line of Rush’s ESPN observations about the spotlight on then Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb was intentionally cut out of every subsequent broadcast of his comments.
That last line was important, because it made clear that Rush was engaged in praise, not criticism. It also made clear his topic was the media, not McNabb himself. But to make Rush look bad, one had to delete his last sentence, and every media outlet did so to support a false charge of racism.
Let me set the stage as it was back in’03. Donovan McNabb was the highest paid player in NFL history. He was in a multitude of commercials. Coverage of him was so positive that McNabb became the classic media darling.
The problem was — he was playing poorly. He had the lowest QB rating in the NFL. His team had a losing record and his offense was ranked #31 in the league.
The ESPN producers (not Rush) decided to have the analysts talk about the disconnect between McNabb’s popularity and McNabb’s performance.
It wasn’t Rush who brought it up. The other analysts spoke first. No one called Michael Irving a racist when he agreed with Rush. No one called Steve Young a racist when he suggested Koy Detmer as a better QB than McNabb.
Here is exactly what Rush said and note well the topic is media investment in McNabb:
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. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.
That’s all every media outlet would play of the clip. The media’s assertion was that Rush was being racist even though Rush didn’t say anything about McNabb’s performance in relation to his skin color. He commented on media fawning in relation to McNabb’s skin color.
The media wanted revenge and yelled “Racism!” louder than anyone else could yell, “Play the rest of Rush’s statement!”
So what did Rush say later in the transcript? Here is the exchange, widely suppressed, between Rush and Tom Jackson about the media investment in McNabb:
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.
Start…the…presses. Not only was Rush not being critical of McNabb, he wasn’t even criticizing the media. He said their investment in McNabb, their desire to see a league dominant black quarterback, was “a good investment.”
It would be impossible to paint Rush as a racist if the clip played included his statement that the media rooting for a black QB was a “good” thing.
Of course it was. The integration of black athletes into the quarterback spot didn’t occur in earnest until the latter part of the 20th Century. Rush was being a good American in noting that and rooting for the end of quarterback apartheid in the NFL, and more to the point, to acknowledge the media was rightly rooting for it too. It can only help the black individual to know that another part of racism has gone away. Whether they want to admit it or not, Rush’s detractors were railing against a pro-integration comment.
To show Rush’s sincerity, find if you can (but I doubt you can) Rush’s ESPN commentary from the week before the McNabb row. Rush’s topic was the need for more blacks in front offices in the NFL. Oh what a racist.
Yet, in a news world run by liberals, you can not point out that it is OK for media to root for a league dominant black quarterback. Unless of course you are one of the liberal media yourself, like the Washington Post. Then it’s Ok.
As a Jet fan, this brings me to Tim Tebow. He is a great quarterback precisely because he plays “different.” Guys like Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick were the first time we saw a tailback in the QB spot and watching them run circles around the defense was exciting. Tebow is the first fullback in a QB spot. Watching him lower his shoulder and plow through defensive lineman is just as exciting. He is also a fourth quarter savant, the same reason why New York loves Eli Manning. He’s got the football chops.
Yet there is that other thing – Tim Tebow’s unashamed Christianity. I love it. There isn’t enough of it. Christians have become accustomed to whispering our faith when we should be heralding it with glorious exhilaration. We need to help ourselves by pushing back against anti-Christian bigotry.
Yes, I’m happy to say it - I’d like to see a league dominant Christian athlete. Yes I’d like to see the media join me in that (but I won’t hold my breath).
Tim Tebow can’t guarantee football success because he is a Christian, but his faith can help him personally do his best (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13).
To see him do well while being very public in his praise of the Lord is something this country needs more of, so I root for him not just because he is a great quarterback, not just because he is a Jet, and not just because he is a Christian.
I root for him because I’m a Christian. It helps me.
 When I wrote about this topic back in 2009, I could not find a complete transcript anywhere. ESPN does not release them. I wrote to them and asked. I advertised on my blog that I needed a complete transcript. Someone named “ebounding” responded to me and said they uploaded it to YouTube. Whether “ebounding” works for ESPN and was responding to my request I still don’t know. The video is here.