Limbaugh resigns from NFL show
October 2, 2003
In the wake of his controversial statements regarding Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his position on ESPN's NFL pregame show. ESPN has accepted the resignation.
Limbaugh issued a statement late Wednesday night in which he wrote:
"My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. 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, 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 on ESPN when Limbaugh 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 immediate. 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, a conservative talk-show host. Others in the political and athletic circles also lashed out at Limbaugh's comments.
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 go 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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.