Following his resignation because the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden—who despatched various racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic e-mail messages to former Washington Soccer Crew president Bruce Allen’s skilled e-mail—defined that he did so in an effort to not be a distraction to his staff.
“Thanks to all of the gamers, coaches, workers, 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 Crew, Gruden believed he was in a secure area the place bigotry wouldn’t solely be permitted however celebrated. The affable tone of the emails, which included racist feedback in opposition to NFL Gamers Affiliation chief DeMaurice Smith (“Dumboriss Smith has lips the scale 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 images of cheerleaders to Allen and different males suggests that every one this was customary conduct for him and their recipients. He certainly 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 could have misplaced the help of the staff—which incorporates the NFL’s first homosexual energetic participant, Carl Nassib, and various Black gamers—his instant 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 an alternative, Gruden stepped down, saving the league from scrutinizing a fame constructed on many years of contradictions with reference to race, intercourse, and gender discrimination. It’s truthful to imagine that in relation to the 650,000 emails reviewed by the league in reference to their investigation, what isn’t being shared would indict much more individuals 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 an alternative, 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 will probably 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 immediately—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 stated they’d found “embarrassing proof” in opposition to 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 continues 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 had been the derogatory feedback he’d made in opposition to Smith, former coach and Sunday Evening Soccer NBC analyst Tony Dungy stated that he wouldn’t “chalk the whole lot as much as racism” and that we should always “settle for his apology and transfer ahead, similar to he has along with his staff.” Mike Tirico, who co-hosted Monday Evening 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 unsuitable, however my expertise parallels Corridor of Fame broad receiver Tim Brown. He stated he ‘by no means skilled or noticed something that will say Jon was racist in any manner.’ 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 printed crew (along with his personal historical past of tone-deaf statements on race) was noticeably absent.
Throughout this week’s Monday Evening Soccer broadcast on ESPN, play-by-play analysts Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick stated they felt completely horrible for the Raiders—and particularly for QB Derek Carr, who was wanting ahead to the staff reaching the subsequent stage. There was no point out of the quite a few Black gamers or Carl Nassib, whose choice 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, though he labored for ESPN when the emails had been despatched.
“As an alternative, 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 will probably be swept underneath the rug.”
To be clear, Gruden’s feedback in opposition to Smith are racist, sure, however so are his feedback in opposition to queer people who find themselves additionally Black, and that’s on prime of his feedback in opposition to cheerleaders, or the truth that he (probably illegally) shared topless images of them. His anger in opposition to Goodell, who he suggests pressured the LA Rams to draft “queers” like Michael Sam, is just not 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 Submit, a publication run by a billionaire who has proven curiosity in shopping for an NFL staff. The opposite query, then, can be: Who leaked the emails to start with? However that’s an issue for one more day. Will sports activities media observe up these discoveries by taking homeowners and Goodell to job in regards to the causes Gruden resigned? If their response is solely in regards to the sport of soccer and being “a distraction” to the staff, will these reporters press them in regards to the ongoing investigation and what seems to be a sample of dangerous language and conduct that immediately implicates nearly all of the league’s Black gamers and high-ranking officers? It’s truthful to imagine that some type of negotiation came about for Gruden to step down. You don’t run away from $60 million assured with out a minimum of trying to recoup a few of it. Nevertheless it appears the NFL is completely prepared to shell out a whole bunch of thousands and thousands to proceed to obscure the realities of the league’s management. And they’re going to—if we allow them to.