Jon Gruden Is the Scapegoat. But What Else Is the NFL Hiding?

Following his resignation because the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden—who despatched quite a few racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic e-mail messages to former Washington Soccer Workforce president Bruce Allen’s skilled e-mail—defined that he did so as a way to not be a distraction to his crew.

“Thanks to all of the gamers, coaches, employees, and followers of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I by no means meant to harm anybody,” his press launch learn.

There’s some fact there. Within the 2011 emails, first reported on by The New York Times and uncovered throughout an ongoing investigation of office misconduct throughout the Washington Soccer Workforce, Gruden believed he was in a protected area the place bigotry wouldn’t solely be permitted however celebrated. The affable tone of the emails, which included racist feedback towards NFL Gamers Affiliation chief DeMaurice Smith (“Dumboriss Smith has lips the dimensions of michellin tires”), calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “f—-t” (Goodell has spoken publicly about defending his gay brother from bullies), and sending topless photographs of cheerleaders to Allen and different males suggests that each one this was normal conduct for him and their recipients. He absolutely didn’t imply hurt as a result of these concerned wouldn’t be offended by the feedback in any respect.

Gruden’s fall is extra a distraction for the general public than anything. Whereas he might have misplaced the help of the crew—which incorporates the NFL’s first homosexual energetic participant, Carl Nassib, and quite a few Black gamers—his speedy removing additionally means that the proof found within the investigation could also be too damning for the NFL to totally disclose it to the general public. As a substitute, Gruden stepped down, saving the league from scrutinizing a status constructed on many years of contradictions with reference to race, intercourse, and gender discrimination. It’s truthful to imagine that in terms of the 650,000 emails reviewed by the league in reference to their investigation, what isn’t being shared would indict way more folks than Gruden. (Regardless of requests from the NFLPA and media, a league official told USA Today that it has no plans to launch the remainder of the emails, citing “confidentiality.”)

As a substitute, Gruden steps down and, if the league is ready to suppress the remainder of the emails, the true scale of the league’s racism, sexism, and queerphobia might be swept underneath the rug. If this sounds acquainted, it’s as a result of the league’s most controversial determine, Colin Kaepernick—who has dedicated no crimes, damaged no guidelines or harmed anybody instantly—examined the NFL’s abdomen for public probing when he and Eric Reid sued the league for collusion in 2017. Again then, it appeared fairly tough to show managers throughout the league tacitly determined Kaepernick was unhirable. However in 2019, after Kaepernick’s lawyer mentioned they’d found “embarrassing proof” towards the NFL, the events got here to a secret settlement. The NFL, it appears, would swallow the $10 million doled out to Public Enemy No. 1 if it meant that the reality wouldn’t see the sunshine of day.

Two years later, the NFL remains to be doing its damnedest to cowl its ass. Nevertheless, they aren’t alone. Final week, when all the general public knew about Gruden’s emails have been the derogatory feedback he’d made towards Smith, former coach and Sunday Night time Soccer NBC analyst Tony Dungy mentioned that he wouldn’t “chalk every little thing as much as racism” and that we should always “settle for his apology and transfer ahead, similar to he has along with his crew.” Mike Tirico, who co-hosted Monday Night time Soccer with Gruden for seven years, backed Gruden up, saying, “He’s proper, he was ashamed of the feedback of the e-mail. The feedback are incorrect, however my expertise parallels Corridor of Fame broad receiver Tim Brown. He mentioned he ‘by no means skilled or noticed something that might say Jon was racist in any method.’ That’s precisely the expertise I had in these seven years of touring three days collectively on the highway each week.” Drew Brees, the third piece of the published crew (along with his personal historical past of tone-deaf statements on race) was noticeably absent.

Throughout this week’s Monday Night time Soccer broadcast on ESPN, play-by-play analysts Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick mentioned they felt completely horrible for the Raiders—and particularly for QB Derek Carr, who was wanting ahead to the crew reaching the subsequent stage. There was no point out of the quite a few Black gamers or Carl Nassib, whose resolution to return out as queer final season offered the league a face for its queer-friendly PR campaigns. In the meantime, ESPN has shied away from taking any accountability for Gruden’s actions, although he labored for ESPN when the emails have been despatched.

“As a substitute, Gruden steps down and, if the league is ready to suppress the remainder of the emails, the true scale of the league’s racism, sexism, and queerphobia might be swept underneath the rug.”

To be clear, Gruden’s feedback towards Smith are racist, sure, however so are his feedback towards queer people who find themselves additionally Black, and that’s on prime of his feedback towards cheerleaders, or the truth that he (presumably illegally) shared topless photographs of them. His anger towards Goodell, who he suggests pressured the LA Rams to draft “queers” like Michael Sam, will not be simply queerphobic however racist. All of this taken collectively paints a really vivid portrait of a hateful particular person who thought he had a veil of secrecy inside his colleagues’ inboxes.

The onus for holding the NFL and ESPN accountable will now be on the pens and pads of media members. It’s truthful to query the motivation behind the preliminary reporting of Gruden’s racist feedback within the Washington Publish, a publication run by a billionaire who has proven curiosity in shopping for an NFL crew. The opposite query, then, can be: Who leaked the emails to start with? However that’s an issue for an additional day. Will sports activities media observe up these discoveries by taking homeowners and Goodell to activity concerning the causes Gruden resigned? If their response is solely concerning the sport of soccer and being “a distraction” to the crew, will these reporters press them concerning the ongoing investigation and what seems to be a sample of dangerous language and conduct that instantly implicates nearly all of the league’s Black gamers and high-ranking officers? It’s truthful to imagine that some type of negotiation occurred for Gruden to step down. You don’t run away from $60 million assured with out a minimum of making an attempt to recoup a few of it. Nevertheless it appears the NFL is completely keen to shell out tons of of hundreds of thousands to proceed to obscure the realities of the league’s management. And they’re going to—if we allow them to. | Jon Gruden Is the Scapegoat. However What Else Is the NFL Hiding?


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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