Rush Limbaugh Was Right
Number One Hundred and Thirty-Five by
Brian S. Wise
3 October 2003
Rush Limbaugh wasn't right from a conservative standpoint, but from a statistical one.
Read the full transcript of what
was actually said here.
Transcribed by Brian S. Wise.
conservatism at large is up in arms when you start receiving
random press releases from organizations you’ve never
heard from before. From the National Center for Public Policy
Research: “ESPN Especially Hypocritical in Accepting Limbaugh’s
Resignation While Its Website Raises the Same Issue Limbaugh
Did.” The Center is referring to the fact ESPN Sports
president George Bodenheimer called Rush Limbaugh’s resignation
“the appropriate action to resolve the matter expeditiously”
while asking in a poll question whether McNabb was overrated
because of his race. The answer is, No. Donovan McNabb was overrated
due in equal parts to his stellar college career at Syracuse
and the general uselessness of the Philadelphia Eagles at the
time they drafted McNabb in 1999, not because he was black.
getting too far ahead. In the first place, what did Limbaugh
actually say that got him into this mess? Last Sunday on ESPN’s
NFL Countdown: “I’ve listened to all you guys, actually,
and I think the sum total of what you’re all saying is,
Donovan McNabb is regressing, he’s going backwards. And
my, I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s
been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had
here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media
has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well …
for instance, black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.
I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got
a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really
didn’t deserve … the defense carried this team,
I think, and he got credit for it.” What about it?
was right. Not as a matter of common conservative opinion, but
statistically. In addressing the comments of the Countdown crew
(Chris Berman, Steve Young, Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson),
yes, McNabb is regressing. His stats so far this year compared
to the average NFL quarterback: 506 total passing yards versus
the 688 average; no touchdowns to the average 4; 141.7 yards
per game versus the 190 average; 49.5 percentage of completed
passes versus the average 59.4; a 51.1 quarterback rating versus
the 79.4 average. Granted, the Eagles have played only three
games in four weeks with 13 regular season games remaining,
but as to the question of whether McNabb is regressing as of
Friday, October third, the answer is yes.
offensive question, Slate.com’s Allen Barra made some
pivotal points in a column dated October second, comparing McNabb
– often referred to as one of the best quarterbacks in
the NFL – to Brad Johnson, quarterback of the Super Bowl
champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I don’t know anyone
who would call Brad Johnson … much more than mediocre.
Yet, Johnson’s NFL career passer rating, as of last Sunday,
is 7.3 points higher than McNabb’s (84.8 to 77.5), he
has completed his passes at a higher rate (61.8 percent to 56.4
percent), and has averaged significantly more yards per pass
(6.84 to 5.91). McNabb excels in just one area, running, where
he gained 2,040 yards and scored 14 touchdowns to Johnson’s
467 and seven. But McNabb has also been sacked more frequently
than Johnson – more than once, on average, per game, which
negates much of the rushing advantage.” Barra is saying
that McNabb gets much more attention because he’s the
prototypical vision of a modern quarterback – one who
rushes much more effectively than even quarterbacks drafted
just a few years before – and he’s right.
the defensive question – that the Eagles defense deserves
more credit for two consecutive NFC championship game appearances
than anyone is saying – Limbaugh is also statistically
correct. In the four years McNabb has owned the starting quarterback
job (excluding the last six weeks of the 2002 regular season,
when he had a broken leg), the Philadelphia defense has never
ranked lower than 10th in yards allowed, even starting this
season ranked fifth, despite being below the NFL average in
interceptions, fumble recoveries, yards against, tackles, sacks
and points against.
the racial question, I’ll defer again to Allen Barra,
who covers sports for a living: “To pretend that many
of us [in the media] didn't want McNabb to be the best quarterback
in the NFL because he's black is absurd. To say that we shouldn't
root for a quarterback to win because he's black is every bit
as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn't have rooted for Jackie
Robinson to succeed because he was black.”
Brian Wise is the lead columnist for
Rush Limbaugh: I’ve listened
to all you guys, actually, and I think the sum total of what
you’re all saying is, Donovan McNabb is regressing, he’s
going backwards. And my, I’m sorry to say this, I don’t
think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what
we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL.
I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback
do well …
Tom Jackson: Mm-hmm
Limbaugh: … for instance,
black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there
is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit
for the performance of this team that he really didn’t
deserve … [crosstalk] the defense carried this team, I
think, and he got credit for it.
Jackson: But Rush, somebody went
to those [NFC] championship games …
Limbaugh: Oh, they went …
Jackson: … somebody went
to those Pro Bowls, somebody made those plays that I saw, running
down the field, doing it with his legs, doing it with his arm.
He had been a very effective quarterback for this football team
over the last two or three years [crosstalk], different than
what we see right -- and they didn’t have any talent then
than they have now.
Limbaugh: On defense, on defense
they did. [crosstalk]
Jackson: Well, on defense they
did, but I’m talking about the offensive side of the ball.
Limbaugh: But that’s what
I’m saying: I think he got a lot of credit for the defensive
side of the ball winning games for this team.
Steve Young: But I’ll tell
you what, I’ll say it even more strongly, Tom: When they’re
[the Philadelphia Eagles] winning, nobody makes more plays …
Jackson: Than Donovan McNabb.
Young: … with his feet and
with his arm than Donovan McNabb. That guy is really one of
the best in the league at making plays. But making plays does
not win championships. Running the offense does, so at some
point I think that if Coy Detmer looks like a better option
[crosstalk] because he’ll go in there, drop back and throw
the ball correctly.
Chris Berman: Isn’t it odd
that last year, with the broken leg, I know it was Arizona,
but that one game he was in the [pocket] he looked great. [crosstalk]
Young: He had to run that offense.
Jackson: So Rush, once you make
that investment, though, once you make that investment in him,
that’s a done deal.
Limbaugh: I’m saying it’s
a good investment, don’t misunderstand, I just don’t
think he’s as good as everyone said he has been …
Michael Irvin: Rush has a point
… Rush has a point.