July 15, 2003
ESPN hires Rush Limbaugh

What were they thinking?

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh will soon be calling some signals for ESPN's weekly football preview "Sunday NFL Countdown."

Starting in September, Limbaugh, 52, will join the show's line-up as the "voice of the fan," delivering an opinion piece near the top of the two-hour telecast each week, the Walt Disney Co.-owned sports network said on Monday.

He also will weigh in periodically during each show with a "Rush challenge," offering a counterpoint to commentary from the program's three regular analysts -- former NFL players Steve Young, Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson.

Well, I guess that Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football thing was such a big success, they wanted to replicate it. King Kaufman has the right take on it: if appealing to nonfans is such a good idea, why not have Adam Carolla do commentary on figure skating? Better find a nonfan to replace me, guys - I won't be tuning in.

UPDATE: Eric McErlain thinks this may have been a shrewd move by ESPN. He may be right, but I'd bet that the curiosity factor gives a ratings spike in the first week or two, followed by a return to roughly normal, perhaps a bit more and perhaps a bit less. Won't matter to me, though - I won't be watching.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 15, 2003 to Other sports | TrackBack

Let's face it, ESPN's NFL Countdown does not draw anywhere near the ratings that the CBS and FOX preview shows get. Perhaps ESPN is looking for the "Jimmy Kimmel" factor, where they get someone from "outside" to talk football with the crew.

I'd still rather watch Jimmy and Terry go at it every week than watch Rush and the Three Stooges.

Posted by: William Hughes on July 15, 2003 3:15 PM

Limbaugh did some sports work on radio early in his career. Grunt work, if I recall correctly, but still. Can't say that I would have hired him, but then again, can't say I would have hired Dennis Miller for MNF either. *shrug*

Posted by: Kevin Whited on July 15, 2003 6:33 PM

I cannot believe that ESPN would ever make so poor a decision as to hire such a blatantly contentious and partisan character as Rush Limbaugh. The problem isn't so much that Rush Limbaugh is such an opinionated loudmouth, who has made his millions bashing honest men and women and grossly misrepresenting the liberal position on every issue. It is simply that he is a partisan, and a political extremist. What's next, will ESPN endorse the Republican party?

I can't say how much this disappoints and angers me. If ESPN ever does feature Rush Limbaugh on their channel, then I will NEVER again watch their programs. If I am at a friend's house, and they have on ESPN, I will ask them to turn it off, or leave the house. Furthermore, I will encourage my friends, many of whom like me find Rush Limbaugh distasteful, to likewise bouycott your station.

Don't do it.

Posted by: Ken Larsen on July 24, 2003 3:39 AM

I am pleased that the ESPN crew can overcome their political ties to welcome Rush to their commentary. We will see if he is worthy of the position. I will watch ESPN from now on for football to see that he adequately operates this position. I will not "bouycott" (thanks Ken) ESPN, nor will I allow my friends to neglect this open-minded station,

Posted by: Adam on July 26, 2003 6:11 AM

I'd like to give kudos to ESPN. They have hired an exceptional personality. Slightly to the left of Howard Cosell and to the right of Attilla the Hun. He will make an excellent addition and mark my word, he'll be making an appearance on MNF before seasons end and well next year.....we will just see!

Mr. Smith

P.S. If Ken Larsen, does not like Rush on ESPN, then maybe he can watch WNBA and they may have something more to his style!!!!!

Posted by: Mr. Smith on July 28, 2003 9:46 PM

Thank God for Rush Limbaugh. His irreverant humor and commentary is just the sort of jolt that ESPN needs to contend with the other pregame shows. What a stroke of genius!! Notice her that only those that are self-described liberals are against him being hired. They can't even spell boycott correctly ---it is "boycott" not "buoycott" Ken

Posted by: Joe Aguglia on August 6, 2003 6:24 PM

The question should be is Rush Limbaugh too big for ESPN? 20 million people listen to his radio show everyday, he is broadcasted around the world and has held his position at the top of the broadcast ratings for 13 years. If Rush Limbaugh wasn't political (or was a liberal) he would be praised as a national icon and an American legend.
The truth is Rush Limbaugh is too big for NFL Countdown and maybe ESPN period.

