Jon Gruden made a career off being polarizing.
From his famous screw faces to his passionate rants, Gruden has always been the enigmatic coach you know will give people the business.
"I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 12, 2021
However, the culture that Gruden built to fortify his hardball ethos has also led to his demise.
During the National Football League’s hallowed “Monday Night Football” program, Gruden resigned from the Las Vegas Raiders. Another succession of inflammatory emails from almost ten years ago was unearthed Monday evening.
It revealed the depth of Gruden’s bigoted, homophobic and vile worldview toward a considerable swath of the NFL industry.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
According to reports, in the emails, Gruden called the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “f*ggot” and a “clueless anti-football p*ssy.”
In addition, Gruden wrote that Goodell should not have pressured the then-coach of the St. Louis Rams, Jeff Fisher, to draft “queers.” Gruden referred to Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player, who was chosen by the team in 2014.
Jon Gruden resigns as head coach of the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/Npnoqd8YQD
— NFL (@NFL) October 12, 2021
In numerous emails during seven years, ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for reducing concussions. He also said that Eric Reid, the player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired.
In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell. He also used offensive language pervasively to describe some NFL owners, coaches, and even journalists who cover the league.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the National Football League Players Association, who was a target of Gruden in the emails, took to Twitter to express his sentiments.
“The email from Jon— and some of the reaction to it — confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes, and intolerance is not over.
“This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less.”
However, the apologists have come out of the woodwork to redeem Gruden.
During the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast, broadcaster Mike Tirico and former NFL coach-turned-analyst Tony Dungy seemingly came to Gruden’s defense.
“I’m not going to chalk everything up to racism,” said Dungy, one day before The New York Times was first to publish Gruden’s homophobic and misogynistic emails. “I think we accept his apology, move forward, and move on just like he did with his team.
Tony Dungy got a little coonery in him pic.twitter.com/x8azbvvSCQ
— KREMASPAPI 🇭🇹 (@Lakay__509) October 12, 2021
Then Tirico, who reminded the audience that he worked with Gruden during that time, provided his take.
“If I’m honest with the audience, I should weigh in a little bit here because I was with Jon at that time, seven years as my partner at ‘Monday Night Football.’ I probably know Jon better than anybody in the league on a personal level.
“He said it right; he was ashamed of the comments in the email. The comments in the email are wrong, but my experience kind of parallels Tim Brown who played for Jon, Hall of Fame wide receiver. He said he never experienced or saw anything that would say Jon was racist in any way.
“That is exactly the same experience that I had those seven years traveling, three days together on the road every week so the story will continue to play out. The league may weigh in; the team may weigh in.”
— K. E. (@AceBoon_COON) October 12, 2021
Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown, who played for Gruden with the Raiders from 1998-2001, defended him recently on SiriusXM Radio.
Brown said he has heard Gruden use “rubber lips” to describe people he believes are untruthful.
“I’ve heard Jon use the term rubber lips before, meaning that this guy’s double-talking, or he’s doing whatever,” Brown said. “That’s just a term that he uses.
“Never, ever have I gotten anything from him that made me even pause, to think about, ‘Hmm, that didn’t come off right,'” Brown said. “I think if you know Gruden, if you know anything about him, or if you’ve been around him, especially for the length of time that I’ve been knowing him, then you would have gotten a hint that this guy is not right. There’s something that’s not right about him. There’s no way I would have ever.”
Tirico and Dungy were dragged on Twitter for the comments which attempted to reaffirm that you are not the sum of what you say in private. However, the opposite couldn’t be more accurate in this case.
Gruden’s emails were over several years of denigrating people.
Jon Gruden’s thoughts and words are the same as plenty of “leaders” in corporate America but y’all don’t want to have that conversation. pic.twitter.com/aqYHoiERCu
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) October 12, 2021
According to emails reviewed by the Times, he denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player, and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem.
When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time. Gruden’s time has come. His exit from big-league football isn’t yet another instance of cancel culture; it’s part of a larger reckoning the plantation system of the NFL is slowly being shocked into reality.