Right-winger quits TV after racial slur

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A right-wing talk show host has been forced to quit as a National Football League analyst on American television after making disparaging remarks about a black quarterback.

Rush Limbaugh, the best-known conservative on radio, claimed that Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles was overrated and that his ability had been talked up by a media "very desirous that a black quarterback do well".

By the standards of Mr Limbaugh's daily diatribes on his syndicated talk show the words were tame. But they provoked a storm of protest: from the player, his team, the NFL, and from sportswriters as well as several Democratic presidential candidates, including the front-runner Howard Dean. ESPN sports television network said the comments were "inappropriate and insensitive".

His fundamental sin was to touch on a long-running and ever-sensitive issue in American sport: why it is that so few black players either manage major league teams or - in the case of American football - play in the all-important position of quarterback? NFL teams are overwhelmingly black, yet of the 32 starting quarterbacks on Sunday (when Mr Limbaugh made his remarks) only seven were black.

Mr Limbaugh apologised for the "discomfort" he had caused, but added: "I must have been right about something. If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage in the sports-writing community."