NEW YORK (Reuters) - Controversial conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been dropped from a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams after several black NFL players objected and the league commissioner weighed in against Limbaugh’s “divisive comments.”
“It has become clear that his (Limbaugh’s) involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions,” said SPC Worldwide Chairman Dave Checketts, who is leading the bid to buy the National Football League team and keep it in St. Louis.
“We have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion,” Checketts said in an emailed statement.
Several black NFL players have told newspaper reporters they would never play for a team owned by Limbaugh because of remarks they found racially objectionable, including his comment that the media wanted Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to succeed because he is black.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on Tuesday said he could not consider voting to approve Limbaugh as an owner because of comments that were “inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive,” according to an Associated Press report posted on the NFL’s website.
According to the report, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the NFL Fall League Meeting: “I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about. I would not want to see those kind of comments from people who are in a responsible position within the NFL.”
Checketts’ group is bidding for the Rams as part of a sale being conducted by Goldman Sachs. While the process limits Checketts on what he can say, he obtained special permission to clarify the investor group’s intentions, he said.
A spokeswoman for Limbaugh could not immediately be reached for comment.
Checketts, who owns the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, wants to keep the Rams based in St. Louis, and to bolster these efforts, his group had invited Missourians to join them, leading to Limbaugh getting involved.
Limbaugh was to have had a limited partnership role, said Checketts, and little day-to-day involvement.
A native of Missouri, Limbaugh is one of the most highly paid figures in broadcast media and an ardent football fan who came close to landing a spot as a commentator on “Monday Night Football” on ABC in 2000.
Three years later, Limbaugh, who played football in high school, joined ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.”
After a month on the show, he resigned amid controversy over his remarks about McNabb.
Limbaugh was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and later worked for the Kansas City Royals baseball team.
Forbes magazine recently valued the Rams at $913 million, ranking them 25th out of 32 NFL teams.
Reporting by Lilla Zuill; Editing by Gary Hill