There has been plenty of Jim Irsay detractors over the years in Indianapolis and my name is certainly one that was on that list. After Irsay’s epic and justifiable denouncing of Rush Limbaugh and his efforts to join the elite NFL owners club, I was promptly forced to reconsider my opinion of this second generation owner.
By now, you have all heard that largely due to the objections made by Irsay and a subsequent media firestorm, Limbaugh is right where he belongs pertaining to his bid to be a partial owner of the St. Louis Rams. On the outside looking in.
Disregarding any possible sanctions from the NFL for his stance, Irsay fired a much needed shot across the bow when he proclaimed at the recent owners meetings he could not vote to approve NFL ownership for a man like Limbaugh, who has made disparaging comments about African-Americans. Irsay used words like inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive to describe comments Limbaugh has made in the past, and noted that his words had hurt many people.
But the bigger question in my opinion is why more NFL owners have not joined Irsay in this matter? To date, only Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has stood up to join Irsay, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the NFL Players Union in opposing the Limbaugh ownership initiative. That is both mind boggling and sad in terms of what really matters here in this vetting process. The silence of these owners can only be interrupted as a consensus approval of Limbaugh and his hatred toward African -Americans in the country, and that is a far more serious matter than determining the next member of their elite club.
Limbaugh’s syndicated radio show has served as an infomercial for the Republican Party, which is financially supported by many NFL owners.
Is their self implied gag order a coincidence? I do not think so. It goes hand in hand with a “business as usual” approach within the strategically structured billionaires club, one that has profited greatly, in my opinion, due to their support of the Republican Party during times when many hard working Americans who can not afford the average ticket price at an NFL game continue to struggle to make ends meet.
I will admit, I have been tough on Irsay in the past, especially during his highly publicized bout with prescription pain drugs when he was given special treatment by both local and federal authorities pertaining to the illegality of the situation. I would probably still be behind bars if that had happened to me, and Irsay never even made a court appearance.
I was also openly critical of Irsay during the negotiations for the new stadium which I felt at the time (and still do) we did not need as bad as enhancements to public education and our infrastructure.
Despite what was a high level of disdain for him at the time over those matters, I salute this man for stepping up to the big spotlight and microphone known as the NFL and drawing the line in the sand as it pertains to Limbaugh and his fellow country club radio show listeners, especially those who feel Sir Rush has said or done nothing wrong.
I had you pegged wrong Mr. Irsay, as I thought you were just another billionaire who could care less about people and more about what they could do for your bottom line.
I apologize to you and your family as you obviously are a much better man than I ever gave you credit for. Now it is time for all of your fellow owners to get on board with you and make it clear that people like Limbaugh do not belong in our society, let alone the NFL. Hopefully they will stand tall with you.
Danny Bridges can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.