Rush Limbaugh's Controversial NFL Comments

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, October 2, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST AND FNC SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: More on Rush Limbaugh (search)… about what Rush said on ESPN about the media wanting to promote a black quarterback? Never mind whether it was smart or not to say that. Was he right?

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and FOX Sports NBA insider Stephen A. Smith (search) joins me now from Philadelphia. And today's big question, Steve, is there reverse racism in sports and in sports reporting?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER/FOX SPORTS: No, I don't think so. Certainly when you take into account what Rush Limbaugh had to say, I mean, when you look at today's media, he implied that basically Donovan McNabb (search) was receiving special treatment and being propped up to be better than what he was in order to push the black quarterback agenda, so to speak. I'm just paraphrasing.


SMITH: But certainly, I don't think there's any truth in that assertion whatsoever. And I'll repeat myself, because I said it to numerous people on numerous occasions over the past 48 hours. I think Rush was talking back to a time where that was exactly the case, where sports writers were sitting out there and they weren't necessarily promoting a black quarterback, they were doing the exact opposite. They were not promoting enough of these black athletes. What they were telling was that the black players were athletic. They were athletically gifted, but they weren't intellectual. They weren't smart enough to be a quarterback. They weren't smart enough to be a middle linebacker.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Steve, is there racism in the National Football League or do ...

SMITH: Oh, no question.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: ... or do they accept each other as what they are, gifted athletics irrespective of their color.

SMITH: I think when you look at the paucity of African-American coaches in the NFL, clearly there's racism going on in the NFL. But I'm not willing to go out on a limb and say for certain that there's racism in terms of the media with the black athlete. It certainly appears to be that way at times.

Again, as an African-American, we need to be extremely careful about labeling people racist every single day, because the fact is there's some real legitimate bona fide racists out there. And when you sit there and when you sit around and call just anybody a racist, the real ones that really feel that way are the ones that end up getting away with it because they've got too many people locked into a group with them.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Is Rush Limbaugh a racist?

SMITH: I don't know the man. I don't believe so. But I don't know the man. I don't listen to his radio show. I never watched him before. I mean, I just saw him on NFL Sunday's countdown a few weeks ago. I never watched him. I never listened to him. I knew he was a right-wing conservative. You know what? I didn't agree with most of his views so I didn't listen.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: As a long-suffering New York Giants fan, I can tell you McNabb is a great quarterback regardless of what anybody says about him.

SMITH: All right.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Thanks for joining us Steve, we appreciate it.

SMITH: Take care.

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