Limbaugh dropped from investor group

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, was dropped Wednesday as a limited partner from a group led by Dave Checketts in a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams football team.

Checketts, the owner of the St. Louis Blues hockey team, said that Limbaugh had “become a complication and a distraction” in the group’s pursuit of the Rams.

Limbaugh’s history of controversial comments drew the concern of NFL players, owners and the commissioner in the week since his participation in the bid became known.

Without Limbaugh, the Checketts’ group enhanced its status, NFL sources said Wednesday. “Now Checketts can have a restart on this thing and he can clean it up,” said a league source familiar with the potential sale of the team. “This makes the Checketts group more competitive … it probably puts them in the top three (bidders).”

The Checketts group is the only bidder to have been publicly identified so far. As many as six groups have placed bids.

“Rush was to be a limited partner – as such, he would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations,” Checketts said in a statement. “This was a role he enthusiastically embraced. However, it has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions, endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis. As such, we have decided to move forward without him.”

Limbaugh was defiant Wednesday on his radio show. “This is not about the NFL, it’s not about the St. Louis Rams, it’s not about me,” he said. “This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country … to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.

“Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we’re going to have.”

Extra points

The California Senate has voted to allow developers of a proposed 75,000-seat football stadium in the Southern California city of Industry an environmental exemption that allows construction to move forward. It first must be signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. … Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith will miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. … Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is out four to eight weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and the team waived starting defensive tackle Ed Johnson to make room for new kicker Matt Stover. … The San Diego Chargers released starting strong safety Clinton Hart in order to sign defensive tackle Ian Scott. … A Bay Area pit bull advocacy group says Michael Vick has declined an invitation to visit eight of his former dogs this weekend when the Philadelphia Eagles are in town to play the Oakland Raiders.