Did Limbaugh Get Burned?
Listening to Rush Limbaugh describe his involvement with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts' bid to buy the St. Louis Rams, it sounds like he (and maybe Checketts, too) got burned.
Last night it was announced that Limbaugh had been dropped from Checketts' bid group, following the barrage of criticism the talk-show host's participation had brought, after it became public last week. Criticism came from all segments of the NFL community--ownership, players, the NFL Players Association, Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the journalists and commentators that cover the league--making Limbaugh's involvement untenable from a business standpoint.
But Limbaugh said today that Checketts actually approached him in the first place, that he warned Checketts about the criticism that would descend on the bid group, and that Checketts actually assured him it had been "taken care of."
On his radio show today, Limbaugh, freed from the political and business constraints of the bid--including a confidentiality agreement with Goldman Sachs, which is reviewing the franchise's value--spoke out about how the whole deal went down.
The AP reports (no transcript available from Limbaugh's website yet) that Limbaugh says Checketts approached him initially, seeking the talk-show host's involvement.
"I said to him at this meeting, 'Are you aware of the firestorm?' He said 'We wouldn't have approached you if we hadn't taken care of that,'" Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh added that Checketts had told him his involvement had been cleared at the "highest levels of the NFL."
So according to Limbaugh's account, he had been assured that none of this would be a problem. Limbaugh insisted he's "lost nothing" through the ordeal, but, if that account is true, it sounds like Limbaugh was promised something he didn't get--and that all the criticism he's taken amounts to getting burned by Checketts' faulty information. (Whether Checketts really said those exact words to Rush, and, if so, why he was under the impression that things had been "taken care of" are separate questions I probably shouldn't get into here.)
So, in that spirit, when Checketts called Limbaugh Tuesday to ask him to withdraw from the bid, Limbaugh says, he refused, telling the Blues owner he would have to "go public and fire me."
Of course, the Checketts group got burned here, too, in the short term at least. Limbaugh ostensibly doesn't care what people say about him, and, while the Checketts group is now free of his political baggage, Checketts and his fellow investors were probably hurting a bit more than Limbaugh was over the past few days. After all, they ended up seeing Rush as a liability--not the other way around.
Neither the Blues front office nor Checketts' sports investment group, SCP Worldwide, have returned messages seeking to get in touch with Checketts for comment. I'll update this post if Checketts offers his side of the story--which could significantly alter any putative conclusions I'm drawing here.
The kicker: Limbaugh said the Checketts group had lost its lead investor before Checketts approached him about the deal...and he speculates that lead investor had been none other than George Soros.
UPDATE: A spokesman for SCP Worldwide said Checketts will not be commenting on Limbaugh's account, or his involvement in the bid, beyond the statement released yesterday that announced Limbaugh had been dropped from Checketts' bid group.