Tony Dungy, who is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts and who is black, and who some time ago expressed concern that there weren’t enough black coaches in the NFL, is not a militant guy. In fact, he’s a very devout man. He used to be a defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He’s really paid his dues. Head coach at Tampa Bay, was unceremoniously dumped there and ended up here at Indianapolis and is shepherding the career of Peyton Manning, and, you know, what I said yesterday was my first thought was Kobe Bryant when I saw this thing in the locker. I said, “Whoa, where is their sensitivity to this?” and Dungy had the same reaction, except he found it racially offensive, said that’s the first thing I thought of as an African-American.
Dungy said, “I think it’s stereotypical in looking at the players and on the heels of the Kobe Bryant incident. I think it’s very insensitive. I don’t think they would have had Bill Parcells or Andy Reid or one of the owners involved in a skit like that; they went to Terrell Owens,” and if you read between the lines here what Dungy believes is that Terrell Owens is a useful idiot right now because he’s such a hog for publicity that he’ll do anything, and so they make this proposition to him. “Yes, I’ll do that. That’s fine and dandy.” The Eagles claim they had no idea about the specifics of it. They just gave permission for this to be shot on Friday afternoon. Dungy said, “If that’s what we have to do to get ratings, I’d rather not get them. I realize that ratings pay us in this league, but if that’s what we have to do, I’m willing to take a pay cut.” That’s Tony Dungy, the coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
But Lovie Smith, also black, the coach of the Chicago Bears thought it was in bad taste, but he didn’t find it racially offensive. “I really can’t go that far. I saw a naked lady with an athlete, period. Black / white doesn’t matter an awful lot to me.” A lot of players said they thought it was cool, probably wished they would have been the ones chosen to do it. I guess… I’m 53, almost 54. I still love the game of football as much as I always have, and the effort to combine it with whatever the current pop culture is, be it the flavor of commercials with rock stars pouring beer down fans’ throats at the games and this sort of stuff, it doesn’t bother me. It’s the game broadcast. Just all of these flying gizmo graphics and so forth. ABC is not guilty of that. I mean, I guess most of that happens on Fox, but still. Mr. Snerdley asked me if this was a generation gap thing, and it may well be. Mr. Snerdley, I have to tell you, I’m sitting there asking myself, “We spent a year in this country going bonkers over my comments about the media regarding Donovan McNabb.”
Now, this thing has come up, and you’ve had one coach who thinks that there’s a racial overtone to this. But Snerdley asked me if there’s a gender gap, and there may well be, because the NFL, if you look at the Janet Jackson halftime show they did that with MTV. Everybody in this country wants to appeal to the 18-to 24-year-old demographic, and the reason for that, folks, is if you get ’em young you’ve got ’em hooked, be it on your beer, be it on your shaver, be it on your automobile brand, be it on your sport, and so if you can go out and do things, and that’s what this is all about. It’s basically appealing to 18 to 24-year-old men who more than likely are watching this stuff, fantasizing all day wishing that’s what their life was like: hence the beer, hence the naked girls, hence Terrell Owens. I’m sure that’s what this is. It’s just a push for lower demographics, which I understand. I mean, I’m in the broadcast business but there’s a little bit of a difference.
The 18- to 24-year-old group is a good group to get as they grow older but they’re not the big-money group. They’re not old enough to have earned a lot of money: 25-54, 35-64, that’s where the money is. Where do you think these kids get the money they’re going out and blowing on whatever? They steal it or get it in allowance or they inherit it or whatever from the old suckers in the main bedroom, mom and dad. But, no, for me it’s not a gender gap. It’s just a foot…I’m not a purest, either. I like some of the innovations of the game, but the intermingling of pop culture with it just is a full-fledged football fan to me is a distraction and I can’t help but think if this keeps up and gets worse they’re actually going to cause fewer and fewer people to want to watch the game if they have to put up with more and more of this. I could be wrong about that. So far the ratings don’t indicate that that is the case. We’ll just have to wait and see. Mary in Clifton Park, New York, I’m glad you called. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Thanks for having me. You know what? I think it was clearly a racist move. I think they wanted to pair a black man with a beautiful white woman and they were looking for a ratings boost and that was the first thing that came to me mind when I saw that. I was furious. My son was up here watching the game without me, and I was downstairs.
RUSH: How old is he?
