The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 1:00 am

Gruden's gone and it couldn't have happened any faster

Tim Dahlberg

Jon Gruden might still be coaching had he merely been exposed as a remorseful racist.

His email about union chief DeMaurice Smith's lips was both disturbing and despicable, but it was from a decade ago when Gruden was not coaching in the NFL. And Gruden did apologize immediately, while insisting he doesn't have an “ounce of racism in me.”

No apology could be fast enough when even more emails followed.

The targets were many. The shots were crude.

The emails were exposed, and so was Gruden's real character.

An ounce of racism? How about a cup of misogyny? Maybe a full pint of homophobia?

Gruden is gone, and it couldn't have happened fast enough. The coach who had a meteoric rise to national prominence as a football coach and network TV analyst came crashing to earth even faster, done in by one cringeworthy email after another.

He leaves the Raiders with more than six years and $60 million left on the contract that enticed him back to coaching. And he leaves with his reputation shredded after being caught in emails saying nasty things about everyone from Roger Goodell to Barack Obama.

He was a quarterback guru who won a Super Bowl as a young coach in Tampa Bay, then went on to a starring stint in primetime as an analyst on Monday Night Football. Now he's out of the NFL for what might be forever, and his supporters have fled with each new revelation.

Just how bad are the emails? So bad it's hard to find a group Gruden didn't single out.

According to the New York Times, he denigrated the idea of women referees, and exchanged pictures of NFL female cheerleaders wearing only bikini bottoms. He used homophobic slurs, and railed on against the drafting of gay players.

The paper also said Gruden said a player who demonstrated during the national anthem should be fired and he mocked a 2017 article about players calling on Goodell to support racial equality and criminal justice reform.

Oh, and he saved his worst homosexual name calling for the commissioner of the league that employed him.

This from a coach who in June welcomed Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib's announcement that he was gay by saying “I learned a long time ago that what makes a man different is what makes him great.”

The emails reported Monday night by the Times say more about Gruden than any of the years he spent talking about football on TV.

Then it became not a question of whether Gruden would resign, but when.

“I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” Gruden said in a statement. “Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

That was a far cry from just a few hours earlier when Gruden stood before reporters, telling them “I'm not going to answer all these questions today. I think I've addressed it already.”

The truth is, Gruden probably didn't mean to hurt anyone. He surely never thought his emails would ever become public.

The emails, mostly written during the time Gruden was an analyst, stretch up to when he became coach of he Raiders in 2018 and paint a portrait of Gruden that is far different than the one he presents publicly.

Gruden was likely already facing at least a suspension for the Smith email, but he was still holding onto hope and seemed convinced he'd remain coach of the team.

Now he's gone, and the NFL is a better place already.


Tim Dahlberg is a columnist for The Associated Press. His columns appear periodically.

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