WOW, PEOPLE ARE SAYING, “Jon Gruden”, is the perfect example of how mediocre white men get to thrive in the workplace

An average, overpaid white male leader saying racist things behind closed doors isn’t surprising

Mark Davis Statement

 

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Jon Gruden’s coaching career is somehow celebrated despite a lifetime record barely above .500.
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Jon Gruden’s coaching career is somehow celebrated despite a lifetime record barely above .500.
Photo: Getty Images

Jon Gruden isn’t good at his job. His true talent is making you think he is.

The Oakland Raiders head coach has been able to stick around the NFL as both a coach and commentator because he has a Super Bowl ring. However, smart people will quickly remind you that Gruden’s crowning achievement was given, not earned, as the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t his creation. The team, and most notably its standout defense, was built by Gruden’s predecessor, Tony Dungy — a Black man.

Dungy’s race has to be mentioned because “race” is why Gruden is in hot water for making racist comments about NFL Players Association president DeMaurice Smith — a Black man — in 2011 when he said, “Dum­b­oriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires.”

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last,” Smith said. “This is a thick-skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America. You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language.

“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. I’m sorry my family has to see something like this but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”

Ironically enough, on the same day the news broke about Gruden’s past comments, NFLPA team representatives voted to keep Smith in his role, a move that was not guaranteed amid multiple reports earlier this year speculating that Smith might have been on his way out.

Black people tend to come together in the face of racism.

But instead of using this moment to show actual remorse for what he did, Gruden — like most white men who get caught saying or doing something wrong — made things worse with his indignance at being held accountable. And after Sunday’s loss to the Bears, Gruden went full Brett Kavanaugh.

“I’m not a racist,” he declared. Which is what all racists say when they get exposed. He followed that up by saying, “I’m not going to answer all these questions today,” as he felt that a series of questions about the biggest story in the NFL was overkill.

When things you’ve never been qualified for get handed to you, it makes you soft. Like how when Gruden got a TV show when he was at ESPN, Jon Gruden’s QB Camp, he proceeded to fawn over every prospect he met with, and failed more than he succeeded with his predictions on their NFL careers. And then, when he returned to coaching, the Raiders signed him to a 10-year, $100 million contract, although his winning percentage is barely over .500 and he’s only made the playoffs five times in his 15 years as a head coach. However, rewarding a mediocre coach with a ridiculous contract wasn’t the most egregious thing the Raiders did in 2018 — it was whom they chose to put in power, and how they did it.

In case you forgot, Raiders owner Mark Davis basically admitted to hiring Gruden before he fired then-head coach Jack Del Rio. The Raiders skirted the Rooney rule, their interviews with Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson all for show. Then, with Gruden in place, the Raiders hired Mike Mayock to be their general manager. Mayock had no prior front office experience before he got the job — he was previously an NFL Network draft analyst who once said he’d take Blaine Gabbert over Cam Newton. But, according to reports, Gruden wanted Mayock, and the Raiders weren’t going to let the Rooney Rule stop them.

Two white men, in a Black league, were hired in positions of power from which people of color are often excluded, all because their employer finagled a rule put in place to prevent these exact situations from happening — or at the very least making them less common — all while neither Gruden nor Mayock had proven that they were worthy of the jobs, or the salaries that come along with them.

If this isn’t a picture-perfect example of how race and gender work for the benefit of unqualified white men in America, then I challenge you to find a better example.

Ultimately Gruden may be fined for his words, and could even face a suspension of some sort. However, whatever the “punishment” is, it won’t fit the crime. The league can’t come down on him too harshly since he wasn’t an employee at the time, and the Raiders’ hands are tied as well, as Gruden was working for ESPN when he hit send on that email.

So if you’re looking for somebody to make an example out of Gruden, that’s not going to happen. This is just the latest incident in which the flawed character of a white man in charge has been exposed, as we’re seeing just how so many people really think about people of color. However, the silver lining in all of this is that on Sunday, the Bears beat the Raiders. The win gave Justin Fields — a young Black quarterback — a winning record for the season, while Gruden was forced to play Nathan Peterman, the worst quarterback in NFL history. That’s sweet serendipity.