CALLER: Twelve. Twelve years old. Now, I gotta sit there and I gotta explain this to him.
RUSH: Can I ask you a question?
RUSH: Seriously, now, because I’m not a parent. So you’re going to have to help me out here.
CALLER: I have three.
RUSH: How old are they?
CALLER: Twelve, nine and three.
RUSH: Let’s talk about your 12-year-old.
RUSH: How do you know that your 12-year-old has not seen somewhere when you’re not around what he saw Monday night?
CALLER: Well, I know where my child is all the time, that’s #1. Unless they’re showing things in school that they shouldn’t be showing, he doesn’t go to places where he’s not allowed to go. He doesn’t watch videos at friends’ houses that he hasn’t had approved.
RUSH: Okay, okay. Just asking.
CALLER: He has a pretty good background so he knows what’s accessible and what isn’t.
RUSH: All right, that’s good. Just asking.
CALLER: But, you know, I saw this, and it was the first thing that came to my mind and it’s no different than the Janet Jackson fiasco, which again my nine-year-old was sitting there for that one: Black girl, white man.
RUSH: Well, now, wait a minute —
CALLER: Now it’s the reverse.
RUSH: Whoa, whoa. If this were taking place back in the era of J. William Fulbright and George Wallace when the Democrats, you know, were true to their whistles and were opposing racial integration, that would be one thing, but that’s 30, 40 years ago. This is nothing new, a mixed couple.
CALLER: I still think that it’s excess, and I think that they’re promoting it, and it was a way to get ratings, and it was a way to inflame people. No matter what they show, they don’t care, just as long as they get to notch up the ratings. I don’t think I’ll watch Monday Night Football again.
RUSH: Oh, I’ll tell you what, I think this coming Monday night people are going to be glued into the open to see what the hell they’re going to do next.
CALLER: You know, they have an awful lot of — you know, and I’m tired of apologies, and I’m tired of these minuscule fines. They’re ridiculous. The point they got across was — they got it across, and if the NFL doesn’t want to take responsibility for what’s being broadcast —
RUSH: They do. Let me tell you something —
CALLER: — they need to do a little bit more.
RUSH: Wait a minute. Make no mistake about it: The NFL and a bunch of NFL players and coaches are not happy about this at all, and it’s interesting. The NFL just announced an extension of its television network with two networks, Fox and CBS, but the ABC deal is still going on. The ABC deal still has a year negotiating period to happen, and one of the things that was agreed to in the new deal with Fox and CBS was that ABC’s Monday Night Football late in the season would be able to pick its game so that they’re not stuck with loser games between teams that are out of the race late in the season, and those games are going to have to come from Fox and CBS. So here’s ABC pulling this stunt, right in the middle of their negotiations. The NFL is livid about this.
I mean, the NFL does want to go for the 18-24 demographic but there is a line that they don’t want crossed. The amazing thing is, after the Janet Jackson halftime show at the Super Bowl, you would think there would be a little bit more supervision of what’s going on here, especially in their prime-time telecast but nobody knew this was coming, except the people that participated in it and the film crew, and nobody talked about it. Nobody leaked it, and so it came as a total surprise. But don’t think the NFL is not unhappy about it. But the network? Yeah, I mean, Howard Cosell is dead. The glory days of ABC’s Monday Night Football were back then, and they’re doing what they can to spice it up. I don’t know that an open, this is what, a minute? This is not going to translate into ratings for a game, I’ll guarantee you the game was such a blowout last Monday night, that I haven’t seen the numbers, but there’s probably a high tuneout factor as the game went on because it was a blowout, the Eagles against the Cowboys, regardless what was open was. So I think it was just the entertainment division at ABC. What we saw in the open of Monday Night Football is not uncommon in the rest of prime time television, is it? It’s not uncommon at all. What happened in the open is all over prime-time TV, on all the networks. The difference here is that it’s football and your 12-year-old was watching, and another thing, this was on at six p.m. on the left coast. It airs live. They don’t DB so this is not something that aired at night. This is on at eight o’clock in the Central Time Zone, seven o’clock in Denver, and six o’clock out on the left coast. All of these things are factors as well.
RUSH: Richard in Boca Raton, Florida. Nice to have you on the program, sir.
CALLER: How are you doing, Rush?
RUSH: Good, thank you.
