While Rush Limbaugh’s NFL television commentating job came to an end after saying the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback was overrated by the media, several other football analysts are on record with that assessment.

The commentators, all writing in mid-September, at least two weeks before Limbaugh’s controversial remarks, include a representative of the premier sports magazine, Sports Illustrated, and CBS SportsLine.com.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (Photo: Baltimore Sun)

Steve Prisco, of CBS SportsLine.com, wrote Sept. 18, for example, that McNabb is a “good player,” he’s just not a “great one.”

“And that’s why he earns the Most Overrated Player Award,” Prisco said, referring to the writer’s self-constructed prize.

Limbaugh has insisted there was “no racist intent whatsoever” in his comment earlier this week on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” show that the media have overrated the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb because they want to see a black quarterback succeed.

“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 on the show. “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.”

After a growing media furor, Limbaugh resigned from his ESPN position Wednesday.

But Prisco, alluding to the fact many are criticizing McNabb, wrote, “Ripping on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb now is like being that last kid to take a shot during a fight after one of your friends has already put the other guy on the ground.”

“That’s piling on, too easy and not entirely fair,” he wrote.

The confluence of similar commentaries on McNabb was noted yesterday by the news website Orbusmax.com.

In a Sept. 16 column, Sports Illustrated online columnist Don Banks posed the question, “What distinction does Donovan McNabb deserve these days?”

The columnist’s answer: “Would you believe the league’s most overrated player label?”

Banks said that assessment might be “a little harsh for a two-week slump” but “it’s also an indication of how lost the fifth-year Philadelphia quarterback has been this season.”

The Sports Illustrated writer said, “The truth is, there have always been a few Sundays each season when McNabb looked downright ordinary. When his passes didn’t go where he wanted them to go, his ability to work outside the pocket didn’t save the day, and his star power looked a bit overstated.”

Also on Sept. 16, Matt Miloszewski, a columnist for The Pitt News, the student paper of the University of Pittsburgh, said he’s “sick of … Philly fans talking up an overrated Donovan McNabb.”

Chuck Delsman wrote Sept. 12 for the Lane Country Reporter in Wisconsin, “Speaking of McNabb, just how overrated is this guy? What has he ever really done?”

Responding to Limbaugh’s comments, Slate magazine published a column by sportswriter Allen Barra yesterday titled, “Rush Limbaugh Was Right: Donovan McNabb isn’t a great quarterback, and the media do overrate him because he is black.”

Barra wrote, “Rush Limbaugh didn’t say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn’t say anything that he shouldn’t have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now.”

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie accused ESPN of “institutional racism” for its decision to hire Limbaugh.

In an effort to grab ratings, Lurie said, ESPN has tarnished its once respected image in the NFL, according to the Associated Press.

The Philadelphia owner said bringing on Limbaugh was just one example of “racist potshots” toward the league, the news wire reported.

“Some of the events of this week are built with institutional racism,” Lurie said, according to the AP. “It exists. Let’s not hide it. Let’s not make us believe the problem is a single person. It’s far from that.”

In his keynote address yesterday at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Philadelphia, Limbaugh said his comments were not a “racial opinion,” but rather a “media opinion.”

“We live in a country where, supposedly, by right of the First Amendment you offer opinions, but you can’t in certain places and certain times,” Limbaugh said.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Rodney Peete, who also is black, said, according to the AP, “You can have your opinion, but there are certain things that are sensitive that you have to adhere to and certain lines that you don’t cross.”

“And I think he definitely crossed that line with that particular comment,” Peete said.

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