In case you had not heard, Jon Gruden resigned as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders and the basis for his need to resign was the revelation of several very inappropriate emails that he exchanged with Bruce Allen about 10 years ago when Gruden was doing Monday Night Football for ESPN and Bruce Allen was the team president for the Washington Football Team under its previous name. Let me make several things clear about my position in order to frame my remarks today:
- Had Jon Gruden sent those emails in 2021, he probably would not have been allowed to resign; he would have been fired as soon as the emails were made public.
- Even acknowledging that fact, the content of his decade-old emails is not nearly as racially insensitive or sexual orientation insensitive as I have heard or read in my lifetime.
The media are piling on – – and that is where I have a problem. Gruden did something offensive ten years ago; he has probably made “improper remarks and references” along these lines in the intervening years; he has been outed; he has been fired. I find the celebration of his demise a bit ghoulish and over the top.
Jerry Brewer is an excellent columnist for the Washington Post. In yesterday’s print edition, his column ran under this headline:
- “Coach is gone, and don’t you dare feel sorry for him.”
Here is the link to that column – with a different online headline – and I commend it to your reading:
Anyone who has read these rants for a while knows that I hold Sally Jenkins in high regard as a sports columnist. In today’s Washington Post, her column – which I also link to here and recommend that you read – has the following headline:
- “Football made Jon Gruden. Now the NFL must reckon with its creation.”
Let me pose some questions to any reporters, columnists, or commentators out there:
- If Jon Gruden can be fired – yes, I know he “resigned” – from a job that he did not hold when he made some offensive remarks, can he ever hold any other job in his life?
- Have those emails alone without any yet demonstrated action(s) to further the nefarious intent subsumed in them disqualified him from any second chance in any profession?
In the last several weeks, we have seen John Hinckley released unconditionally and Sirhan Sirhan granted parole. They have been deemed worthy of a “second chance.” Maybe it’s just me, but I think what both of those men did is hundreds of times worse than any offense anyone might take at the verbiage in Jon Gruden’s emails. However, the way I read the stories and the stated opinions of columnists and commentators, Gruden’s actions were so horrific that he should be shunned by civil society. And I think that is piling on…
Let me say it again. Jon Gruden was fired from his job and that is a situation that every employed person faces as a consequence of his/her actions. Jon Gruden was not wronged here; he is not a victim; he is not to be pitied. AND, his actions are not nearly the worst examples of human depravity on record so let us stop trying to put them in that category.
[Aside: I saw a YouTube video of Randy Moss on a TV studio show talking about Gruden’s emails and how horrible they were, and he was crying. I was moved to tears on a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. I merely shuddered when I read Jon Gruden’s words. Perspective, folks…]
The story about how those emails made their way into the public’s awareness is that they were contained in a trove of emails sent to and from Bruce Allen as the then-team president of the Washington franchise that was uncovered as part of the investigation into the “toxic work environment” for women in the Front Office of that franchise. I cannot confirm or deny that to be true but let me assume for a moment that it is exactly true.
People are now calling for the rest of those emails to become known. One report said that there were 650,000 such emails in the possession of the NFL from that investigation. The NFL has said that it has no plans to release those emails and considers that the confidentiality offered to individuals as part of the investigation requires the emails to remain sequestered.
Excuse me! The fact of Gruden’s emails making their way to the Wall Street Journal and to the NY Times for publication there seems to me to negate any protestation about the sanctity of confidentiality. Those emails did not forward themselves to the Journal or the Times; someone who had access to them, leaked them.
- Yes, I know, the “leak” could possibly have been purely accidental with no malicious intent involved.
- Yes, I also know that an unidentified radar bleep could be Santa Claus’ flying sleigh pulled by reindeer.
- I think the probability of those two statements is approximately the same.
The NFL is going to dodge and deflect calls for a total release of those emails; I can speculate about why it will behave that way but there has been sufficient mind-reading and speculation involved here already. I would love to see them all made public but to make that happen we will need to have a modern-day Daniel Ellsberg arrive on the scene and for him/her to find a way to put them in the hands of a major publication. That could happen; it has a higher probability than another “accidental leak” of a portion of those emails…
Finally, since I believe that there has been far too much virtue-signaling in the process of piling on here, let me close with this comment by Thoreau:
“What men call social virtues, good fellowship, is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter, which lie close together to keep each other warm.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………