CALLER: I’m calling in reference to the previous caller, Mary. She was calling about the intro to the Monday Night Football.
CALLER: She had three children, eight to twelve?
CALLER: Yeah, as a parent I find the Monday Night Football very distasteful in the way that they did it but her focus is not on the same way I focused on it. She’s focusing on a white girl taking off her clothes into an African-American athlete, where it should just be an athlete, not a racist thing, not black or white. She should just take offense to her children saying that this is very inappropriate that they did this to an athlete, whether he’s African America or white, and her statement, if I’m the only one who picked up on it, I think is a very racist statement, but she’s singling out Terrell Owens because he’s an African-American athlete —
RUSH: See, now we’re doing a full circle because Tony Dungy the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, who is also black, thought it was racist or had racial overtones and roots to the Kobe Bryant situation. She thought it was, but you don’t and I’m getting a lot of e-mail from people, “Why are we getting so stuffed shirty about this anyway? It was just a 60-second opening to a football game and nothing happened. Come on! Get over it.”
CALLER: Yeah, but they should concentrate on just an athlete, not whether he’s black or white, and if you listened to what she was saying to you, she was offended for her children seeing it was a black male. She probably wouldn’t have called in if it was a white athlete.
RUSH: I disagree with that. I think she was upset at both things.
CALLER: I mean, as a parent I find it very disgraceful and distasteful but I’m not focusing on the way that she’s looking at it.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: Americans need to open their eyes and see that it’s not a black and white thing.
RUSH: Look it, mixed marriages and relationships are old news in America. It’s not a shocking thing anymore but apparently it is to some people. It was to her, but, at any rate, as I say reaction to this runs the gamut. Some people don’t understand what the hubbub is about. Other people think it’s outrageous, and some are in between. There is not a universal theme in the reaction to this that I’ve been able to find. But regardless, I don’t think that it’s something that is a major factor of the racial component to it. It is to some, but you gotta suspect a conspiracy, then, if you want to say racial overtones to this. You’ve gotta see that some people are trying to accomplish something with it, something subliminal, something hidden that’s not really stated and I don’t think that’s why ABC did this.
Look it, Terrell Owens is the biggest star in that game Monday night. Sorry Donovan McNabb, but Terrell Owens is the biggest star of the Philadelphia Eagles. This is an entertainment television show, Monday Night Football. It’s football. It’s in prime-time. They wanted to get two people and do a cross-promotion so they had their actress from this Desperate Housewives show and they had Terrell Owens and they got the two biggest stars of the night that they thought they could get and I think that’s what they were looking at. I don’t think there was any racial aspect to it in that sense. What I think there was, was a lack of perhaps sensitivity that we’re just on the heels of this Kobe Bryant business and people are still talking about that, and this was made to look somewhat similar in a lot of people’s minds. Maybe in a reversed way, who knows? But I appreciate the call out there.
Terrell Owens has apologized. Just saw this: “Terrell Owens apologized today to anybody offended by his role in a steamy segment with Nicollette Sheridan on the Monday Night Football open on Monday night. ‘I felt like it was clean. The organization felt like it was a clean skit, and I think it just really got taken out of context with a lot of people and I apologize for that,’ Owens said. ‘Personally I didn’t think it would have offended anybody, and if it did, I apologize.’ ABC and the Eagles also apologized this week with a statement saying they wish the segment hadn’t aired.”
Didn’t Owens just say the team thought it was clean, organization felt like it was a clean skit? The organization didn’t know what it was. I mean I find that hard to believe. The story the Eagles didn’t know what it was, somebody had to be in that locker room from the Eagles front office. It was taped on Friday of last week. I’ve been in the front office. You don’t just let the media come in there with a player. You’ve got a PR guy or somebody standing around. ABC, Eagles also apologized saying, they “wished the segment hadn’t aired.”
Owens had no idea the intro would create such a backlash. He said, “I thought it was a fun skit, and that was it. Anything I get involved with, I’m obviously a target. It happened. So there you have it. So Terrell Owens has apologized. Well, that’s it. Everybody apologizes everything here, and makes it good. No, Nicollette Sheridan hasn’t apologized. But, of course, see, why should she? She’s not the victim. She’s not the (Laughing.) Why should she on apologize? Why should Nicollette Sheridan apologize? If you look at this, she’s not the victim of this, she got what she wanted, at least in the skit.