October 14, 2021

Sports Tidbits: The Rude in Gruden

Rob Warren
Sports Blogger

First it was leaked out that Gruden in 2011 made comments about the NFL Players Association Attorney De Maurice Smith’s appearance in a racist trope about his lips. This was in frustration because of the labor unrest at that time facing the possibility of no season or a lockout shortened season.


Jon Gruden a long time head coach, and NFL personality just resigned from his paid gig as a Head Coach with the Las Vegas Raiders. Mainly, due to emails that were dug up in an investigation of the Washington Football team, for which one of Gruden’s best friends Bruce Allen worked for as Team President.

First it was leaked out that Gruden in 2011 made comments about the NFL Players Association Attorney De Maurice
Smith’s appearance in a racist trope about his lips. This was in frustration because of the labor unrest at that time facing the possibility of no season or a lockout shortened season.

This was tough, watching Sunday NFL Countdown as Gruden was allowed to Coach on Sunday through the turmoil. I saw Randy Moss get emotional, and how hard it would be for him to play for Gruden after hearing those comments and his colleague Teddy Bruschi former New England Patriot linebacker said the same.

On Monday evening, stories began to leak out the Jon Gruden was going to be stepping down as Coach as more of his emails began to surface. A New York Times article chronicled some of the things that Gruden said.

As a sportswriter, when I’m not writing, covering a live game, or watching sports, I’m in my car on the move listening to sports talk radio.

As the news was breaking I was listening to Mad Dog Sports Radio on Sirius XM and late nights, working that evening shift is JT The Brick who has known Jon Gruden and
worked for the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders for 20 years.

He was devastated to hear the news of his
friend. But his thoughts aren’t what I wanted to share. It was the callers, who called in to react.

Lots of “cancel culture” references. There were what about racisms. Folks making reference to Isiah Thomas, or things Lebron James said, I’ve seen someone make reference to the league having Dr Dre, and Eminem on the Super Bowl Half time show.

Why is it so hard for folks to let their heroes take responsibility for what they have done. Gruden was caught on email making homophobic remarks about Roger Goddell, ownership of the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers, his former employer, he expressed his disdain for the league’s policies around players not standing for the anthem, and rule changes around player safety again evoking Goddell’s name in a very unflattering way.

The words Jon Gruden used were unacceptable for a leader of a billion dollar
corporation that is an NFL franchise. How is a black athlete supposed to look at his coach after hearing that he spoke so lowly of a respected black figure such as DeMaurice Smith?

Ryan Nassib who is a defensive lineman for the Raiders just came out as gay this summer, what’s he to think of a coach who
just a few years ago said that he disagreed with the league text allowing a gay player to be drafted. Gruden also had comments on the league starting to use female referees. Would those referees knowing what he said be able to officiate Raiders games objectively.

For all these reasons, it was untenable for Jon Gruden to stay on as head coach.

As a society recently there’s a segment that loves to complain about “cancel culture” that you can’t say anything without being persecuted and hurting someone’s feelings.

Is there an issue with over reactions and too many protests over too many comments, and that when someone disagrees with our politics that we run too fast get someone fired or to have that individual taken off the air? Yes that is a
real issue.

There’s a difference between philosophical disagreement on issues. Some folks believe that everyone no matter what should stand for the flag during the anthem, Gruden being one of them.

Others believe and Supreme Court precedence say that you have the right to not stand for the pledge or the anthem. That’s a philosophical difference of opinion. But calling people gay slurs, sending around photos of half naked young cheerleaders surely without their consent, railing against player safety, and
making racial comments.

That’s not acceptable behavior for a Head Coach, football influencer, and a
face of a franchise. Holding people accountable for their actions is not cancel culture.

What Coach Gruden said was reprehensible, there’s no place for it anywhere. Question now becomes what others that Gruden was corresponding with.

The investigation was about the Washington Football Team. Yes
Bruce Allen has already been fired, but out of 650,000 emails, that were looked at, did nothing incriminate owner Dan Snyder?

Why hasn’t the NFL released a transcript? How many other general managers, coaches and team owners feel the way Jon Gruden does about the progression that NFL has made with gay players, female referees, and embracing the freedom of speech with players kneeling
during anthems.

There are some nervous parties right now hoping that their words that sounded similar to Grudens don’t get exposed.

With all the progress the league has made this was a giant step backwards.

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