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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
ESPN pundit quits in race row
Rush Limbaugh
Limbaugh had boosted Sunday Countdown's ratings
Outspoken right-wing US commentator Rush Limbaugh has resigned from the cable TV sports network ESPN, after being accused of making racist remarks during a live show.

Mr Limbaugh sparked the outrage earlier this week after saying that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black NFL player succeed.

After defending his comments on his nationally syndicated NFL Sunday Countdown television show, Mr Limbaugh announced his resignation in a statement which did not include an outright apology.

An apology would do no good because he obviously thought about it before he said it
Donovan McNabb
"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," Wednesday's statement said.

"I love NFL Sunday Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it," Mr Limbaugh's statement said.

If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community
Rush Limbaugh

Top ESPN management said the network had accepted Mr Limbaugh's resignation.

"We regret the circumstance surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously," George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, said in a statement.


Mr Limbaugh's controversial remarks about Donovan McNabb were broadcast before Sunday's match between the Eagles and the Buffalo Bills.

Donovan McNabb
McNabb: Shocked by what he heard

"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," Mr Limbaugh said, referring to McNabb's recent performances.

"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 defence carried the team," Mr Limbaugh said.

The remarks prompted an avalanche of criticism from a number of NFL players, including McNabb, and also several leading Democratic politicians.

Syndicated in over 650 worldwide
Attracts tens of millions of listeners
"It's somewhat shocking to hear that on national TV from him," McNabb told a news conference on Wednesday.

"An apology would do no good because he obviously thought about it before he said it," McNabb said, adding that other panellists on the show should have challenged Mr Limbaugh.

Earlier, former NFL quarterback Warren Moon told CNN that he was "really disgusted" by Mr Limbaugh's comments, while Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark urged ESPN to sack the commentator for "hateful and ignorant speech".

Right-wing icon

But Mr Limbaugh did not back down during his Wednesday's radio show on ESPN.

"All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," he said.

"If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community."

Mr Limbaugh has a reputation of a right-wing icon in America.

The veteran commentator is also the radio host of the politically focused Rush Limbaugh Show, which is syndicated in more than 650 markets worldwide and attracts millions of listeners.

Mr Limbaugh uses the show to berate feminists, homosexuals and what he calls "environmentalist wackos" says he will not retire until all Americans agree with him.

Many of Mr Limbaugh's fans say they enjoy nothing more than endorsing his strongly-held opinions.

Rating's for ESPN's NFL Sunday Countdown show were up by 10% since Mr Limbaugh joined it earlier this year.

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