TBRSportsBlog: OLD NEWS...?
“It’s old now.”
“But what about this?”
“There’s no place for things like this anymore.”
Yes. We’re talking about Jon Gruden.
Per the New York Times' Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman, the NFL discovered emails Gruden sent to various coworkers and associates in which he used several anti-gay, anti-trans, misogynistic and racial slurs as part of the league's investigation into a separate situation involving workplace misconduct allegations against the Washington Football Team.
Sounds crazy, right? But here’s the main issue, though.
If it were friends and family members, he had been sending these remarks and thoughts to, it wouldn’t make any sort of difference. Think about it. We’re talking about well over 650,000 WORK emails to COWORKERS.
According to Belson and Rosman, Gruden "denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem." He also "exchanged emails with [former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen] and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders." He also used racist tropes to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.
The gay player in question happens to be Michael Sam, whom the then-St. Louis Rams selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft. Remember him, right. After getting cut from the team, he became a footnote for stand-up comedy (Katt Williams in his 2014 with his Priceless special on HBO is the most notable example). He suggested that commissioner Roger Goodell pressured the Rams to pick Sam and referred to the former Missouri star with an anti-gay slur. Gruden also used anti-gay language to describe Goodell himself.
So how old can we catergorize this ‘news’ about Jon Gruden? Should we be this surpirised? The bigger takeaway seems that we all need to be on high alert when it comes to the fabric of our climate and what materials you used to sew your blankets along the way. These organizations, the Raiders, the WFT, and the like, you know what they all have in common?
They’re gimmicky. And the Gruden name has been a gimmick, for at least 20 years.
Think about where Gruden came from. What he’s done. His name has been in the League since the 80’s. He became a staple on Monday Night Football. Do you really think he wasn’t at the very least, protected (for lack of better term), from himself for these remarks throughout any of these tenures? These franchises are gimmicky, not stupid.
Call it what it is, but someone wanted this story out. Here’s the thing we’re all beginning to realize with our current sociopolitical climate, and it’s structure or lack thereof. We all don’t necessarily need to over-analyze the fact that this has been going on for a decade, even while Gruden was AWAY from the league. These emails lasted back to 2011. It’s been a decade.
And even that time wasn’t enough to save Gruden from getting his name stripped from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor. Fuck the fact that he delivered their first Superbowl in their franchise’s history in 2002 alongside Hall of Famers like Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson. None of it matters at all anymore. And Gruden knew the moment ONE email surfaced he’d be out of a job.
I personally don’t believe that Gruden even made it to Mark Davis’ office. He knew the emails were in place. They were on his desk. He knew the damage had been done. He knew there was nothing else that he could possibly—much less realistically—do. Gruden didn’t resign because of guilt. He resigned to get as far away from this situation as humanly possible. And now Mark Davis is saying: The NFL has all the answers. And, quite frankly, he’s absolutely fucking right. He’s gotten to a point where the situation is far bigger than just within the confines of the Las Vegas Raiders organization.
There’s a much bigger monster afoot, and all Gruden did was drop his guard and flee. Now these franchises that—if nothing else—allowed this to happen, must atone for letting Gruden even consider justifying this behavior to himself in the first place, much less anyone else. Don’t expect Mark Davis to say a damn thing, because not only will he not, but he also actually CAN’T. That’s the difference.
Gruden's emails have now been revealed as part of an investigation into the alleged toxic workplace culture within the Washington Football Team. Former Washington team president Bruce Allen was involved in various email chains where Gruden made offensive remarks, and owner Dan Synder received a $10 million fine following the workplace review. The NFL Players Association confirmed it plans to request the release of all documents related to the investigation, with attorneys representing former WFT employees also requesting further information.
Consider this the beginning, or better yet, another instance of reckoning, especially with the foundations being as flawed as it is. In our current climate, it doesn’t matter if it was a decade or more. And all people are doing is trying to place bandages on open wounds that require surgery. Expect to see a lot more resignations following Gruden’s, because in the immortal words of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s famous line in Fast Five, it’s past time to “…make peace with whatever demons you got left.”