Posted by: James Mezick on August 9, 2003 3:47 PM

I think it's great that Rush will be on ESPN. I never have watched a pregame show but, I will be watching this one. At times, people will call in and discuss football with him and he seems very insightful, interesting, and makes football even more entertaining. I am looking forward to it.

Posted by: Tami Faour on August 22, 2003 5:46 PM

I immediately discounted it as one big laughing joke at first. When it dawned on me that this was a serious deal, I was slightly dazed and somewhat confused. Imagine getting smacked in the face with a brick - that's sort of what it felt like. Why would they bring that contentious iconoclastic reactionary to ESPN? I guess bringing back that half-wit dolt Jim Rome wasn't enough. ESPN is losing a few counts of credibility.

Sports & Politics, Politics & sports, hmmm...(((sarcasm))) why didn't I see the connection before??

All joking aside, I do not believe for one second ESPN sought or received the likes of Rush because he simply was looking for another line of work and applied for the position. He is seen throughout this nation as a partisan political mudslinger and this is just a stunt for ratings simply because his representation of controversial rhetoric is radical enough to boost ratings. I wonder how many Democrat digs we will get out of this fascist bonehead's commentary?

Does anyone else feel the odd political timing of this opportunistic ruse?

Hey I know...Let's have Ann Coulter do MNF while we're at it!?!?!?!

Posted by: plunkett on August 22, 2003 7:06 PM

Rush and his fans are fags

Posted by: Screw You on August 29, 2003 9:05 PM

Hiring Rush was a great move. I'm certain that none of these mensa candidates that are "never going to watch ESPN again" have never listened to Rush. Limbaugh is a HUGE NFL fan and knows football. He's a true student of the game and passionate about it. Rush does things one way....all the way; and almost always right.

Posted by: Rick on August 29, 2003 9:59 PM

You'll see, just like Rush knows what makes America great, he knows his football, too. Sit back and enjoy. Lighten up libs and have some fun listening to some great fan commentary.

Posted by: Jim Karno on August 30, 2003 1:50 AM

I am a bit skeptical of Rush on ESPN. I know he is a big football fan (Pittsburgh Steelers) but he also did very poorly when he had his own TV show. There is no doubt he is polarizing. Many people will either hate what he says or agree, just like the radio show. I doubt he will bring politics into the show. I can't see that happening because Rush is a professional. I will watch and time will tell.

Go Pats

P.S. Rush hates the Patriots because they whooped his Sqeelers in the 2001 AFC Championship game and later won the Super Bowl.

Posted by: Pats Fan on September 2, 2003 7:52 AM

I will be watching the espn pregame for the first time ever, not because of Rush's politics but for his honesty. Unlike all other talking heads he will have a favorite team and will tell us what he really thinks. Pats Fan, the networks would only let his tv show on after latenight talk shows. The markets that put it on after the evening new as it was designed had viewership that topped Pat's games.

Posted by: Jason Lukehart on September 4, 2003 11:44 AM

Good grief guys relax. We've had liberal and democratic people in sports for years and WHO CARES! when it comes to sports does a persons political leaning really matter? I really don't see how unless these players decide to start marrying each other. They are too rich for Government hand outs so what has you guys all worked up anyway? If he's no good then the ratings will show that, and he will be gone. Relax and enjoy, the guy has 20 million listeners for a reason. He's fun

Posted by: Relax on September 7, 2003 7:54 PM

You can be certain that ESPN and Rush have discussed his career as man of the people (20 Million - It's true, ask anyone!) They probably have all sorts of gags and stunts planned to jazz up the ratings. I have a few great ideas. (If anyone at ESPN reads this, feel free to use any or all of these ideas.) Rush really needs a tag phrase to appeal to the hip, younger viewer. It would be a laugh riot if Rush used his famous "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back" comment as he did to an African-American caller on his radio show a few years back. He could use it whenever an African-American disagrees with him on the show. He could hold up his hand as if to say "call me back". Hysterical! Maybe Rush could even sponsor and hand out a yearly "Nose Bone" trophy to the most right-wing African-American NFL athlete. Whenever the military honor guard presents the flag Rush could start bashing real war heroes like John Kerry, John F. Kennedy and Max Cleland while the "Star Spangled Banner" is being played in the background. He can also use any military reference to regale the audience with tales of his epic battle with an evil anal cyst that kept him from having to serve in Vietnam and miss all that fun. If things start dragging on the show, Rush can pick any one of a dozen races, cultures or beliefs to kick around for a laugh or two. I think the NFL should wake up and smell the coffee! This is the wave of the future. The NFL should force the less than totally obedient right-wing players to wear a big yellow "L" on their uniforms so Rush will be able to select people by name when deciding their desirability as Americans. ESPN could do it right now if they use that yellow overlay like they do with the first down lines. I mean let's face it, there are alot of "undesirables" running around out there with regular white guy names like Johnson and Smith. Are you ready for some Fooootball! WooHoo!

