Jon Gruden said he never meant to hurt anyone. Yet the Raiders coach who resigned Monday evening, Oct. 11, spent years sending emails that included startling racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language.
And he did much of it while serving as a head coach or, prior to that, as a television analyst for ESPN. Gruden’s resignation was announced during Monday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Ravens.
“I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” Gruden said in a prepared statement. “Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone.”
The resignation came after The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported about a string of emails that were uncovered during an investigation of the NFL’s team in Washington, D.C. Over a yearslong period, Gruden denounced drafting gay players and used anti-gay slurs, made jokes about physical characteristics of black men and denounced the practice of hiring women as NFL officials. He criticized players who protest against racial injustice and is alleged to have been part of an exchange of photos of topless NFL cheerleaders.
Gruden has been a maverick throughout his days in the NFL, playing the part of tough-guy coach who uses expletives and macho talk to become a coveted leader and TV analyst. Now, he hopefully is out of football forever.
Unfortunately, it appears he resigned before he could be fired. Any reemergence of Gruden, whether on the field, in a television studio or anywhere else associated with the game of football, will be an example of what’s wrong in the world of big-time sports.
Trouble is, Gruden — who was signed by the Raiders to a 10-year, $100 million contract — is just part of the problem.
Women who worked for the Washington Football Team have reported a toxic workplace that included harassment, bullying and demeaning behavior.
Numerous players have been arrested in recent years for domestic abuse.
The league continues to condone smaller, tighter and more revealing outfits for sideline cheerleaders. For what purpose could this possibly be?
And does anyone really believe Gruden is the only one in the NFL who harasses, mocks, bullies or openly discusses homophobic and misogynistic beliefs?
Leading up to Gruden’s resignation, a source told ESPN that the league was “monitoring the situation and waiting to see how the team will handle the matter.”
Thus the problem with the NFL – more monitoring of behavior, rather than swift action. Its popularity shows it truly is America’s game, but the league is rife with troubles. Gruden now becomes the face of what is wrong with the NFL, and until the league puts forth more effort to ban troublesome players, coaches and executives — and to honestly seek equality, inclusiveness and safe workplaces for women, minorities and those in the LGBTQ+ community — it’s nothing more than useless talk.
Meanwhile, the league’s constant woes are setting a terrible example for the malleable youngsters who look up to these players and coaches.
This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Grand Forks Herald.