In one week, Jon Gruden went from coaching the 3-1 Raiders to their best start in years to being out of the NFL. On Monday night, following another damning report by the New York Times, Gruden was given the dignity of taking the coward’s way out by resigning as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders rather than having his ass fired as it should have been.
In a report by the New York Times expanding on their previous details about Gruden, it was revealed that the coach’s prejudice extended far beyond initial reports. Gruden allegedly wrote emails to former Washington president Bruce Allen that featured not only racist statements, but misogyny directed at women becoming NFL referees. Gruden also said Eric Reid, a figurehead of the protest movement alongside Colin Kaepernick, should be fired. He capped it all off by using a homophobic slur in talking about Roger Goodell, then another in regards to the Rams drafting Michael Sam as an openly gay man.
This all came following a report last week that Gruden referred to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith as having “lips the size of Michelin tires.” A clearly racist trope directed at African Americans, which Gruden tried to brush away by swearing he “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” while coming up with the ludicrous excuse that he calls liars “rubber lips,” an idiom which seemingly has no basis in anyone’s lexicon except Gruden’s, and specifically when he’s trying to defend a racist remark.
We’ve now come full circle on the truth of Jon Gruden: That the man is a damn fraud. It’s not just his arrival in Las Vegas, trading away the team’s best players, smashing the confidence of quarterback Derek Carr, then destroying the team with his own hatred when they finally get good — but the receipts we have showing that Gruden is a liar.
Gruden was a lying sack of trash when he praised Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib coming out, saying “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great.” So, while Gruden apparently learned this long ago, he was also comfortable calling Roger Goodell as “f*****” and Michael Sam a “queer.”
What about when Gruden was “surprised” that a team hadn’t signed Colin Kaepernick in 2018? Curious, considering he was privately advocating that a player lose their job for taking a stand on social justice issues.
It also casts an extremely different light on the Raiders’ decision in 2018 at Gruden’s behest to sign Richie Incognito, a player known to have a past of bullying, racism, and homophobia. Gruden would go on to calls Incognito a “leader on this football team” when he was signed to an extension in 2019.
In the coming days we’re going to be bombarded by examples of Gruden’s lies. The times where he praised players on Monday Night Football for taking a stand, while privately advocating for them to be canned. Moments he’s said that having women as referees is “great for the game,” when emailing his buddy to complain about them. I’m not going to pore over dozens of hours of Grudenisms to find these — but call it an educated guess, because Gruden has shown he’s a liar. After all, this is the same man who pretended he had Covid during training camp because he said it was a lesson in “readiness.”
The only thing I truly, honestly believe about Gruden in this whole situation is his statement after resigning from the Raiders.
"I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 12, 2021
“I never meant to hurt anyone,” and that’s the entire point of this. The only people who mean to hurt people with their hatred are those who have cultivated it into their brand, because they’ve found an audience of angry saps willing to part with their money in service of someone who’s “edgy.” A far greater number of people keep their prejudices hidden, quietly swaying their decisions with biases, without ever intending them come to light. These are the individuals who know they’re hurting people, but never want others to know that’s what they’re doing. It’s far more pervasive and damaging, because it can go unchecked for so long.
The real question is: What does Gruden mean when he says he “loves the Raiders”? Does he love the organization? Their history and stature? It surely isn’t the players he loves, because he’s already shown a two-faced nature to how he speaks publicly, and what he says privately. When players were being asked about Gruden all weekend, before and after the team’s crushing loss to the Bears, the damage had already been done. I don’t believe for a second Gruden is stepping away because “he didn’t want to be a distraction,” or he would have done it last week, when he became a distraction. No, this is the action of someone who knew he was unemployable in the NFL because his prejudice had been outed, and likely knows more is on the way.
It’s good Jon Gruden is out of the NFL. The more small-minded bigots who are out of leadership positions, the better. The great shame in it all is that Las Vegas allowed him to leave with a shred of dignity, on his own terms, rather than having the guts to fire him. Gruden damaged the Raiders, its reputation, and the dozens of players under his watch who feel vilified or marginalized by finding out they were led by a snake. The only saving grace is that he’ll never have a job in football again because of it.