Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton has joined the chorus of prominent voices opposing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh’s bid to buy the St. Louis Rams.
“I was disturbed to learn that there is a potential bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams and I would like to request a meeting with you to discuss the myriad of reasons as to why he should not be given an opportunity to do so,” Sharpton said in a letter (PDF) to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Sharpton said that Limbaugh has been “divisive and anti-NFL on several occasions.”
Limbaugh, who has recently been criticized by progressives for what they see as his “race-baiting” towards President Barack Obama, announced last week his intention to be part of a consortium of bidders who want to buy the St. Louis Rams.
That news was met with opposition from numerous NFL players, as well as the head of the NFL players’ union.
In an email to players on Saturday, NFL Players executive director DeMaurice Smith announced the union’s opposition to Limbaugh’s bid, implying that Limbaugh is divisive and an agent of “discrimination and hatred.”
“Sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends,” Smith wrote. “Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred.”
Several NFL players have said they would not play for the St. Louis Rams if it were owned by Limbaugh.
“All I know is from the last comment I heard, he said in (President) Obama’s America, white kids are getting beat up on the bus while black kids are chanting ‘right on,'” New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka told the New York Daily News. “I mean, I don’t want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play.”
In his letter, Rev. Sharpton referred to several incidents in Limbaugh’s past that suggest the radio host may have a racist attitude towards NFL players.
“The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons,” Limbaugh said in 2007.
In 2003, Limbaugh ended his stint as a commentator on ESPN after stating that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn’t as good a player as the media made him out to be, because “the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”
McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC championship games, and one Super Bowl, between 2001 and 2008.
Limbaugh’s bid has met with criticism from political commentators as well.
“NFL owners, it’s up to you,” wrote blogger Michael Roston. “If you want a crypto-racist who doesn’t care for women or exercise, doesn’t appear all that concerned about dog-fighting jokes, and compares you to rapists to join you at your round table, Rush Limbaugh is going to make a great addition to your skyboxes in the years ahead.”