Posted by: Vinnie on September 13, 2003 12:54 AM

The hiring of Rush Limbaugh really has me troubled. The presence of such a partisan figure in football on a major sports network really underscores the enormous divide between the NFL and its fans. Already Rush is yapping about how forcing teams to interview African American coaches will lead to ďtokenĒ interviewees. Donít believe his lies. This is just a smokescreen to get the NFL to reverse its only progressive hiring policy. African American coaches truly need our help! I think NFL owners are partial to white coaches because they are all rich, which means they are dumb, bigoted, tax-dodging republicans! Besides, itís just not fair! This is an important first step in ensuring that there is equal opportunity and diversity in the NFL. I hope that soon similar policies will be in place to ensure we have representative numbers of female and homosexual head coaches as well. Of couse, right wing idiots will probably make sure this never happens. Only with this type of diversity can the NFL keep from alienating a huge portion of their audience. Too bad conservatives are too dumb to know whatís good for them.

Posted by: John Lewin on September 15, 2003 12:05 PM

Folks, it's not whether Rush is right or wrong. Hell, most athletes are Republicans; that's not the point. It is his trashing of any and everyone who disagrees (and yes, I do listen, though I find it vile). Protesting Rush is not "politicizing sports"; he has made himself famous by polarizing American society. He brings that taint to everything he touches. A sad day for the sports fan.

Posted by: John on September 15, 2003 4:37 PM

So some folks won't watch Rush on ESPN because they don't like him. I doubt if these Rush haters actually ever listen to his radio program. And they are quick to judge him on ESPN without having seen him. So petty, so whiney, so typically intollerant Liberal.

They would have an orgasm if Bill Clinton was on. You libs just cannot control your envy of a self-made millionaire; and he did it without government handouts. Oh, the humanity!


Posted by: Mark on September 29, 2003 7:36 PM

I actually think Rush Limbaugh is quite funny. Each time I have listened to his show I have laughed myself to tears. He is a political shock jock and that is all that he is. The problem is that there are alot of people out there that take his ultra right wing evangelist comedy babble as truth. Please folks, lets keep our sports free from "any" political connection, right or left!

Posted by: Cal on October 1, 2003 8:16 AM

I have been listening to Rush Limbaugh for years. The reason I have been listening is because there are no other talk shows in this town any different. The radio stations that do have them are Rush clones; they are all right wing public lobbyists trying to persuade the people that their ideologies are what are best for the listeners. They believe anyone that does not think like them, are wrong and they should not be allowed to talk. ESPN should not bring politics or political figures into their shows. It kills the atmosphere we look for in sport shows. We do not want someone who has ridiculed people over the air just because we do not think or believe like him. You will ruin your show. I think you have underestimated the opinion of the sports fan that watches your ESPN shows for the sports and nothing else. Well, maybe the commercials...... sometimes.

Posted by: Dan on October 3, 2003 12:50 AM

Awwww, poor pill-popping, boil-butt, draft-dodger couldn't take the heat and had to resign.

Well, we knew he was a sissypants.

Gonna be hard to support that 100 pill a day habit, though, without that extra income.

Posted by: Al_Lien on October 3, 2003 4:43 AM

Poor Rush. It's not enough to be a hipocrate these days. You must also be a FAT one.

Life sucks, doesnt it, Rush? But look at it this way. At least you won't be embarrasing your face anymore on television.

Back to reality, boys.

Posted by: mike on November 21, 2003 4:32 AM