Thursday, October 2, 2003
Limbaugh resigns from NFL show
ESPN.com news services
In the wake of his controversial statements regarding Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his position on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown pregame show.
ESPN has accepted the resignation.
"My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated," Limbaugh said in a statement issued late Wednesday night. "I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret.
"I love NFL Sunday Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it.
"Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen."
George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, issued the following response:
"We accept his resignation and regret the circumstances surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously."
The comments referenced by Limbaugh came during Sunday's pregame show when the conservative talk show host offered the opinion that McNabb wasn't as good as the media perceived him to be.
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do
well,'' Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Negative reaction did not come immediately. But on Tuesday, McNabb told the Philadelphia Daily News: "It's sad that you've got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal."
From there, the firestorm spread quickly. Democratic presidential candidates Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and Rev. Al Sharpton called for ESPN to fire Limbaugh. Others in both political and athletic circles also lashed out at Limbaugh's comments.
The National Association of Black Journalists also called for ESPN to "separate itself" from Limbaugh.
""ESPN's credibility as a journalism entity is at stake," NABJ president Herbert Lowe said in a news release. "It needs to send a clear signal that the subjects of race and equal opportunity are taken seriously at its news outlets."
McNabb also provided more reaction on Wednesday.
"It's somewhat shocking to hear that on national TV from him," McNabb said. "It's not something that I can sit here and say won't bother me."
Limbaugh turned down requests to appear on SportsCenter on Wednesday. But earlier in the day on his syndicated radio talk show, he refused to back down.
"All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh said. "If I wasn't right,
there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community."
Wednesday night, ESPN issued a statement that, in part, read, "We have communicated to Mr. Limbaugh that his comments were insensitive and inappropriate."
Limbaugh's resignation was officially announced just before midnight ET.
Limbaugh was scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Philadelphia on Thursday morning.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.