This week, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned after the public release of private emails dating back to 2011. In these emails, written during a lockout between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, Gruden said offensive things and used mean words. For these transgressions – which included gay slurs, questionable language regarding black players and female referees, and bad words directed at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell – Gruden had to be sacrificed.
This was especially true because he committed the cardinal sin of saying something that was not intended to be racist but could be interpreted as racist: Gruden reportedly had a habit of saying that people he thought were lying had “rubber lips.” And, while emailing Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen about NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, Gruden wrote that “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”
Because Smith happens to be black, Gruden had to go.
In a statement, the NFL called the emails “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values,” adding, “We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.” Mark Davis, who owns the team, denounced Gruden, calling the emails “disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for.”
Smith, who could have defused the situation with a charitable interpretation of Gruden’s words and a recognition that Gruden had demonstrated no prejudice in decades of coaching, instead jammed his fingers hard into the racial pressure point: “Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs.”
It remains true that victimhood is more rewarding their maturity and leadership. It is also the case that this is complete silliness.
Even if the Gruden emails were read in the most uncharitable way possible, do Americans really want to live in a country in which private correspondence from a decade ago can be leaked to the press and their careers finished?
Gruden wasn’t even employed by the NFL at the time – and the NFL refuses to release the other 650,000 emails from which the Gruden stash was pulled.
Why? Because Gruden is certainly not the only NFL employee who has used offensive language in the past. But the NFL isn’t looking to hold people accountable for Bad Old Emails™. It wants to prevent the high priests of wokeness from punishing the league for its real sins.
As it turns out, the NFL boasts the most impressive athletes in the world, many of whom also happen to be complete delinquents.
Not even three weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed cornerback Richard Sherman. In July 2021, Sherman was accused of second-degree criminal trespass, third-degree malicious mischief, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, and reckless endangerment of road workers. These charges included domestic violence. (The Bucs roster also includes Antonio Brown, who was out of the league only briefly with sexual assault allegations in 2019.)
On September 29, the Kansas City Chiefs signed wide receiver Josh Gordon after the NFL reinstated him. Gordon has been suspended by the league six times to date because he is an abuser of drugs and alcohol who has admitted to being on the field while under the influence.
Football fans know that the Raiders organization itself is notorious for signing these sorts of players.
The NFL is replete with unsavory characters. These are players who have what are called “off the field problems.” The off-the-field stuff usually means late-night arrests for driving under the influence, illegally possessing firearms and controlled substances, and the occasional rape allegation or domestic abuse charge.
Not to mention the NFL’s problem with chronic brain trauma leading to early onset dementia, often resulting in suicide by retired players, and the burgeoning scandal over “race norming,” or the NFL assuming a lower baseline cognitive ability for black players relative to white players when handling concussion-related lawsuits.
The NFL, like most people and organizations, stands on the wrong side of the woke bifurcation between good and evil. In order to appease the mob, sacrifices must be made. Like people who sign off emails with their preferred pronouns or put black squares in their Instagram profiles, the NFL just wants to be passed over by the mob.
Unfortunately for the league, the Gruden sacrifice will not be enough. The woke god is not a forgiving one. This is also why the rest of those emails will remain private, at least until another offering is needed. The sacrifices are selective and so is the outrage.
Kevin Catapano graduated from the University of Connecticut in May 2021 with a B.A. in political science. While studying, he wrote a weekly column for the student newspaper and served as a staff writer for the UConn Undergraduate Political Review. He is currently a contributor to The Western Journal.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Heroes Media Group