(CNSNews.com) - Talk show host Rush Limbaugh Monday said he was "disappointed" that his former colleagues on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown had chosen to distance themselves from him in the wake of the controversy involving Limbaugh's comments about black quarterbacks in the National Football League.
"Yeah, I was somewhat disappointed by it when I heard about it because I thought we were all friends. We did all get along in production meetings, on the set of the show itself," Limbaugh said during his radio talk show Monday.
Limbaugh last week resigned his job as an analyst on the ESPN program after comments he made about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb touched off accusations that Limbaugh was racist.
The controversial comments came as Limbaugh explained why he thought McNabb was overrated as a football player. "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 Sept. 28 ESPN broadcast.
On Sunday's ESPN program, which was sans Limbaugh for the first time this season, co-host Chris Berman said of Limbaugh's remarks, "I'm angry for the hurt it's caused African Americans. I'm angry for the hurt it's caused all people. I've never looked at Donovan McNabb as a black quarterback, ever. Ever."
Co-host Tom Jackson, who is African American, was the most critical of Limbaugh, implying that he and the other ESPN hosts did not even support the decision to hire Limbaugh in the first place.
"Let me just say that it was not our decision to have Rush Limbaugh on this show. I've seen replay after replay of Limbaugh's comments with my face attached as well as that of my colleagues, comments which made us very uncomfortable at the time, although the depth and the insensitive nature of which weren't fully felt until it seemed too late to reply," Jackson said.
"He was brought here to talk football, and he broke that trust. Rush told us the social commentary for which he is so well known would not cross over to our show, and instead, he would represent the viewpoint of the intelligent, passionate fan," Jackson added.
Jackson ended his comment by saying: "Rush Limbaugh was not a fit for NFL Countdown."
Limbaugh denied that he was told by ESPN to avoid "social commentary" and refuted Jackson's claims that ESPN management had forced the rest of the program's hosts to accept Limbaugh on the program.
"I was told, anyway, that every one of [the hosts] signed off on the concept [of hiring me] before ESPN executives even approached me," Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh, who has refused to apologize for his comments about McNabb, said the pressure applied on his ESPN colleagues after the incident was ultimately overwhelming.
"They were answering their friends yesterday who had been beating up on them," Limbaugh explained, likening the ESPN hosts' reaction to what he termed a "typical cocktail party analogy."
"Many people determine in fact their entire point of view based on what their friends will think of them. They were sort of in a no-win situation yesterday," Limbaugh said.
"I didn't expect them to come out and ...support me. That wasn't in the cards," Limbaugh added.
Limbaugh's political opponents have also weighed in on the controversy.
Jesse Jackson joined Democratic presidential candidates Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and Joseph Lieberman in rebuking Limbaugh for his ESPN comments.
"It is wrong and painful to give someone like Mr. Limbaugh appraisal power over the African American players in the NFL," Jackson said in a statement last week.
An editor at CBSNews.com expressed his happiness at Limbaugh's exit from ESPN.
"Am I delighted to see Rush Limbaugh attacked, ridiculed and forced out of his ESPN gig? Absolutely. Justice is being served," wrote Dick Meyer, editorial director for CBSNews.com, in a recent column.
Other liberal outlets were less diplomatic in their attacks on Limbaugh.
In an Oct. 2 commentary, Matthew Rothschild, editor of the liberal journal, The Progressive, referred to Limbaugh as a "reactionary blowhard" whose ESPN comments had demonstrated "racist overtones."
Rothschild used Limbaugh's comment to illustrate what he believes is the sad state of America's race relations.
"The racism that Limbaugh expressed is unfortunately not that uncommon in America," Rothschild wrote. "So maybe Rush Limbaugh did the country a favor by reminding us, yet again, of the insidiousness of white supremacy," he added.
Syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams, an African American, defended Limbaugh against the accusations that he had made racist comments. Williams also accused liberals of launching a campaign to destroy Limbaugh.
"They realize that Limbaugh had an impact on the 2000 and 2002 elections. It's not enough for them to go after him for his commentary on ESPN, they want to go after his radio audience, they want to go after his affiliates and his advertisers and say, 'You got a racist and a bigot, you need to take him off the air,'" Williams told CNSNews.com.
"That is outrageous, but that is their agenda. They are not going to let it go," Williams added.
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Rush Limbaugh Denies He Is Acting 'Clintonesque' (Oct. 7, 2003)
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