Ahead of the Curve
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Don't start buying St. Louis Ram jerseys just yet, Limbaugh loyalists.  Your man's chances of owning the Rams are about as likely as Sarah Palin becoming an Alaska housewife or Senator Grassley getting behind the "public option."  Not bloody likely.

Limbaugh's not without hope.  Two points work in his favor: first, he wisely teamed-up with a current Club member in a major sport, Dave Checketts (St. Louis Blues); second, his cult of personality is comprised of 20 million radio listeners who tune in religiously.

NFL accountants are today crunching numbers to predict how many of those listeners would become new fans of football if their leader became an owner.  Just a hunch, but I don't think his minions are the sporting crowd.  Rush seems to be their only thrill.

But while the NFL Owners Club is a bastion of wealthy, conservative men, all are careful to avoid making public statements which can jeopardize profits.  Money is their mission.

Rush Limbaugh is a right-wing forest fire who enjoys his polarizing influence.  There's a price to pay when you make your living by fanning the flames of fear and anger.  When seeking mainstream legitimacy, that price is an NFL Owners Club rejection-letter.

Forget about the GW Bush / Texas Rangers comparison.  The Bush family, while staunch conservatives, have always (post LBJ) presented themselves publicly as GOP moderates.

If you're offended by my projection, don't be.  Liberal shock jock Howard Stern will get the same rejection-letter if he seeks NFL membership.  And you need not be politically outspoken, as Mark Cuban discovered when MLB rejected his own bid for the Cubs.

Since the Pete Rozelle era the NFL has worked vigorously to cultivate a progressive, inclusive public image.  Charitable partnerships, minority employment (the Rooney Rule), kid programs and international ventures are all good for business.

When Reggie White arrived in Green Bay in the 90s, he not only revived success on the field but began to warm the Packer's icy reputation on race relations.  After Lombardi's departure, Green Bay had become a disfavored destination for minority players.

Given Limbaugh's dicey views on race, he could have the opposite effect in St. Louis (near 70% of players and a fast growing number of coaches in the NFL are black).

Even demi-gods can grow bored.  A devotee at NBC gave Limbaugh a try-out on election night 2000.  A few years later he had a brief stint on ESPN which ended badly after a racially-insensitive remark.

But times are good in the NFL: ratings are high.  Owners can afford to be choosey and they will.  And expect to see Sarah out politicking with family in tow, early next spring.

Steven Keys

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