It’s time for the Raiders or the NFL to get Jon Gruden off the sidelines

Now is a great opportunity to ‘protect the shield’ from racism

Jon Gruden would be facing actual consequences if the NFL or Mark Davis’ Raiders cared enough to act on their supposed commitment to inclusion. 
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Jon Gruden would be facing actual consequences if the NFL or Mark Davis’ Raiders cared enough to act on their supposed commitment to inclusion. 
Photo: Getty Images

Another day, another bigot begging for karma to bite him in the ass. This time it’s Jon Gruden, who never thought the racist remarks he made in correspondence several years ago would see the light of day.

According to a report by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the Las Vegas Raiders head coach used a racially charged description of NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith in an email to former Washington GM Bruce Allen. Gruden, who worked for ESPN at the time, sent the message to Allen during the NFL lockout of 2011.

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires,” Gruden wrote.

To be a 58-year-old white man in America and have zero knowledge surrounding the racial implications of describing any Black person that way? It’s bullshit. You can miss me with that nonsense. Gruden knows exactly what he did. He knew the history and the context when he sent that email. The racial trope Gruden used to describe Smith is in line with Mammy, Aunt Jemima, and some of Disney’s racist cartoons using anti-Black imagery dating back to the 1920s.

“I was upset,” Gruden said this week. “I used a horrible way of explaining it.”

“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” he told WSJ. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

So Gruden doesn’t think Smith is dumb. Alright, he was angry and went overboard. But apparently Gruden stands by his “lips the size of michellin tires’’ comment — there was no mention of it in his apology, besides explaining how he’s used the term “rubber lips’’ in the past, referring to people he thought were lying. This certainly doesn’t prove that Gruden has no “racial bone in his body,” as he claims.

Of course, the NFL was quick to condemn the remarks of one of its most popular coaches over the past two decades, as if the league’s own moral compass had finally led it in the right direction. Gruden should be called out by the NFL, by ESPN, and by anyone who’s sick of attitudes like this toward people of color and other minorities in this country.

“The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent, and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values,” said league spokesman Brian McCarthy. “We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”

The Raiders also released a statement addressing Gruden’s comments, taking great care to pass the buck by making it clear that he wasn’t employed by the team when he sent the message.

It’s especially appalling to see this type of incident happening within the Raiders organization. Under Al Davis’ guidance, the Raiders were known for inclusion and diversity. The team had always been known for giving high-profile opportunities to racial minorities and women.

Davis appointed Tom Flores to succeed John Madden in 1979, making Flores the league’s first-ever minority head coach. In 1989, Davis made Art Shell the first Black head coach in professional football history. And Davis named a woman, Amy Trask, to the position of team CEO in 1997. Davis wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass that Gruden’s comments came before he worked for the Raiders — I don’t believe he would have been OK with any of this.

Now the onus is on the current Raiders owner — Davis’ son Mark — and, ultimately, the NFL. Even if the Raiders do nothing to discipline Gruden, the league can and should step in with some type of disciplinary action. If they’re as committed to diversity and inclusion as they claim to be, this is the perfect opportunity to prove it. Send his ass home for a few games. Send his ass home for the rest of the season. Show us this type of behavior won’t be tolerated, no matter whose watch it’s on. As a head coach, Gruden represents the NFL. Protect the shield. Isn’t that the NFL’s slogan? Well, this is a horrible look for the shield. That is, if they are as genuinely concerned as they claim to be.

As for DeMaurice Smith, he’s chosen to take the high road in response to this story.

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard, and it probably will not be the last.” Smith told the Wall Street Journal. “This is a thick skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America. You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language.

“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. I’m sorry my family has to see something like this, but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”

In the following days and weeks, NFL fans will be watching to see how the NFL handles this story. It has also come out that Gruden made disparaging remarks about Commissioner Roger Goodell in the same 2011 emails. The exact comments Gruden made about Goodell have not been made public (yet), but those will almost surely be “leaked” eventually. Maybe that’s what it’ll take for the NFL to care.

A trove of emails in a separate workplace misconduct case shows Raiders Coach Jon Gruden went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirad.

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Jon Gruden DONE, HE’S OUT as Las Vegas Raiders head coach

Following recent articles in The Wall Street Journal and New York Times detailing the use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic terms by Jon Gruden in emails reportedly dating back to 2010, Gruden has resigned as Las Vegas Raiders head coach, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Monday night.

Gruden was five games into the fourth season of a 10-year contract with the franchise, for which he previously coached in a prior stint.

