It appears a Code-Red was called on Jon Gruden, as a Trove of years-old intolerant emails are exposed.
During the Monday Night Football live broadcast they cut into the programming to announce the news that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden would be resigning from his position. The focus this weekend was on a controversial racist email attributed to Gruden from years ago, but after his attempt to sidestep that as an old relic from his past, The New York Times reported on an extensive amount of newer emails revealed which showed a more extensive and lengthy history from the head coach.
This new collection of correspondence showed Gruden using invectives on a variety of subjects, involving numerous targets and offensive language over the years. Among the targets of his missives were the national anthem protests, gay players entering team rosters, female officials joining the league, as well as course descriptions of NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell and former President Barack Obama.
The drama surrounding Gruden began on Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported on a racist comment Gruden had made in an email about the NFL Players Association President, DeMaurice Smith. The email, concerning the potential of a player lockout in the preseason, was written in 2011, and the derogatory statement was attempted to be explained away as an old comment that did not reflect his views today. He responded in numerous interviews by saying the comment sprung out of anger at the time and did not reflect his views on race.
Those excusals now fall flat with a trove of comments from the man which can be perceived as racist, homophobic, sexist, and numerous other social offenses. This new collection of emails derives from a tangential investigation taking place with a different franchise entirely. The NFL had long conducted an investigation into the team of the D.C. Generics — officially called The Washington Football Team. That investigation, known for a time as The Wilkinson Report, was looking into a variety of problems cited with the front office of that franchise.
That probe, culminating this summer, led to a $10 million fine and owner Daniel Snyder stepping down from team operations. In the course of the investigation over 600,000 emails had been reviewed, and in that glut of documents were numerous conversations between Gruden and Bruce Allen, then the President of the Washington Redskins, as well as other front office members.
In many of the messages from 2011 to 2018 — when he took the job as the Raiders head coach — Gruden would frequently disparage the league commissioner with homophobic language. He also spoke with derision about the drafting of Michael Sam by the Los Angeles Rams. Sam was the first openly gay player to be drafted by the league, and Gruden’s caustic remarks carry real resonance today, as the Raiders are the team where Carl Nassib plays, this season becoming the first openly gay player to make the roster and participate in games.
As unsettling as the raft of crude commentary is to see, what is a curious side note is the ESPN reaction. The network had a hastily-gathered panel of Suzy Kolber, Adam Schefter, and Booger McFarland to speak on the release of the additional emails in the pregame lineup. During the broadcast, the trio was brought back to discuss the announcement, and there was an exchange of words of condemnation and how more needs to be done to root out this element in the game. But these lectures have to ring hollow.
For the duration of these messages, taking place for nearly a decade, Gruden had been an ESPN employee. He was one of theirs the whole time. It seems a stretch that Gruden could be such an outwardly intolerant figure, sharing these acerbic viewpoints with numerous prominent names in the league, and yet none of this had been exposed prior within the network. Considering the extensive contacts the NFL insiders at ESPN have, such as Schecter himself, it feels like someone had to have been vocal about these comments.
This stands as just another sign though of the fractured standards that exist around the league. Not to defend anything Gruden had said or suggest they be permitted, but when looking at the ability of players to continue in their careers while sporting assault, harassment, and possibly more serious accusations, you have to ask just how curved the line of morality exists in the league front offices.