NFL notebook

Colts’ Irsay won’t support Limbaugh’s bid

Wants to buy Rams
By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / October 14, 2009

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NFL ownership is a pretty exclusive club, and at least one member of that club, which is holding its fall meeting at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, doesn’t want right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh to join.

Limbaugh announced last Tuesday that he is part of a bid with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts to buy the St. Louis Rams, but Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, whose club employed the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl, Tony Dungy, and currently has another African-American coach, Jim Caldwell, said he would not be in favor of approving an ownership group that included Limbaugh.

That made Irsay the first NFL owner to go on the record against Limbaugh, who has a checkered history with the league from his brief stint as an ESPN analyst in 2003. Limbaugh was forced to resign after saying that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb received favorable treatment from the media because they wanted an African-American quarterback to succeed.

“There are certain privileges for certain things in life that you might want to pursue that may not be appropriate,’’ said Irsay. “I myself couldn’t be in favor of voting for him.’’

A prospective ownership group needs the approval of two-thirds of the league’s 32 clubs. Irsay said he hadn’t talked to any other owners with similar views, but seemed to have his mind made up.

“I don’t think I would even go to the point of talking to Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, Dwight Freeney, to get some counsel from those men that I respect and see what their positions are,’’ said Irsay. “I’m very sensitive to know that there are scars out there. I think as a nation we have to stop it. Our words do damage, and it’s something that we don’t need. We need to get to a higher level of humanity, and we have.

“Again, I come from a different era and I look at the artists - what John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, and those guys were singing about it. We’ve been doing a slow crawl to some of the things that they talked about, but like I said we don’t need to go the other way.

“We can’t go the other way where there isn’t forgiveness, understanding, those sorts of things, but we’ve got to watch our words in this world and our thoughts because they can do damage.’’

Patriots owner Robert Kraft declined to comment when asked about Limbaugh. “I’ll let the commissioner speak on that issue,’’ said Kraft. “I’m not going to speak to that.’’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it was premature to speculate on anyone involved with an ownership group and that the Rams still had to go through the process of deciding whether to sell. However, he made it clear that Limbaugh’s past comments didn’t sit well with him.

“The comments that Rush made, specifically about Donovan, I disagree with very strongly,’’ said Goodell. “I don’t obviously believe that those comments are appropriate, and they’re divisive.

“We’re all held to a high standard here and I think divisive comments are not what we’re all about, so I would not want to see those comments from people who are in responsible positions in the NFL. No, absolutely, not.’’

Steelers’ Smith hurt
Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith has a right shoulder injury that coach Mike Tomlin said “could be significant.’’ Smith was injured Sunday and the team is not certain how long one of its most reliable and productive players will be out, although it apparently is anticipating an extended absence. Smith’s agent, Peter Schaffer, said he is awaiting a doctor’s report . . . Bills safety Donte Whitner, who has missed two weeks since he tore ligaments in his thumb in a loss to New Orleans, said he’s “pretty close’’ to returning, good news for a banged-up defense that lost two more players - starting linebacker Kawika Mitchell and backup Marcus Buggs - to season-ending knee injuries last week . . . Dolphins running back Patrick Cobbs will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, coach Tony Sparano said. Cobbs, a one-time Patriot, was hurt on a carry in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 31-27 victory over the Jets. Cobbs was a mainstay in the wildcat offense and led the Dolphins this season with 16 kickoff returns for a 22.6-yard average . . . The Seahawks placed left tackle Brandon Frye on injured reserve after he suffered a neck injury in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville. Frye, claimed off waivers from Miami before the season, was Seattle’s plan C at left tackle behind Walter Jones and Sean Locklear, who are both out with injuries . . . The Buccaneers signed receiver Yamon Figurs and released linebacker Matt McCoy. Figurs was waived by the Lions Sept. 10 . . . The Ravens signed receiver David Tyree, who played in 73 games with the Giants before being cut last month. Tyree made one of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history in 2008 against the Patriots, pulling down a 32-yard pass on third and 5 by trapping the ball against his helmet, keeping alive a drive that resulted in the winning TD.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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