Hey, I’m proud to announce I’m a charter member of Rush Limbaugh’s liberal “Drive-By Media.” Do I get a membership card or something?
In a column published Tuesday, I argued the NFL should investigate whether Carolina Panthers players provoked Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants by hurling homophobic insults at him and threatening him with a bat.
After baiting and instigating Beckham, Panthers cornerback Josh Norman tried to be cute after the game by referring to the Giants star as a “prancing,” dancing “ballerina” and “Michael Jackson” wanna-be. His insinuation: Beckham’s an effeminate pretty-boy, if not a gay man, who doesn’t belong on an NFL field with the real men.
And don’t get me started on the Panthers bat-wielding practice squad player Marcus Ball, who confronted Beckham during pre-game warm-ups. Beckham tried to shake his hand — but Ball refused, according to ESPN. Ball, who was dressed in street clothes, violated NFL rules by crossing the 50-yard line to get into Beckham’s face. Combined with the homophobic rhetoric, an agitated Beckham played out-of-control, resulting in three penalties and the helmet-to-helmet cheap shot against Norman that earned him a well-deserved one-game suspension.
Veteran NFL insider Gary Myers reported (via Beckham’s friend Michael Irvin) that Beckham may have finally snapped after hearing anti-gay slurs from opponents all season.
“He deals with it a lot. For some reason, everybody goes after him with gay slurs. He’s a different kind of dude,” Irvin said. “He has the hairdo out, he’s not the big muscular kind of dude. The ladies all love him. He’s a star. I wonder why people are going in that direction. It blows my mind. I told him he can’t let stuff that people say get to you.”
Enter Limbaugh and his big mouth. The talk radio host denounced “metrosexual” sports “Drive-Bys” (like me) who, he predicted, will be the death of manliness in America. He also said the color of the “black” bat toted by the Panthers was somehow relevant — although he never said how or why
The NFL, said Limbaugh, is “one of the last refuges of manliness out there. It’s one of the reasons the game’s so damn popular. There is nothing metrosexual about it. There’s nothing politically correct about it, although there’s pressure being brought to make the game PC. But, yeah, they’re all, ‘Oh, he called him names. The league really better look into that. That’s something we can’t tolerate. There needs to be an investigation.’ I tell you, these people are gonna be the death of backbone. They’re gonna (be) the death of strength. They’re gonna be the death of toughness. These metrosexual left-wing guys.”
Unfortunately Rush, you’re talking through both sides of your mouth about my favorite sport: football.
After Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, you were the Get-Off-My-Lawn sports traditionalist bemoaning players such as Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin celebrating TD’s penalties by grabbing their crotch or pretending to take a crap on the football. As well as baseball players who don’t hustle on ground balls. Where were the coaches who should be benching players for selfish actions, you wanted to know. “What happened to discipline in sports?” you asked.
So which is it Rush? Do you want NFL players to act like professionals who comport themselves with dignity despite playing a violent sport? Or Mafia gangsters? I thought this was supposed to be a game, not a gang war.
Remember, Beckham’s meltdown came only a week after the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers skirmished during pre-game warm-ups. The reason? Steelers linebacker Vince Williams posted a death threat to Vontaze Burfict on Twitter. So where does it end? When one player shoots another?
In the video here, you can see a bat-wielding Ball cross to the Giants side to exchange words with Beckham. The star wideout takes off his helmet — and fires back.
Second, what’s so tough about the Panthers allegedly mocking Beckham’s sexuality? Does that pass for good old-fashioned trash talk these days? Yes, gamesmanship and trash talking are part of sports. Great players from Michael Jordan to Larry Bird have also been great trash talkers.
But even notorious agitators say a player’s personal life should be out of bounds. Sean Avery was the king of the “sh-t disturbers’ in the NHL. But he told Rolling Stone he never mocked an opposing player’s race or sexuality, even though he was called a “f-ggot” by an opponent for supporting gay rights.
By calling sportswriters “metrosexuals,” you’re trying to do the same thing Norman did by calling Beckham a “ballerina.” Insult people who disagree with your opinion. I’ll take it as a compliment from a guy who’s only tough behind the microphone.
I might be the last one who believes this. But aren’t NFL players supposed to set an example for the kids who idolize them? What happened to playing the game with class? That’s one of the qualities that’s supposed to distinguish the pros from the bush leaguers, right?
We’re also at a time when schools are trying to stop bullying. But that’s what the Panthers were trying to do to Beckham with their taunting, bats and ballerina talk, according to Dr. Norman Wyloge, who’s treated pro athletes and celebrities. “It was intimidation by bullying.” The goal was to get him off-balance, get him off his game. And it worked, as Beckham dropped a sure TD and didn’t have a catch in the first half.
Stay in your own lane Rush. You’re making the same mistake that led to your departure from ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown in 2003. You’re trying to force-feed some political “narrative” on top of a story that’s more about the fading ideals of sportsmanship and fair play.
As I wrote on Tuesday, Beckham was out of control and deserved to be suspended. But it turns out the Panthers were not innocent either. I call BS on other players in this story, including the league.
Let’s see, the NFL can spend millions on Ted Wells’ DeflateGate investigation of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But they can’t investigate whether Norman, Ball, Cortland Finnegan or other Panthers slung anti-gay slurs at Beckham on Sunday?
Hell, there were TV cameras and microphones all over the field. My guess is NFL doesn’t want any more bad publicity with the movie “Concussion” hitting theaters. So don’t hold your breath waiting for revealing audio to come out.
To make matters worse, the Giants invited the “You Can Play Project” supporting gay student-athletes on the field before Sunday’s Panthers game. Suppose those kids were standing around when the Panthers were supposedly mocking Beckham’s sexuality Rush? But hey, it’s just trash talk, right?
No, the league and its TV partners would rather focus on the 14-0 Panthers bid for perfection — and sweep the rest of it under the rug. No wonder Bryant Gumbel of HBO Sports told me the “two worst words of the modern landscape are ‘Broadcast Partner.’”
So Rush, you can carry the NFL’s water if you want to. You’re a bully and a blowhard so you’ll fit right in wit the other sycophants.
But consider yourself slapped upside the head by this “metrosexual” sportswriter. What are you going to do about it?