The resignation of Gruden, 58, comes three days removed from a report from the The Wall Street Journal that detailed a 2011 email in which he used a racial trope to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, and less than two hours after the release of a New York Times article on Monday night that revealed Gruden used homophobic and misogynistic terms in other emails dating back to 2010.

Gruden spoke with Raiders owner Mark Davis on Monday to inform Davis of his decision to step down, Pelissero reported.

Having coached the Raiders initially from 1998-2001, Gruden returned to the franchise in 2018 and signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to become the head coach once again.

Less than halfway through his contract, Gruden is leaving the franchise after a fall that began Friday and concluded Monday.

Around the NFL will have more shortly.

In a post-game news conference Sunday, Raiders Coach Jon Gruden addressed an email in which he used a racist trope to describe DeMaurice Smith, the head of the N.F.L. Players Association.
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When the vaunted N.F.L. coach Jon Gruden was confronted with a racist email he had sent in 2011 to insult the head of the players’ union, he said he went too far but didn’t have “a blade of racism” in him.

But league officials as part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation that did not directly involve him have found that Gruden, now the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.

He 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, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times.

Gruden’s messages were sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others, while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football,” the sports network’s weekly prime-time telecast of N.F.L. games. In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.

In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell and offensive language to describe some N.F.L. owners, coaches and journalists who cover the league.

Gruden, Allen, the N.F.L., and the Raiders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Although not with a team at the time, Gruden was still influential in the league and highly coveted as a coach. He had won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2002 season. And in 2018, he was hired for his second stint as the head coach of the Raiders franchise, which includes defensive lineman Carl Nassib, the first active N.F.L. player to publicly declare that he is gay.

The league said last week that it shared emails with the Raiders in which Gruden made derogatory comments.

Gruden told ESPN on Sunday that the league was reviewing emails in which he criticized Goodell, and explained that he had been upset about team owners’ lockout of the players in 2011, when some of the emails were written. Gruden said in that interview that had used an expletive to refer to Goodell and that he did so because he disapproved of Goodell’s emphasis on safety, which he believed was scaring parents into steering their sons away from football.

But Gruden’s behavior was not limited to 2011. Gruden exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.

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Jon Gruden is out as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, a source confirmed to on Monday.

Raiders owner Mark Davis arrived at the team’s facility earlier Monday evening and went to find Gruden, a source told Schefter. The two men met, and Gruden no longer will be the Raiders’ head coach, the source said.

NFL Network was first to report Gruden’s departure from the team.

The news comes in the wake of a New York Times report that Gruden used misogynistic and anti-gay language in numerous emails during a seven-year period.

The NFL sent the Raiders additional Gruden emails to review, on top of the one about NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith that surfaced last week, and others Gruden recently confirmed to ESPN, sources told Schefter on Monday.

According to The Times, Gruden sent emails to Bruce Allen, then the president of the Washington Football Team, and others during a seven-year period that ended in 2018.

Gruden emailed Allen that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should not have pressured then-Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft “queers,” referring to former defensive end Michael Sam, a gay player drafted in 2014, according to The Times. The Times also reported that Gruden used an anti-gay slur in several instances while referring to Goodell, and used offensive language to describe some owners, coaches and media members who cover the league.

The emails also included harsh language for a handful of team owners involved in the 2011 labor disagreement that led to a lockout at the time. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Gruden, in an email to Allen, said Smith had “lips the size of michellin tires,” with the newspaper saying it had reviewed the email in question.

Gruden told ESPN that he routinely used the term “rubber lips” to “refer to a guy I catch as lying … he can’t spit it out.”

“I’m ashamed I insulted De Smith. I never had a racial thought when I used it,” Gruden told ESPN. “I’m embarrassed by what’s out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad.”

The emails came to light during the NFL’s investigation into workplace misconduct with Washington, as “the league was informed of the existence of emails that raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation,” according to NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy. Senior league executives reviewed the content of more than 650,000 emails, including the one the Journal reported was written by Gruden to Allen. The NFL sent pertinent emails to the Raiders for review.

Gruden, 58, was an analyst on ESPN’s Monday Night Football at the time of the emails and returned to the sidelines in 2018 when Raiders owner Mark Davis lured him back with a 10-year contract worth a reported $100 million.

The Raiders, off to a 3-1 start before hosting the Chicago Bears on Sunday, have gone 22-30 under Gruden this time around after he initially coached the Raiders from 1998 to 2001. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and beat his former team in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Raiders have had one winning season and playoff appearance since, in 2016.

Gruden greeted defensive lineman Carl Nassib, who publicly announced he is gay in June.
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Gruden also criticized President Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, as well as then-vice president Joe Biden, whom Gruden called a “nervous clueless pussy.” He used similar words to describe Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

The league is already investigating Gruden as a result of another email he wrote to Allen in 2011 in which he used racist terms to describe Smith, who is Black.

In that email, Gruden, who is white and was working for ESPN at the time, criticized Smith’s intelligence and used a racist trope to describe his face. The correspondence was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by The New York Times

The league, Smith, and Mark Davis, the owner of the Raiders, all denounced Gruden’s comments, but the coach thus far has not been penalized and he coached his team in its game on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Gruden said Friday that he did not remember sending the email and that his language “went too far,” adding, “I never had a blade of racism in me.”

Gruden’s emails to Allen, who was fired by the Washington Football Team at the end of 2019, were reviewed as part of an N.F.L. investigation of workplace misconduct within the franchise that ended this summer. Goodell instructed league executives to look at more than 650,000 emails during the past few months, including those in which Gruden made offensive remarks. Last week, Goodell received a summary of their findings and the league sent the Raiders some of the emails written by Gruden.

In the exchanges, Gruden used his personal email account while Allen wrote from his team account. In some cases, Allen initiated the conversations and Gruden chimed in, while in other cases, they trade vulgar comments several times.

Some of the emails between Gruden and Allen also included businessmen friends, Ed Droste, the co-founder of Hooters; Jim McVay, an executive who has run the Outback Bowl, annually held in Tampa, Fla.; and Nick Reader, the founder of PDQ Restaurants, a Tampa-based fried chicken franchise. The exchanges begin as early as 2010 while Gruden was an analyst for “Monday Night Football.” In 2018, he signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the Raiders.

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Bruce Allen was fired by the Washington Football Team at the end of 2019.
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Droste, McVay, and Reader did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Gruden and Allen are longtime friends and colleagues. Allen was a senior executive with the Raiders from 1995 to 2003, when he worked with Gruden, who was head coach of the team from 1998 to 2001. Gruden became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl that season. Allen became the general manager there in 2004. Allen and Gruden both left the Buccaneers after the 2008 season. While Gruden moved on to a broadcast role with ESPN, Allen became the general manager in Washington in 2010 and later the team’s president.

Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one N.F.L. circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, deriding the league policies, and jocularly sharing homophobic language.

Allen, who is the son of legendary N.F.L. coach George Allen, and Gruden — whose father coached at Notre Dame and whose brother, Jay, was head coach in Washington from 2014 to 2019 — are part of an exclusive network that cycles between N.F.L. teams, networks and companies affiliated with the league.

Their banter flies in the face of the league’s public denouncements of racism and sexism and its promises to be more inclusive amid criticism for not listening to the concerns of Black players, who make up about 70 percent of rosters. The N.F.L. has in the past struggled to discipline personnel who have committed acts of domestic violence and been condemned for failing to adequately address harassment of women, including N.F.L. cheerleaders.

In June, the N.F.L. congratulated Nassib after he became the first active N.F.L. player to publicly declare that he is gay. Goodell said he was “proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters.”

Privately, Allen and Gruden appeared to have few boundaries in expressing homophobic and transphobic language. In one email from 2015 that includes Droste, McVay and others, Gruden crudely asked Allen to tell Bryan Glazer, whose family owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where Gruden coached until 2008, to perform oral sex on him. Allen said Glazer would “take you up on that offer.”

Allen and Gruden also mocked Caitlyn Jenner, who received an award from ESPN in 2015 after she transitioned.

In an email from 2015, Allen and Gruden criticized a congressional bill that aimed to force the Washington franchise to change its name, which some Native Americans and others have denounced as a slur. Again using a vulgar term, Gruden took aim at Goodell and his staff even though the commissioner had initially defended the team’s right to keep the name.

In 2017, Droste shared with the group a sexist meme of a female referee to which Gruden replied, “Nice job roger.”

That same year, Gruden was sent a link to an article about N.F.L. players calling on Goodell to support their efforts promoting racial equality and criminal justice reform. Gruden had advice for Goodell:

“He needs to hide in his concussion protocol tent,” he wrote.